Autodesk announced Monday that it has decided to make its products free to students and academic institutions around the globe. This is in addition to a previous US initiative; the company already made its software free to middle and high school students as part of the ConnectED program created by President Obama.
Autodesk's new offer also gives institutions the same free access, so instructors and staff can gain access to its suite of software in schools. The action will make Autodesk software, including AutoCAD, Sketchbook, 3DS Max, Maya and more, free and accessible to around 680 million students and educators across 800,000 secondary and post-secondary schools in 188 countries for use in classrooms, labs and at home, the company said.
"The way we make things is changing rapidly, and we need a workforce ready to design for new manufacturing and construction techniques. By providing free professional design tools to students, faculty members and academic institutions around the world, we're helping get industry ready for the next phase," said Carl Bass, CEO, Autodesk.
By making software available for schools and students, Autodesk will be banking on training millions of young people with the skills needed to become familiar with its interface and make use of its tools in enterprise settings once they graduate. In the long run, this could result in workplaces favouring its software for company-wide use, which should benefit the company a great deal more than any licensing fees it's giving up in the short-term.
The strategy is also behind the reason that Apple, Microsoft, and other tech firms offer their own discounts and incentives to students. It is worth noting that students will not be allowed to use Autodesk apps for commercial projects, one of the major restrictions which comes with the free software. However, the deal soundly beats the software discounts offered by Adobe, Autodesk's closest competitor.