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Autodesk Will No Longer Offer Mechanical Desktop Except With Inventor

Customers steered towards Autodesk's latest MCAD software

Article updated: 02/10/02

See Also

 Migrating to Inventor - upFrontezine, Feb 3, 2002
  Autodesk Inventor Series - on Autodesk site
  TenLinks Inventor TopTen
  Inventor reviews
Autodesk Mechanical Desktop - directory by TenLinks.com
 Ultimate MCAD Directory at TenLinks

Autodesk will discontinue sales of Mechanical Desktop as a standalone product as of February 6, 2002. The successor product will be Inventor Series 5, a package that contains Autodesk Inventor version 5.3, Autodesk Mechanical Desktop version 6, and AutoCAD Mechanical version 6. Customers who want to buy new licenses of Autodesk Mechanical Desktop will now be required to purchase the Inventor Series to obtain it.

Autodesk announced its Inventor Series yesterday in a press release but made no mention of discontinuing Mechanical Desktop.

Users of Mechanical Desktop who have current subscriptions (Autodesk's term for maintenance contracts) will get Inventor Series 5 at no charge, effectively giving them a free upgrade to Inventor. Customers who don't have current maintenance contracts have only a few days to buy them before the withdrawal of Mechanical Desktop from the market.

The Inventor Series is being sold worldwide. Autodesk told resellers in a January 4 memorandum that they were not to tell customers about the news until February 4, 2002, presumably to prevent customers from exploiting the upgrade loophole. The memo said violation of the embargo would cause termination of a reseller's authorization to carry Autodesk products. But some dealers were quick to leak the news in order to stimulate sales of Mechanical Desktop subscriptions.

Starting this month, suggested retail prices for the Inventor Series are as follows:

  • new license - $5,195
  • upgrade from plain AutoCAD or AutoCAD Mechanical - $3,195
  • upgrade from Inventor 5 or Mechanical Desktop 6 - $1,295
  • upgrade from Inventor 4 or Mechanical Desktop 5 - $2,495
  • annual subscription - $1,095

The annual subscription includes upgrades, bug fixes, and Web support but not phone support. Autodesk will no longer sell a stand-alone Inventor. Autodesk will continue to sell AutoCAD Mechanical (a primarily 2D application for designers of machinery) for $4,195. Autodesk dealers typically discount prices from list, and list prices vary by country. Autodesk direct sales in large volumes may be discounted by up to 50%.

Right for You?

Autodesk has heretofore declined to say how many Inventor licenses it has sold. It does claim sales of more than 200,000 Mechanical Desktop licenses, and Autodesk representatives said last month that more than half of these folks have subscriptions. If these numbers are accurate, it wouldn't surprise us to see Autodesk claiming more than 100,000 Inventor users in the near future.

But just because Inventor is bundled with Mechanical Desktop doesn't mean customers are using it. Microsoft's Office suite comes with many PCs, but not everyone uses all its programs.

Instead of looking at questionable indicators of market share, prospective customers of products such as Inventor, Solid Edge, and SolidWorks would be wiser to focus on cost versus value delivered. Compare each CAD systems' capabilities with your requirements and pick the software that's best for the work you do. For example, SolidWorks is currently a more capable system than Inventor for designing net and near-net-shape castings. Its capabilities for blending, rounding, and lofting far exceed those of Inventor. But if your company don't need these capabilities and have AutoCAD licenses from which to upgrade, then Inventor ought to be less costly than SolidWorks.

Autodesk's aggressive pricing will force competitors to add capabilities that justify higher prices. That competition is good for CAD buyers.

Add your comments - email editor@tenlinks.com.

It is more accurate to say that after Feb 6 you can no longer buy Mechanical Desktop on its own. In the Inventor Series conference call, Autodesk said there would be (at least) one more update, "and then customers would decide about further releases."

Ralph Grabowsk

AutoCAD MDT was always a product that lagged way behind it's competition and Autodesk always promised that it was going to catch up to the competition on the next release. Inventor has always been a product that lags behind it's competition. Autodesk is now promising that Inventor.....

It's not hard to see a very disturbing pattern in Autodesk's claims.

Jon Banquer
Phoenix, Arizona

The Inventor Series which includes both Inventor 5.3 and MDT 6 offers a terrific value, it offers the best of both the 2D and 3D environments, it is a no risk solution that eases transition pains. Looks great to me.

Arnie Lemaire
Imaginit Technologies Canada

Neither Inventor 5.3 (the latest release) nor Mechanical Desktop will be available separately. To obtain either, one must purchase Inventor Series 5, which includes both Inventor and Mechanical Desktop. Mechanical Desktop isn't being withdrawn from the market, any more than Inventor is. The original Inventor 5 can be purchased separately, if anyone wants a non-current release of Inventor.

Customers with subscription for either Mechanical Desktop or Inventor will obtain the Series.

The intent was to provide subscribers with both packages. Since one cannot buy subscription except at the time of purchasing a new seat or upgrade, the alleged loophole does not exist. I believe the purpose of having a pre-planned date for the release of new product information is to prevent confusion in the marketplace.

Dennis Hagerman, President
Hagerman & Company, Inc.

[ed note: the article has been corrected to reflect the facts]



This is a excerpt of an article that appears in

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February 2002 in the Computer Aided Design Report

Why CAD isn't up to PLM and what you can do about it -- The CAD/CAM marketing arms of IBM and EDS are touting “product lifecycle management.” Find out why even high-priced CAD/CAM systems aren't adequate for PLM and how you can compensate for their weaknesses through careful management. 

ProSTEP tests indicate progress -- Tests by ProSTEP, the German association for promoting CAD data exchange through ISO Standard 10303, indicate that STEP translators are better than ever.  Discover who did best and worst and why even tougher testing is needed.

Projection display buyer's guide -- There are few more effective ways to review designs than sitting around the conference table looking at a big bright screen. Learn how to shop for the clearest, brightest projector at the lowest price.

Innoveda translates HDL to PC boards -- Eliminating interactive schematic capture can save labor and cut development time for makers of complex chips and boards. 

Notes & Quotes: IBM stops PC manufacture; Simplex misses its numbers; Pro/Engineer sales continue to slide; Ikos in tug-of-war; What's behind the EDAC statistics; Spatial Inc. sues Autodesk.

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