Proud SolidWorks Customers

Today Josh Mings wrote a piece on his blog titled “SolidWorks To Customers: You Are Not Entitled to Service Packs“. Basically SolidWorks is better enforcing its existing policy of not providing service packs to customers not on subscription.

This reminded me of my interview with Shaun Murphy, the Product Manager of the core SolidWorks product at SolidWorks World 2010. Among many things, I asked him what he thought about Alibre’s permanent price reduction of Alibre Design Standard to sub $100 levels. Towards the end of his reply, Shaun mentioned that there was pride associated with owning a seat of SolidWorks. This is what followed:

Deelip: Pride?

Shaun: Yes, users are proud to own a MCAD system like SolidWorks. There is something to it.

Deelip: Shaun, I really hope you take this the right way. I don’t see the pride in denying non-subscription customers access to service packs? Do you want your paying customers to pay you more for fixing your bugs as well? I am a software developer and do not charge my customers for bugs that they find and report to me, whether they are on subscription or not.

Shaun: When a customer purchases a subscription he gets a whole lot more than just bug fixes.

Deelip: I get that. But I do not believe that the fact that you allow customers to purchase SolidWorks without subscription and then do not give them fixes to bugs that they helped you find is something that you or they can be proud of.

Shaun: You raise a good point. I will get back to you on this issue.

Needless to say, Shaun never got back to me on the “good point” that I had raised. And frankly, I didn’t expect him to either. Because sooner than later, this issue will cease to exist. SolidWorks is going to shove all its proud customers on to the cloud (read this) and everyone will be on subscription. Problem solved.

On the contrary, Autodesk clearly distinguishes between new functionality and bug fixes. Service packs are meant for bug fixes, which is precisely what they contain and are free to download by all, irrespective of whether a customer is on subscription or not. New functionality is added to something called Subscription Advantage Packs which are available to customers on subscription only. For example, till recently the Inventor Fusion Change Manager add-in worked only on Inventor installations that had a particular Subscription Advantage Pack installed. SolidWorks can easily do the same. Just that they do not want to.

Is it just me or is anyone else getting the feeling that SolidWorks is slowly losing track of the one thing that made them what they are today – their “proud” customers.