We get a lot of questions about the Desktop Subscription vs. Perpetual License purchase options for Autodesk Software.
Perpetual Licenses are how most high-end software has been acquired until now. There is an initial cost to purchase a license, plus an annual Subscription cost that entitles the owner to all updates and technical support. For example, a Perpetual License of Product Design Suite Premium at October 2014 is $8125ex plus $1220ex per year Subscription ($9345).
Desktop Subscriptions are new to the Autodesk line up and can be thought of as "renting" a Software license year-to-year. With Desktop Subscription, you pay either a quarterly or annual price that includes software, all updates and technical support. A Desktop Subscription of Product Design Suite Premium with Advanced support in October 2014 is $3620ex per year.
One advantage of a Perpetual License is that it costs less over time. Also, if you fail to renew your Perpetual License the software will continue to work. However there is a disadvantage if Subscription is not maintained. You will not receive any new software updates and you will not be able to upgrade to a later release.
An advantage of Desktop Subscription is its lower initial acquisition cost ($3620 for Desktop vs. $9345 for a Perpetual License). However, it does cost more over time and if you fail to renew Desktop Subscription the software will quit working all together (whereas a Perpetual License will keep working).
Based on the pricing above the breakeven point for Desktop Subscription V’s Perpetual license is approximately 5 years. The means you could have Desktop subscription for 5 years giving you the ability to spread your costs over the same period as a Perpetual license purchase.
Our experience is that start-ups and smaller companies (who place a premium on conserving money to maintain strong cash flows) opt for Desktop Subscriptions. It is a great way to get started for a little more than what you would pay just for software maintenance.
Most medium-and-larger companies, who cannot be sure their purchasing department will renew subscription every year, tend to go with Perpetual Licenses. This ensures their Software is never inaccessible because of purchasing logistics or glitches, however can carry a risk if not maintained (Note: there you can renew after expiry within 30 days).
Scalable licensing: Larger companies can purchase Desktop Subscription based on project needs due to the ability to increase and decrease licenses as workflow changes. This is a huge benefit and can usually be costed into projects. Desktop Subscription helps enable easier addition and removal of licenses. You can scale up to manage a variety of temporary project and staffing needs like the addition of consultants and part-time employees.
In summary: Desktop Subscriptions have a lower initial price but cost more over time and stop working if you do not renew. Perpetual Licenses cost more up-front, less over time, and never expire.
Which is best? The decision is entirely up to you. There is no difference in the functionality of the software for the two licensing methods or the support you get from Redstack and Autodesk.