Autodesk Inc.’s new software saviour will emerge next month, the company has announced, along with a new partner program.

The company says the next versions of its AutoCAD and Autodesk portfolio of products, code-named ‘Neo,’ will ship to resellers in March.

Allan

Steel, general manager of Autodesk Canada, says the company will also add a new partner program, called Premier Solutions Partner, beginning next month. The program won’t replace existing ones, but resellers will need to apply for it in order to qualify for this level of partnership.

Premier solution partners will help the company meet the needs of its specialized customer base by developing skilled and experienced resellers, he said.

“The key thing that Autodesk has always done and continues to do is look for resellers who add true value to our customers in the marketplace,” said Steel.

AutoCAD 2005 is equipped with several new features including the sheet set manager that lets users automate sheet numbering and the insertion of a title block with current project information.

“Customers are looking for things that behave the way their disciplines behave. Those are pre-built inside our portfolio of products,” said Steel.

Other features include a table command that allows users to create tables by importing or exporting data from Microsoft Excel and Autodesk Design Web Format (DWF) Composer, a collaboration tool that allows users to review and mark-up drawings.

Available with the AutoCAD 2005 are 11 enhanced design application releases for the building, infrastructure and manufacturing markets including Autodesk Architectural Desktop 2005 and Autodesk Land Desktop 2005. In the manufacturing industry, AutoCAD 2005 will serve as the foundation for future versions of AutoCAD Mechanical, AutoCAD Electrical and Autodesk MapGuide software applications.

Because of number of applications of the software, there’s no set price, the company said. But a Toronto Autodesk reseller said that customers who pay an annual subscription fee versus those who buy the upgrade are saving money. Customers who subscribe to the Autodesk Subscription Program receive the latest versions of licensed Autodesk software and can also access consulting and training services.

“It’s becoming more and more worthwhile for customers to be on an annual subscription plan. It’s less expensive than upgrading as the releases come up every year,” said Brad Porter, general manager of CAD MicroSolutions Inc., adding that it’s easier for an IT manager to have software costs in an operational budget versus a capital expenditure.

CAD MicroSolutions has been an Autodesk authorized partner since it opened its doors in 1984.

Porter says it’s a great release.

“Autodesk is working hard to move away from just being viewed as a one-product company. It’s actually been a while since they’ve not been a one-product company. (Autodesk’s) civil engineering software is in our wheelhouse,” he said, noting the Ontario Ministry of Transportation is one of the company’s largest customers in that industry.

The civil engineering sector makes up over one-third of CAD MicroSolution’s software sales in Canada, a growing trend in recent years, said Porter.

“Twenty years ago when we first started, we sold AutoCAD to anybody and everybody. Now it’s a totally different marketplace. Many of the people who use AutoCAD are using it inside of a product like Land Desktop.

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