The boxed copy sales model for professional software is dead, and increasingly companies are realizing that charging certain customers at all doesn’t make much sense. Microsoft figured it out, and Autodesk is expanding the pool of people who get free access to include all students, teachers and schools at academic institutions around the world. That’s in addition to the U.S., where it made its software free earlier this year as part of the ConnectED program created by President Barack Obama.
The move means that Autodesk software, including AutoCAD, Sketchbook, 3D Max, Maya and more, will be available to around 680 million students and teachers across 800,000 secondary and post-secondary schools, according to the company, without any paid license required. The catch is that some cloud services and support require additional paid subscriptions, but that’s pretty much par for the course when it comes to enterprise software sales model these days.
Free software for schools and students means that people will come out of those institutions with the skills needed to make use of your tools in enterprise settings, which in turn should help workplaces select your software for company-wide use. It’s a logical move, and in a world where cloud services can provide additional revenue to shore up losses from boxed copy and license sales, one that should ultimately benefit Autodesk far more than any money it’s giving up in the short-term.