DoubleCAD XT

IMSI has finally launched DoubleCAD XT, what they call “an AutoCAD LT work-alike, but free“. A professional version called DoubleCAD XT Pro is on the way and will cost $695. They are calling it “an AutoCAD LT work-alike, but better, for about half the price“.

Clearly the plan here is to hit Autodesk where it hurts them the most – AutoCAD LT, Autodesk’s cash cow. I will let IMSI explain their strategy in their own words:

“We’re trying to shake up the CAD world. We won’t do that unless we have something special.

DoubleCAD™ XT is a full-powered 2D CAD application — one that you already know how to use — and is free with none of the usual limitations:

We’re not constraining printing, saving, file sizes… we’re not including untimely time-outs… we’re not even constraining the software license — our free DoubleCAD™ XT can be used for unlimited personal and commercial use.

Our hope is that as you need even more power, you’ll consider upgrading to our enhanced DoubleCAD™ XT Pro product or DoubleCAD™ plug-ins as available.”

So their plan appears to be two fold. First get Autodesk customers to dump AutoCAD LT and use the free DoubleCAD XT instead. Next, wait for these former Autodesk customers to upgrade to the Professional version.

IMSI is ramping up the rhetoric a notch by calling their free DoubleCAD XT an “upgrade” to AutoCAD LT since they claim that it has more features. But here is an interesting twist. IMSI claims to be targeting only AutoCAD LT users, not those of the full blown AutoCAD. In their own words:

“Whether you like or dislike Autodesk, AutoCAD® is the standard. As such, our goal is simply to be a better companion to AutoCAD® than AutoCAD LT® is. We’ve done this by creating one product that’s dramatically better than AutoCAD LT® (XT Pro)… and another that’s dramatically less expensive (XT free).”

This can be seen from the fact that the free and professional versions of DoubleCAD XT do not have support for plug-ins or LISP, which is one of the main advantages of AutoCAD over LT. However, IMSI intends to add plug-in functionality to DoubleCAD (I am assuming professional only) in the future.

IMSI is also taking a dig at IntelliCAD. According to them:

“ITC-based products have had reliability and robustness issues over the years and, except for a few niche exceptions, have failed to gain traction in the marketplace. ITC-based products target AutoCAD® and rarely try to surpass or innovate.”

As far as the change of name from A/CAD to DoubleCAD, that happenned because big daddy Autodesk threatened to sue IMSI. So I guess someone is beginning to feeling the heat.

So the big question is: “Will this plan work?“. Well, it all depends on three factors:

(1) whether the software is as good as AutoCAD LT, if not better

(2) whether it is stable (and this is very important)

(3) whether IMSI can take on Autodesk Marketing (this is largely dependent on 2)

Looks like the global economic crisis has come at the right time for IMSI. It will be interesting to see if they can capitalize on it.

As IMSI says, “Why pirate — when you can be legal — for free.