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Software Businesses

Design Software Giants Target the Unemployed 204

Posted by kdawson
from the got-designs-on-you dept.
avishere writes "People are losing their jobs, but for some execs the economic meltdown seems like the perfect time to get their software into the hands of those who can't afford their multi-thousand-dollar price tags. Software giants Autodesk and SolidWorks have each latched onto the worst-economic-disaster-since-the-Great-Depression meme and released free versions of their flagship computer-aided-design brands before their potential users are forced to sell their laptops on Craigslist. 'In these uncertain economic times,' Autodesk coos sympathetically, it will give away temporary licenses of AutoCAD and other software to those unemployed in the fields of architecture, engineering, and design. (They are also developing a Mac version, two decades after abandoning the platform.) SolidWorks was quick to respond with its subtly titled Engineering Stimulus Package. So if anyone out there has their weekdays free, jumpstart your hardware and design projects for cheap. Legally, too."
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Design Software Giants Target the Unemployed

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  • how about that (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @06:14PM (#27496625)

    It's actually cost effective to freely distribute your software to people who want to learn it.

    It's like someone figured out that someone will eventually pay for a license for software you are good at using.

    • Isn't that what Adobe does with Photoshop? I'm sure there is someone out there who has actually paid for it, but I've never met them... Oh come on! Just kidding.
      • SolidWorks was already available for cheap since Dassault Systems released the student development kit. Sure, the licenses only last for for about 6 months, but they're also like $80. That's a far cry from the typical licensing fees.

        Now if only there was a student version of CAMWorks...

      • I've paid for it - $100 for the cheapie version that does what I need for retouching.
    • Adobe (Score:3, Insightful)

      Thats why Adobe is so popular. Piracy does build huge user bases and when the younger user base grows up they are already hooked on your brand and will buy a license eventually. Now I'm not saying that everyone will buy a license by quite a few will.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Hurricane78 (562437)

        Well... Those "pirates" (ARRR [tumblr.com]) chose to download and use specifically Adobe product for a reason. When everything is free, you take everything, and keep only what you like.

        If only others would realize the marketing potential of file-sharing networks.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by petermgreen (876956)

          Of course marketing through pirate software only helps if you can get the people to pay eventually.

          Thats why theese companies tolerate piracy by individuals who aren't yet making any money out of them but form organisations like the BSA to scare companies out of running pirate software.

      • Thats why Adobe is so popular. Piracy does build huge user bases and when the younger user base grows up they are already hooked on your brand and will buy a license eventually. Now I'm not saying that everyone will buy a license by quite a few will.

        I didn't buy a license. I got legitimate! I moved to GIMP!

        • I didn't buy a license. I got legitimate! I moved to GIMP!

          I tried GIMP. Even the new 2.6 doesn't work with 16 never mind 24 bit colour depths. However CinePaint [cinepaint.org] can work with 32 bits per colour channel. GIMP doesn't work with CYMK either. Ah apparently there are plugins [meetthegimp.org] for CYMK. My problem is that CinePaint requires X11 to run on Macs but I wasn't able to get it to work. So what I want to do is install Ubuntu on my Mac to try CinePaint. I'd like to get a book on it but though there are books for GIM

      • Most Pirates just want to try an expensive piece of software before they buy it. Most of them are students or unemployed people who cannot afford the software so they pirate it. Once they get a good paying job they will naturally buy a legit version of each software title they pirated and liked. But not the ones they didn't like.

        I recall Windows 3.1 became popular on the BBSes when they were downloading the install disk images and passing them from BBS to BBS. That is one way that Windows 3.1 beat OS/2 2.0

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by palegray.net (1195047)
      I still disagree with the time limits on the licenses. It's okay to watermark the creative output if someone hasn't purchased the product, but what in the hell is the point of stopping someone from using a "learning edition" product just because 90 days have passed?
      • by sponga (739683)

        Yes, some of us younger Civil Engineers were looking forward to some of the new features making things much more seamless and the layout of the Ribbon bar makes things nice also while the vets will grunt at you and use the command line.

        The 90 days kind of ruins it though; I mean some of my individual projects from survey, layout to estimate take far more than 90 days just to get the wet stamp of approval.

        Working only for commission right now is tough in between permanent jobs; would be nice if they Autodesk

      • by couchslug (175151)

        "what in the hell is the point of stopping someone from using a "learning edition" product just because 90 days have passed?"

        "Have some crack, kid!"

        Nothing a BIOS clock adjustment can't work around...

        • Anyone know how the set (change) the time of a virtual machine?

          I run linux so it would be in a virtual machine (VirtualBox) anyways. If I can change the clock of just the virtual machine, I don't have to mess up the rest of my system.
          • "If I can change the clock of just the virtual machine, I don't have to mess up the rest of my system."

            No, but the fact that you are asking how to do it on Slashdot rather than just fscking googling it [justfuckinggoogleit.com], suggests that you will find a way to do so just the same ;-)

    • Autodesk have been thought to do this for years already on the warez scene.

      Autodesk are thought to have released their own cracks for the dongle that they supply with the software. Unlike their main competitor with regard to architecture (ArchiCAD), AutoCAD was on warez sites within days of release, crack and all. ArchiCAD has always taken longer to get out there, more than likely because they won't crack their own dongles.

      • Re:how about that (Score:5, Informative)

        by th1nk (575552) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @07:36PM (#27497429)

        Autodesk have been thought to do this for years already on the warez scene.

        Autodesk are thought to have released their own cracks...

        I don't know the validity of your statement, but I do know that they are quick to send their lawyers out if they think you are profiting with a pirated copy of their software.

        I set up a website about 7 years ago when I was working for myself as a mechanical design engineer. The website showed some examples of my work created in AutoCAD, among other software packages. A few months after it went live I received a very threatening certified letter from a group of lawyers representing AutoCAD saying that they had no record of my company purchasing a license for AutoCAD. At that time I did not own a legitimate copy of AutoCAD. I wrote a letter back stating that the examples were created using a legitimate copy, that I was not currently using AutoCAD and that I would remove any references to it on my website if they wished. They then said that was cool and never pursued it again.

        • by spazdor (902907)

          I don't know the validity of your statement, but I do know that they are quick to send their lawyers out if they think you are profiting with a pirated copy of their software.

          Then their business model seems to have been working perfectly. They had the apparent moral high ground to send you letters and try and scare you out of working using pirated software, but thanks to the dongle crack you managed to go and build yourself up an AutoCAD skillset anyway.

          Did you end up purchasing (or get purchased for you) a

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dotancohen (1015143)

      It's actually cost effective to freely distribute your software to people who want to learn it.

      It's like someone figured out that someone will eventually pay for a license for software you are good at using.

      That may well be, but here I am with an Ubuntu machine and I'm willing to pay for another full Solidworks license if they will release for this platform. They _could_ be making money off me, but they'd rather give the software away for free then let me pay them for a Linux port. Luckily, SW 2006 runs fine in Virtual Box, and I can open it's window alone, without having the whole XP desktop visible.

    • by Jurily (900488)

      It's like someone figured out that someone will eventually pay for a license for software you are good at using.

      Blizzard and WoW. The client itself has no copy protection whatsoever.

      The catch: all the free servers out there suck. Horribly.

    • Actually they are temporary licenses. This is really no different from the free software for students that Microsoft gives out or the Express version of Visual BASIC 2008, Visual C# 2008, etc.

      It is software for the unemployed to learn to use, and when they get a job with it, their employer will have to pay the tens of thousands of dollars to have the former unemployed person become their employee and buy a retail version of the software.

  • They are also developing a Mac version, two decades after abandoning the platform.

    ...it's about FRICKIN' TIME! What were they waiting for? Windows XP to become a legacy system?

    • by zuzulo (136299)

      This is really awesome. I love solidworks and autocad inventor, great apps. But of course, they waited to give out free windows licences till just about a month *after* i got rid of my only remaining microsoft machines which were used exclusively to run these two applications. bah humbug, after finally getting out from under the microsoft heel now i have to go back again. At least i still have xp pro licences lying around. ;-)

    • They were waiting for Apple to get more than 0.0005% market share. (Yes, I'm exaggerating.)

      The funny thing is, now that they've finally done it, it's not necessary. If someone wants to buy a Mac for the "cool" factor of the design or having 8 xeonriffic cores, they can load windows on it and run all the windows software they want. :)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by R3d M3rcury (871886)

      Actually, AutoCAD was the classic example of companies that "just don't get it" when it comes to the Mac.

      AutoCAD for the Mac was released back in 1988, I believe. But what they did was port their DOS-based product to the Mac. It didn't work or look like a Mac product (no menubar, windows, or anything like that), it worked and looked just like the DOS product. The company said that they planned to release this version first and then make a "more Mac-like" one later on based upon how well this one sold.

      Of

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jcr (53032)

        The reality, though, was that there wasn't a big enough market for DOS ports to the Mac.

        That's for sure.

        Mac users expected a Mac interface.

        That's mostly true, but the key is that Mac users demand a good UI. If you look at something like Maya, that breaks a lot of Mac UI principles but it's not a complete train wreck like Autocad always was.

        -jcr

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by JakartaDean (834076)

        Actually, AutoCAD was the classic example of companies that "just don't get it" when it comes to the Mac.

        AutoCAD for the Mac was released back in 1988, I believe. But what they did was port their DOS-based product to the Mac. It didn't work or look like a Mac product (no menubar, windows, or anything like that), it worked and looked just like the DOS product. The company said that they planned to release this version first and then make a "more Mac-like" one later on based upon how well this one sold.

        Of

  • by Tetsujin (103070) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @06:15PM (#27496639) Homepage Journal

    "These uncertain economic times"

    I'm tired of hearing it. It's like the PR tool's qualifier for everything.

    • by Chabo (880571) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @06:26PM (#27496747) Homepage Journal

      No kidding.

      Maybe if people stopped calling these "economic times" "uncertain", then they'd stabilize!

      • by JanneM (7445) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @06:34PM (#27496837) Homepage

        Maybe if people stopped calling these "economic times" "uncertain", then they'd stabilize!

        And maybe if they stopped calling these times "economic" all money would disappear!

        Sorry.

        • And maybe if they stopped calling these times "economic" all money would disappear!

          And maybe if they'd stop calling it "time" our universe would disappear!

          Or at least be static, in which case we'd have no chance to formulate thoughts on the universe, in which case the universe would, in essence, cease to exist due to lack of observation. Or maybe instead we'd all instantaneously be travelling at the speed of light, since the universe would be static (i.e., "time" would have stopped). Or something.

          Now, w

      • by Chyeld (713439) <chyeld AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @07:17PM (#27497237)

        You may have been marked as funny, but you do deserve a bit of insightful for that.

        Perhaps not all of it, but a portion of the 'uncertainty' is due to the fact that everyone is certain that we are in 'uncertain' times. If we stopped pushing that down folks throats, then there might be less panic to keep things stired up.

        • by Chabo (880571)

          You're right; I wasn't actually going for Funny with that one.

          People are scared of spending money right now because they hear "OMG CRISIS" every day, but the best way to make sure that we don't end up in another Depression is for people to spend money. Otherwise, more businesses (small businesses, mind you, I'm not talking about those "too big to fail") will go out of sale, putting more people out of work, putting the economy in an even worse state.

          Fortunately for me, I just got a new job and moved across t

          • by jcr (53032)

            the best way to make sure that we don't end up in another Depression is for people to spend money.

            Broken Window Fallacy. Google it.

            -jcr

            • by Chabo (880571)

              The Broken Window Fallacy just means that we shouldn't break windows for the express purpose of creating more business for the glacier.

              However, if people stop replacing windows that get broken naturally, the glacier will go out of business.

              • The Broken Window Fallacy just means that we shouldn't break windows for the express purpose of creating more business for the glacier.

                I didn't know ice rivers did anything business related. Gee, the things you learn on /. these days! :D

                Silliness aside, I think the word you wanted was "glazier", as in, "someone who glazes windows". For that matter, I wonder if "someone who glazes doughnuts" is also a glazier? Mmm, doughnuts...

                Cheers,

        • by sowth (748135)

          But then the big companies won't be able to get free "bailouts" from the governments, and they'll have to do desperate things to make money. ...like selling goods and providing services for reasonable prices. Oh no!

    • True, in reality it's pretty certain what's going to happen from here on out.

      Higher unemployment, a bit of something that looks like recovery, a sudden bout of inflation, high interest rates, more unemployment, inflation gets under control, unemployed bankers find something better to do with their lives than make bets about something they don't understand, then recovery. Might be some other fun stuff in there along the way, but that's the main thrust of it.
      • by plopez (54068)

        unemployed bankers find something better to do with their lives than make bets about something they don't understand

        They knew what they were doing. See:

        http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/04032009/transcript1.html [pbs.org]

        • Fuck them all.

          I've been wondering for a while now why they didn't just get down to the business of finding the exact value of the mortgage backed securities. If they did, it would end the whole problem almost immediately: investors would be willing to buy them again because they would know their true value.

          Now I know. It's corrupt bankers, trying to hide their corruption, and cowardly politicians, trying to 'protect' the general public. We could be all done with this by now and on the road to recover
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by phantomfive (622387)
            We know how often people typically default. We know how often they typically default during recessions. The only real unknown here is how many of those loans were given to people without documentation. How many of those loans were rated AAA when in reality there was no chance they would be repaid. If those questions are answered, we can return stability to the financial sector. Although it will probably be a stability at a point much lower than some people would like.
  • by md17 (68506) * <james@j a m e sward.org> on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @06:16PM (#27496645) Homepage

    Adobe recently announced a similar program but for software developers:
    http://www.jamesward.com/blog/2009/04/03/free-flex-builder-for-unemployed-developers/ [jamesward.com]

    -James (Adobe)

    • by Tetsujin (103070) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @06:22PM (#27496705) Homepage Journal

      YA, we offer FREE FLEX for all the WUSSY LITTLE GIRLY MEN!

    • There are two big problems with Adobe software: full licences are very expensive (particularly the upgrades) compared to good-enough competition, and a lot of the big name products now come with DRM that causes serious practical difficulties even without the ethical considerations that would offend a lot of people reading this.

      Until you fix those things, your software is not a viable choice for many of us, so please keep your unsubtle advertising to yourself.

      • by Malkin (133793)

        Which differs from Autodesk... how, exactly?

        I'll be honest with you: The DRM in Photoshop causes a very real and direct problem for me, as a single user who previously used her Photoshop license on three machines, all of which are not used by anyone else. I am a legitimate user, not attempting to defraud the company in any way, and Adobe's DRM is nonetheless extremely inconvenient for me. However, I have the same exact problem with the DRM in Autodesk Maya, which also limits me to two machines. So I don'

      • by gaspyy (514539)

        First, what Adobe products use is not DRM. We devalue the word if we tag every software restriction as "DRM".

        What Photoshop and other CS products have is license management (think WGA if you will). It will let you activate the products two computers, which I actually find decent. On the other hand, transferring a license from a dead computer can be a hassle (almost happened to me once, the drive was failing but I managed to boot and deactivate the license on it). I wish they had an online tool for managing

  • I looked... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Chabo (880571) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @06:19PM (#27496667) Homepage Journal

    I was hoping that they were just giving away short-term licenses to anyone, but apparently if you sign up for the program, you have to be verifiably unemployed. I wonder what method they use to check...

    (hmm... Firefox says that "verifiably" isn't a word, but I looked it up, turns out it's a valid adverb form [thefreedictionary.com] of "verifiable")

    • by Chabo (880571)

      To answer my own question:

      Autodesk reserves the right to contact the former employer HR contact to confirm program
      eligibility and applicants will be asked to consent to such enquiries.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by physicsphairy (720718)
        I put down CowboyNeal. I hope if he gets a call he'll confirm that I don't work for him.
      • Bang. THERE's the secret!

        What kind of phenomenal privacy grab is that?! "For the price of a license we can not only know who you worked for, but why you're no longer there, and "aggregate that information (in reversible ways) to better provide you with the Autocad customer experience".

        Preying on the desperate.

    • by Ilgaz (86384)

      They could easily verify if you are jobless. E.g. referrer=slashdot.org at work hour.

      Oh wait...

    • by adavies42 (746183)

      (hmm... Firefox says that "verifiably" isn't a word, but I looked it up, turns out it's a valid adverb form [thefreedictionary.com] of "verifiable")

      firefox's dictionary is horrible. i've lost track of the number of technical terms and simple grammatical derivations it's missing. the os x dictionary is far better, but i'm stuck on windows here at work....

    • "(hmm... Firefox says that "verifiably" isn't a word, but I looked it up, turns out it's a valid adverb form of "verifiable")"

      Can anyone verify this?

    • I'm not entirely sure they are checking, so much as going by the "honor system". I signed up and was verified within a couple hours... like around 2am CST. If they are actually verifying this stuff, it's probably not being handled by a human.

      That said, I'm glad these guys are doing this. The software is interesting and makes for a unique learning experience. Just don't get any funny ideas and try using it for profit though...

  • Smart Move (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pearson (953531) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @06:25PM (#27496739)
    This actually makes sense. The most important thing for a software company to be successful is to have people who know how to use their software. Which is why student prices and Learning Editions exist. And there have been reports that some laid off workers are starting their own companies, so getting your software into the hands of those people would be a smart move, too.
    • by geobeck (924637)

      A number of years ago, an Autodesk sales rep told me that the company consciously turned a blind eye to 'unofficial' copying of their software by students. Their increasing use of DRM has probably made it more challenging to copy AutoCAD since then, but it seems as if this announcement is merely making an unofficial policy official as a PR move.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dotancohen (1015143)

      This actually makes sense. The most important thing for a software company to be successful is to have people who know how to use their software. Which is why student prices and Learning Editions exist. And there have been reports that some laid off workers are starting their own companies, so getting your software into the hands of those people would be a smart move, too.

      My local Solidworks distributor is a moron in this regard. He insists that students pay $400 for a license. And the company won't sell to me directly. I don't think that SW even has our local language support, so I will probably buy the $99 student version from a foreign vendor.

      I should also mention that when I went to my faculty's computer help desk to ask about a student version, they gave me two options:
      1) Pool with 9 other students who would be willing to share a license (I have no idea how this would w

  • Bravo! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by N!NJA (1437175)
    nothing like an economic meltdown to make Co's recognize the value of their most important asset: their current and potential customers.
    • by Deagol (323173)

      That, or they're acknowledging the true value of bits on a disk: zero.

      • "That, or they're acknowledging the true value of bits on a disk: zero."

        You can make ridiculous claims all you want, but you can have the particular stream of "zero value" bits to which I lovingly refer to as my pr0n, when you pry the storage medium out of my cold dead hands (well the right one might still be a bit warm) ...

  • Buy a new Saturn today!*

    If you lose your job, don't worry.. we will postpone the repossession for up to 9 months!
  • Oh, US and Canada only. Never mind then.

  • HR realises that they can save licencing $$$$$ by firing the entire engineering team and farming out CAD jobs on Mechanical Turk, for the newly unemployed to do with their free software.

    Ponies for everyone!
  • by Qbertino (265505) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @06:51PM (#27496995)

    Read this sort of thing along the lines of: "Since you're now low on dough and high on time, we're giving you our stuff for free so you dare not move to open source in general and Blender [blender.org] in specific to refocus your skills there, because that little Project is closing in on us in leaps and bounds and frankly is scaring the living piss out of us."

    I sold my Lightwave 8.5 Licence (+ books 'n stuff) and forfeighted the right for cheap upgrades of this very neat Hollywood Grade 3D Kit because Blender has gotten so good, there are only very few features missing that LW has, and quite a few that LW (or any other closed source kit) doesn't have. Oh, and btw., Blender 2.5 is coming closer with a complete architectural redo that will boost its developement even further. The 3D market is tough as it is and Blender is a scaring thing to watch for SideFX, AutoDesk, NewTek and the likes, you can believe that. The 3D tool market allways was tough, but these days its even more so - wouldn't wanna swap with any of those companies still asking upwards of 3000 Euros for their software.

    • by igloonaut (1376833) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @07:01PM (#27497093)

      [My english is better than most other people's german, so please point out mistakes politely. Thank you.]

      Good afternoon! I believe German should be capitalized if you please.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      That may be true for the architectural design side of things, but isn't really true for floorplans and is certainly far from true for the SolidWorks part of the story. SolidWorks is still the platform of choice in almost every Mechanical Engineering project I've gotten a glimpse of.

      The thing however, and this applies to AutoCAD too in this case, these products are 3D CAD, not graphics software. The mindset to work in one is different to working in the other
      • by kidgenius (704962)
        Then you must not have been part of many mechanical engineering projects. Solidworks is used by little guys who don't have the cash to pony up for the real deal. The big engineering firms in the aerospace and automotive sectors (along with pretty much any Fortune 500 engineering firm) use complete engineering packages provided by CATIA, UGS/IDEAS or Pro-E.
    • by ivoras (455934)
      Since it's such a successful project, it looks like somebody must pay for the developers... 3D graphics is a fairly specific area that requires not only generic programming knowledge but a fair amount of math. I looked around a little at http://www.blender.org/blenderorg/blender-foundation/ [blender.org] but there is no list of donators or sponsors. So, who's paying? If it's about services - what services? Developers are usually not very good at teaching art and writing books.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by adamchou (993073)
      I think this is incorrectly interpreting the motive of these companies. Its not because of fear of blender. If it was, they would give it away regardless of the economic situation. This is much more about marketing their product to people that are in a dire economic situation. Once they attain these loyal customers now, they'll continue to be loyal when the economy returns. Besides, there is some evidence [google.com] that during the great depression, it was the companies that continued to aggressively promote their bra
    • At the mechanical engineering level a good example would be Alibre, which is a parametric design software (like Solid Works or Autodesk Inventor).
    • Blender 2.5 is coming closer with a complete architectural redo that will boost its developement even further.

      Wow, looks like they forgot about the hookers and blackjack and got down to business.

  • we (well not me, but the engineers i work with )are pretty serious solidworks users.
    and at the last project mtg, the boss says, i gotta show everyone this, i did a model of our project over the weekend with google sketchup which is free, and he says, of course it isn't solidworks, but the 3d rotation is better...
    Those of you with memories of more then a few minutes will remember that there use to be this great software called proE, and it was incredibly exspensive, and along came this "low cost" upstart, s

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