ZwSoft is offering free upgrades to network licenses. In doing this, it is aiming directly at Autodesk's discontinuance of our industry's normal approach to network licensing. (Autodesk now only sells a license per person.) The Chinese software company has software for DWG editing, machine design, some verticals, and for portable devices. It offers permanent licenses, maintenance subscriptions, and rent-to-own licenses.
How Network Licenses Work
Network licenses allow anyone at a firm to run as much CAD software as they need. Some might need CAD for just a few minutes a day, others use it all day. With network licensing, people who don't need it very much are not penalized by paying a full price, as Autodesk has now imposed.
A network license typically specifies the maximum number of instances of software that can run at the same time. If the limit is 10, then ten people can operate the CAD program at the same time. Network licenses are particularly useful for firms that employ shift work: ten users during the day, ten more during the evening shift, and ten during the graveyard shift.
Because many more people can use the software than can with stand-alone licenses, network licenses tend to cost 30-40% more than stand-alone ones. Under Autodesk's new scheme, the firm would pay 200% more by having to purchase 30 licenses.
To track of the number of copies of software being used, firms deploy network licensing software on a central server. At times, there might only be one or zero people making use of the ten licenses. Maybe ten is too many -- or too few. Network analysis software logs the demand for software so that you can adjust the number of licenses appropriately.
Companies like Graebert Gmbh check your license use at the end of each month (of Kudo, in their case), and then accordingly adjust the amount you pay. In their scenario, you don't pay for too many licenses or work with too few.
Knowing the Unknowns
The ZwSoft offer, which runs until the end of the year, offers network licenses at no extra cost. If you license 20 or more copies, then they throw in a Network License Analysis Tool, normally $500 extra.
The fine print, however, notes that "The license is time-limited,"
[Sept 2, 2020: ZwSoft wrote me with some additions and corrections.]
so we don't know how long the network licenses run for free. At some point, ZwSoft might send you a bill.
On its Web site, ZwSoft publishes no network license prices, so we have no idea what the savings are. We know, however, that stand-alone prices are going up. because...
"On our Network License offer, it is a free trial through 12/31/20. At that point, users will have the option to purchase. We will not issue any charges, unless they explicitly purchase. The price to upgrade to network licensing for STD is $225 and $50."
A few days before announcing free network licenses, the company announced price increases with the release of ZwCAD 2021 on September 1. In general, prices go up $200:
- ZWCAD STD from $799 to $999 $899
- ZWCAD PRO from $999 to $1199
Subscribe-to-Own (after 4 months)
- ZWCAD STD $200/month to $250/mo $225/mo
- ZWCAD PRO $250/mo to $300/mo
The company says it has 900,000 users.
With Autodesk making stumbles like emphasizing named-licensing, failing to port all its software to the cloud, and de-emphasizing development of legacy software like Revit, competitors are lovin' it. Earlier this year, Bricsys, for example, released a video educating users on the drawbacks to named licensing. During a media event last month, Siemens emphasized that design software does not belong on the cloud. Over the summer, nearly a hundred architectural design firms worldwide signed a letter publicizing the problems they face using Revit in 2020.
Being closer to Wall Street than to Main Street is not the way to keep customers content.