Autodesk's "In the Machine" blogger yesterday was the first to reveal the existence of a lower-cost version of Inventor. Initially, it appeared to all that Inventor LT would be free, and I wondered about the future the another free 3D modeler, Alibre Xpress.
But then more details emerged. Inventor LT is a free
beta technology preview, will cost US$1,000, can't do assemblies, and won't work with add-ons. Contrast that with the free Xpress that allows 25 unique parts per assembly (more in the future) and includes APIs. Greg Milliken (formerly of Autodesk marketing, now ceo of Alibre) can go back to sleeping at night and during the day, continue to rage against The Machine.
An upFront.eZine reader wrote me, "Just got the news today, from Tenlinks Daily, about Autodesk giving away Inventor LT. I am a signed up member of the Autodesk Labs site and wasn’t made aware of that news.
"I downloaded the software okay with all the accessories and add-ons but when I applied the license code to request the activation code it would not work. I called a reseller about this and he told me that it was over on May 1st, today, which was not announced beforehand. I would have liked to tell my students in high school about this so they could have taken advantage of it for themselves. Do you think they might extend the time to acquire it?"
Let's take the reader's concerns one at a time...
* Learned about it from Tenlinks Daily, not Autodesk Labs -- Autodesk's marketing plan was to spread the news through blogs, such as their own and independent ones. If I can take some credit, Tenlinks learned about it from me, and I had been pre-alerted by an Autodesk employee that a new MCAD product would be announced on In the Machine yesterday.
* Activation code would not work -- on discussion forums, there were complaints of the auth system not working, which Autodesk explained as bugs in the initial roll-out. A workaround is to start the download again to generate the activation email, and then cancel the near-1GB download.
* Over on May 1 -- a misunderstanding; the downloads continue to be available, but the beta stops working on May 1 a year from now, in 2008.
* Students take advantage of this -- I'd argue that this software is not meant for students, due to the lack of assemblies, an important concept. Instead, I'd point them towards the free version of Inventor for students. Inventor LT is meant as a file viewer and parts creator-editor.