SolidWorks 2013 was launched at a media event today. Following the tweets coming out from the event I noticed a mention of a new conceptual design product, a yet-to-be-named V6 based product, a release date of May 2013 and some talk about one product not being a replacement for another. I asked for a clarification and ended up with this conversation with Matt West, SolidWorks’ social media manager.
Apparently this new product will debut at the next SolidWorks World. If that happens I think it will be a good thing for the company. There has been way too much confusion surrounding the new SolidWorks V6 meant to eventually replace the current Parasolid based SolidWorks. Most of it has been caused by SolidWorks themselves by announcing something too early, failing to deliver, keeping quiet on the subject for way too long and letting people come to their own conclusions on the future of the product. In my six years of commenting on the CAD software industry I have yet to see a worse public relations train wreck than SolidWorks V6.
A lot of water has flown under the bridge since I published my interview with Jeff Ray where he spoke about killing SolidWorks. People construed Jeff’s statements in different ways and a lot was written about it (see “Killing SolidWorks For Dummies“). Since then Jeff was promoted out of SolidWorks, moved to Dassault Systemes headquarters in Paris and has now left to head another company. The VP of R&D and co-founder left within the span of a week with the company stating that the high-level departures were unrelated. From the people I know working at SolidWorks and those who have left I’m getting a pretty good idea of the situation in the company. Let’s just say it would help if SolidWorks actually delivered a CAD product that was based on V6. The company today claimed to be six months away from doing that.
The way I look at it, the initial development plan of SolidWorks V6 along with the product definition itself seems to have gone belly up. Which is why this new V6 based conceptual design product is a good idea because firstly, it should be quicker to get out of the door than a full blown replacement for the Parasolid based SolidWorks. This will buy SolidWorks some more time to get SolidWorks V6 out. And secondly, it will help to reinforce the assertion being made by the company that the current Parasolid based SolidWorks will coexist with a V6 based product. Customers will see “SolidWorks 2014, 2015, 2016 and so on…”, as Matt put it, being released along with SolidWhateverWorks V6 R2014, R2015, 2016 and so on eventually making way for the full blown SolidWorks V6.
Either that or SolidWorks has reduced SolidWorks V6 to be a conceptual design product and is going to continue with the Parasolid based product till someone gets another brainwave. Time will tell.