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Vectorworks abandoning perpetual licences


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Well, I'm sure I'm not the only one who has feared this would happen at some point, but I've just received this unhappy news from my (UK) distributor:

 

Quote

As we’re getting ready for the launch of Vectorworks 2023 this September, we’ve been focusing on quality and performance improvements that will enhance your experience with Vectorworks products. With this, we are announcing a change to our purchasing options — we will be offering monthly and annual subscriptions and retiring the option to purchase new perpetual licences beginning 1 January, 2023.

 

This change will provide all Vectorworks customers with access to a more stable product by increasing the frequency of updates and allow us to focus on consistent quality throughout each version cycle.

 

Additionally, the subscription offering will be enhanced to include all the same premium benefits of Vectorworks Service Select at no additional cost. This means that when you subscribe to Vectorworks, you have access to additional product library content, exclusive training, more Cloud Service storage, and cloud rendering. 

So, what does this mean for you?

 

As a former Service Select member, this email is to notify you of the upcoming changes. Specifically, if you are interested in returning to the Service Select maintenance program, you must do so before 30 December.

 

To help make the return to Service Select easier, we have relaxed our reinstatement policies and will waive all late renewal fees, allowing you to pay your missed renewal payments to bring your account current. Doing so will grant you access to the current version and reinstate your Service Select membership at your original rates.

 

Your current perpetual licence(s) will continue to work after 1 January. However, a Service Select membership helps ensure that you can access benefits like priority technical support and 20 GB of Cloud Service Storage. Most importantly, you’ll also receive access to upgrades for your perpetual licence as they are released, including version 2023 this Autumn. Without a Service Select membership, you will not be able to access upgrades to your software after 1 January without transitioning your perpetual licence to a subscription.

 

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If this results in "more stable product by increasing the frequency of updates and allow us to focus on consistent quality throughout each version cycle" then it's got to be better in the long run. I hate the annual release cycle for this very reason.

 

We're Service Select users so nothing will change for us, but I do note that the subscription rates are substantially more than we pay for Service Select, so I wonder if there will be any loyalty rates for subscribers. A free version for non-commercial use would also make sense under a subscription scheme.

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43 minutes ago, line-weight said:

I don't see why a subscription model is necessary to improve stability, or to increase the frequency of updates.

Because a release cycle based on major versions creates an incentive for the developer to save up changes for each major release, in order to make each release more attractive for users to upgrade.

 

A subscription model removes this incentive. Upgrades and changes can be pushed out whenever they're ready to go without having to justify it to the marketing department.

 

Next step in my mind is to make Vectorworks work in a web browser. Then we can also get rid of the antiquated model of having to manage software too. e.g. Onshape.

Edited by Christiaan
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1 hour ago, line-weight said:

But also removes some of the incentive to make those improvements at all - or to release them in a stable/usable state.

On the contrary. What can happen now is that features get held back from a major release because they're not ready, but then they have to wait a whole year before they're released, even if they're ready earlier. Or they might be pushed out before they're ready and stable, because they don't want to wait another year to release it.

 

With a subscription model they can ship when they're ready and stable, without upsetting marketing.

 

Making the software better attracts new customers, so I don't see how a subscription model removes any incentive to make improvements. Just look at Onshape.

Edited by Christiaan
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1 hour ago, jeff prince said:

It was also a factor in leaving Autodesk when my decades old license was forced to subscription. ...

 

Then, it will be time to migrate back to the Autodesk offerings

Did Autodesk go back to providing perpetual licences?

Edited by Christiaan
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11 minutes ago, Christiaan said:

Did Autodesk go back to providing perpetual licences?

 

Nope, but they do offer some very favorable legacy licensing to subscription pricing even today (until they don't).

But if I am being forced into a subscription model and must maintain some level of BIM compliance on certain projects, I believe it's a better small business decision to opt for a software where there is a huge labor pool of prospective employees, subcontractors, or production outsourcing.  It's hard to find qualified Vectorworks people and takes significant resources developing them.  Having control over software investment at least makes those development costs more palatable, though software cost is minor in comparison.  If that option is removed, I guess we shall see what the larger effects on Vectorworks is.

 

On a side note, I do not see subscription models leading to better software features, just better cash flow for the developers.  The notion of continuous release of features might be nice for some, typically the elite technicians and developers keen on keeping you tied to current versioning (ex. Revit), but keeping a staff abreast of the changes and implementing new workflows has significant cost to organizations large and small.  Feature roll out within Vectorworks has already proven challenging enough with changes to materials, data tags, title blocks, plant object, slab/hardscape/landscape area workflows, etc.  Fortunately, sketching and illustrating does not have these costs and a competitive CAD/BIM outsourcing marketplace can provide the technical documentation at a reasonable price.

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44 minutes ago, Christiaan said:

Just look at Onshape.

Thought it would be interesting to check out their changelog:

 

July 22 - 1 update

June 22 - 2 updates 

May 22 - 1 update

April 22 - 2 updates

March 22 - 1 update

February 22 - 1 update

January 22 - 2 updates

 

2021 had 17 updates in the year.All a mix of new features, improvements, bug fixes etc. I looked at some of the forum posts showing these updates and they have pretty positive comments from users.

 

If Vectorworks start doing something like this (and the updates are actually good!) I will be impressed.

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So here is my thing, as a small business owner:

 

I currently own one license, and am a service select member at $800 approx a year.  This is not a small price, nor was the initial cost of the perpetual license, for me to absorb.  It does at least mean that if I ever stop paying I can continue to utilize the existing version.

 

If I was to purchase a second license, which I have been looking at for some time, my annual cost will jump from a one time fee, which I can absorb with a couple of larger jobs, with $800/yr, to $2200+/yr on a monthly license which as a business owner is easier to handle sometimes.  That one time fee is $4500 (Spotlight+ConnectCAD) so looking at the difference, in about 3 years this will be costing me an additional $1200/yr to operate a second license, that if I do ever cease payments on, I will lose all access to, instead of just sticking with the current version.

 

I just can't see how that in any way benefits the end user on the small scale certainly.  For the larger global business I am also part of that i am considering pitching Vectorworks for, it may not make a huge difference to them, but for the small business it is huge.  This is also true for the freelance entertainment professional, many of whom that I work with tend to upgrade licenses when they can afford to, but can't afford to all the time.  This is REALLY going to screw them over, just as that industry is starting to recover from being shut down from COVID for such a long period of time, and may drive an entire industry away in my opinion.

 

Personally I hate where industries are going to this model, it is horrible for the end user.  This now has me considering instead of purchasing a second license and a second subscription for service select, whether I should instead invest that money into other products, many of which are cheaper than vectorworks to the point of being able to afford multiple just for the difference in cost, much less to say the total investment.

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44 minutes ago, rDesign said:

Really? The motivation to “focus on consistent quality” wasn’t there before?


This is really disappointing news.

 

Given how long the issues in my signature line have been left unresolved, it’s hard to believe there is much capacity to focus on quality.  Juan got a tech support person to contact me and then silence…

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4 hours ago, Christiaan said:

Just look at Onshape.

Ohshape works so well that I have two subscriptions and am currently moving as much of my VW work over to it as possible...still need VW for dealing with civil and some architectural stuff that it does well...

 

In Onshape I have none of the headaches of yearly releases...

 

In VW I have to manage 3 offices as I work with two other architectural offices...I can't upgrade till the other two offices can also...so they need to hit the same lull in work at the same time...near impossible...I just upgraded to 2022 a month ago and it was a several day process to test the waters, then contact the other offices and help them with their upgrades.

 

None of this exists with Onshape and I have no issues with "will my current hardware/OS run the latest release?"

 

Subscriptions and cloud based...I'm all in.

 

 

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1 hour ago, digitalcarbon said:

Ohshape works so well that I have two subscriptions and am currently moving as much of my VW work over to it as possible...still need VW for dealing with civil and some architectural stuff that it does well...

 

In Onshape I have none of the headaches of yearly releases...

 

In VW I have to manage 3 offices as I work with two other architectural offices...I can't upgrade till the other two offices can also...so they need to hit the same lull in work at the same time...near impossible...I just upgraded to 2022 a month ago and it was a several day process to test the waters, then contact the other offices and help them with their upgrades.

 

None of this exists with Onshape and I have no issues with "will my current hardware/OS run the latest release?"

 

Subscriptions and cloud based...I'm all in.

 

 

 

I'm not sure comparisons with Onshape are valid.

 

Doesn't Onshape have a much much bigger userbase and much more resource behind it?

 

And it doesn't have to deal with the quite specific trickiness involved with building design and documentation - which is really quite a different process from product design.

 

I don't think you can conclude that because things work nicely with Onshape's subscription model, these benefits would also be seen in VW simply from a switch in payment model.

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Companies as large as Nemetschek (especially public ones) do not "care" about the end user, period. Regardless of how good a single salesperson or support person is (or teams of people for that matter). Companies care about making as much money off of their customers as possible. Nemetschek made a calculated decision that it would not seriously affect their bottom line by the amount of people pissed off by this decision. Time will tell if they are right, however usually they are. The price of Adobe's stock rose 50% in the 12 months following the introduction of subscription pricing.

 

Personally I see nothing wrong with any of this, the goal of any company is (or should be!) to make as much money as possible. If decisions like this lead to enough backlash or bad PR, then usually companies reverse course or go out of business.

 

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