Autodesk is to introduce cut-price student editions of its software in the United Kingdom following the success of a similar scheme in the United States. The scheme will be available to students and to individual academics but not to institutions, which must buy normal educational licences.
Autodesk's graphical and three-dimensional design software normally sells at prices up to Pounds 3,200 for the top-end Autocad release 13 package.
Student prices excluding VAT will be approximately Pounds 25 for Autosketch, Pounds 99 for Autocad LT or Animator Pro, and Pounds 250 for Autocad release 12 or 3D Studio version 3. In the second half of this year the company will offer students two bundles of software priced at Pounds 495 and Pounds 1,000 respectively.
The student editions will be distributed only on copy-protected CD-Roms, and purchasers will be asked to sign a legal document which bars them from using the software professionally.
"The actual software itself differs not one jot from the full commercial version," said UK marketing manager Robin Wilson. But students will not always be offered the latest version.
Autodesk has been accused of setting its professional prices too high and creating an incentive for software piracy. "I know of four firms or individuals who are using copies of the same licensed copy of Autocad," said a 40-year old professional designer. "I would love to have a legal copy but I simply cannot afford it."
But Mr Wilson expects that few students will break their licence agreements by continuing to use student edition software when they begin professional work. "We found less than 5 per cent of student editions migrated in this way in the States," he said.