Have you ever been forced to buy something you don’t want or need?

It happens all the time in the CAD world. There are plenty of traditional CAD customers out there who pay for annual subscriptions but deliberately skip years of upgrades, the primary “benefit” for these maintenance fees.

This situation is counterintuitive to normal human behavior. When wedding guests go to an open bar, many of them order far more beverages than they would at a cash bar. Similarly, at a price-fixed all-you-can-eat buffet, people tend to overindulge because, hey, they already paid for it.

So why would CAD be any different? Why would businesses choose NOT to receive upgrades they already paid $1,300 for? (That’s far more pricey than a few margaritas or Sunday brunch.)

It is very simple. They don't upgrade every year because the risks are far greater than the benefits.

Let’s say I’m on TraditionalCAD 2015 and I’m happily chugging along with my projects. When TraditionalCAD 2016 comes out, should I upgrade right away? Probably not. Why? It’s likely not stable because it has had stuff going in it for a year and nobody has used it in production yet. Makes sense to wait for the next few service packs. Then I want to see what the enhancements and bug fixes are – and figure out if I actually want them. As the product becomes more mature, it becomes less and less likely that new enhancements will be important to me.

Actually, when I look at the limited set of enhancements and bug fixes in the upgrade, it seems like most of the subscription money I am paying is not going into improving the CAD product I am using at all. It is being invested in some “future” products that either I can’t access, or are not even reasonably compatible with the product I am using, or both.

But those aren’t even the biggest problems.

The Hassles of Installed Upgrades

If I do choose to upgrade, the installation might cause more problems than it solves. Because TraditionalCAD is not backward compatible, even with itself. So the first thing my company needs to do is upgrade every installation they own. Then we need to run through all our existing TraditionalCAD 2015 files and update them to the new version. Things can and do go wrong during that upgrade process, especially since that year’s worth of new code has not been used in production yet (so the odds of a negative interaction increase).

On top of that, I have to reinstall my PDM system and get that all working again – which is never fun. Then I probably have a bunch of installed add-on applications that will need updating as well (and may or may not work, or even be available yet).

That is a lot of IT overhead. But let’s say I get through those headaches with my sanity intact. Now I find out that my outside vendors, suppliers, and customers using TraditionalCAD 2015 haven’t upgraded yet – so they either can’t use the new CAD files I create or can use them only in a limited way for a limited time. Yikes!

Okay, so now we know why lots of people don’t upgrade to the new versions of TraditionalCAD that they are already paying for. So why don’t they save their money and just stay on their current version? Well, that’s exactly what many of them would like to do!

Here’s where the irony kicks in. Unless my company never shares its files with the outside world, eventually people we work with are going to upgrade for their own independent reasons. Now I can’t read the files they create – and over time, that problem gets bigger. The choice of whether or not to upgrade is an illusionary one.

Eventually, I will have to surrender to the inevitable. One of my partners is going to upgrade and I’ll have to keep up with them. Or I might actually need that new bug fix or enhancement. And when I do finally cave in, I’ll have to deal with all those aforementioned issues.

The Insanity of Paying For What You Don’t Want or Need

Now let’s take a real example from the traditional CAD world. Some companies that use SolidWorks have been tempted to stop paying for annual subscriptions to save money ($1,300 to $1,800/year or more per CAD seat can add up fast.) In the past, they were charged a modest late fee before being allowed to upgrade again at the annual subscription cost.

However, as of Jan. 1, 2016, SolidWorks customers who want to return to the fold have to pay for all the previous years they skipped (not to exceed the cost of a completely new seat of CAD). The new policy has stirred up a bit of controversy on the SolidWorks customer forums.

It’s understandable why the backbilling is causing some resentment.

Imagine you are a season ticket holder for your favorite sports team for a decade. And then, your team makes a few foolish trades and ill-planned free agent signings that sink them to last place. So you cancel your season tickets. Maybe you change your mind three seasons from now and want to buy new seats. Should the team be able to charge you for all the games you DIDN’T attend?

Thankfully, like the rest of the world, the CAD world is moving toward a pay-for-what-you-use model.

Onshape: CAD Upgrades Every Few Weeks

Onshape is automatically upgraded in the cloud every few weeks with bug fixes, enhancements and no IT overhead!

In the 1990s, the traditional CAD subscription model and installed PC-only file-based product model were both state-of-the-art. But the state of computing and software has dramatically changed.

Here’s what only a Full-Cloud CAD architecture can deliver:

  1. You and every Onshape user in the world are always on the most recent version. So there are never any software version or database version compatibility issues – just like Gmail.
  2. No need for downloads or installs. Just refresh your browser to take advantage of the newest features and enhancements.
  3. Any data upgrades needed are done by Onshape in the cloud. You don’t have to deal with it.
  4. You can view and fully edit your CAD data from any computer that has a modern browser and any iOS or Android device.
  5. There is absolutely zero IT required to use Onshape and to stay up to date. All third-party Integrated Cloud Apps in Onshape’s App Store are always up to date as well.

Take a look at the most recent “What’s New in Onshape’s Latest Update” blog post. It’s a typical rundown of the new enhancements that users discover when they log in (one Onshape customer told us it’s like experiencing “Christmas morning” multiple times a year!) The benefit of receiving new useful features in a gradual trickle, versus getting them dropped on you all at once, is that you can more easily learn them in small bites.

Tired of paying subscription fees for upgrades you don’t want or need? Give Onshape a try today.