I imagine software upgrades like vaccines. I’m one of those people that don’t get them just because they tell me I’ll die if I don’t. I check it out first. Sometimes it’s unnecessary, contains mercury, arsenic and just the right amount of recombinant mouse DNA to give your body a delayed hypersensitivity reaction.

SolidWorks Legions brings up some interesting thoughts on the SolidWorks release cycle and makes a suggestion. A 2-4 year release cycle. How would you like that? Upgrading SolidWorks every couple years?

Well, while it’s certainly feasible, here’s why it would work and why it wouldn’t work.

It would work…
For the user. Less worry about compatibility, less preparation, less hardware and software upgrades.

It does work and you can actually do this. There’s nothing that says you have to upgrade every year.

The company I work for did it with 2001+ and didn’t upgrade till 2005. Were we missing out? Maybe, but not on any feature that would add more efficiency… for us. Waiting a few releases made the process of upgrading hardware easier too.

Of course, this turns into a major expenditure every four years instead of a somewhat even yearly cost. So, if you have a budget for new software and hardware every year, you may want to upgrade just to keep the budget and not incur the charge for restarting subscription service. You can do a simple cost analysis to see the difference.

It would not work…
For the software company. Companies are in business to make money. The customer is money. More customers, more money. It’s the same all over. SolidWorks has been around for just 12 years, so a 2-year release cycle would believably cut their revenue in half.

With a new release that comes out every 2-4 years there’s less incentive to get on subscription service maintenance. In fact, it becomes almost useless as a regularized revenue source. It would also throw off quarterly and yearly estimated earnings reports and fluctuate EBITDA (Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) beyond recognizable profitability. In other words, they probably would sell as many seats with subscription service.

Right now, it’s up to you
SolidWorks has a new version every year (sometimes a plus version halfway through), but generally you know your needs and what features you need to be more productive. You can upgrade if you want. You can decide not to.

It does help to stay on top of the technology though. Something may be added that could fully automate your design routine. Fortunately there’s a lot of ways for you to find out what new features are going into each release of SolidWorks – the What’s New, your VAR’s rollouts, and of course this wonderful blog.


Josh is founder and editor at SolidSmack.com, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.