Softimage to be discontinued


Softimage final release announcement

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“We regret to inform you that the upcoming 2015 release will be the last one for Softimage® software. This final version is expected to ship on or around April 14, 2014. Autodesk will continue to offer product support until April 30, 2016. We will also provide Softimage support services (including Hot Fixes and Service Packs) to all Softimage customers with Autodesk Subscription, at no cost, until April 30, 2016.

We understand that you will now need time to re-evaluate your production capabilities. To help you, we are offering Autodesk Softimage Subscription customers special no-cost options to migrate to either Maya or 3ds Max software while continuing to use Softimage in production. These options will be available until February 1, 2016. Upgrade paths are also available for customers who are not on Subscription.

Although this decision is a difficult one, we do believe that by focusing our development efforts, we can better serve the needs of the media and entertainment industry and provide customers with better products, faster. Autodesk wants to continue its relationship with you into the future. We regret any inconvenience that this may cause; however, we believe that you will find our new transition product offerings very attractive.”

Speaking at a press conference, Autodesk industry manager Maurice Patel described the discontinuation of the software to focus development resources on Maya and 3ds Max as a “tough decision”.

“The industry has been going through some challenging times. To address this we needed to focus our energy on [two products],” he said. “The cost of continuing Softimage and keeping it up to par [was prohibitive]. It has long been the case that we’ve not been able to do that.”

Softimage users on maintenance contracts will be offered either 3ds Max or Maya cost-free for the next two years, until Softimage support, hotfixes and service packs are withdrawn in April 2016.

After that, switching to Max or Maya will be the only way to continue to receive support.

Softimage users will be able to continue to use the software indefinitely after support is discontinued in 2016, the company has announced.

Previously, subscription customers were to be offered migration packages to 3ds Max or Maya that included a licence of Softimage alongside the new product for two years, after which access to Softimage would be ended.

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Putting the strengths of Softimage in other software
The Softimage development team has been moved on to other projects, including Bifrost, the fluid simulation technology formerly known as Naiad that Autodesk acquired from Exotic Matter in 2012.

In addition, some of the developers have been specifically tasked with “making the transition [to 3ds Max or Maya] easier” for Softimage users.

Patel noted that users could expect to see changes in other products to incorporate “the best of the strengths of Softimage”, but warned that anyone expecting Softimage Mk. II would be disappointed.

“Ultimately, we’re not going to recreate Softimage in Maya or Max, because it won’t be efficient,” he said. “Maya users are comfortable with their existing ways of working.”

Asked whether Softimage’s ICE visual programming system – often regarded as one of the key strengths of the software – would be integrated into 3ds Max or Maya, Patel commented that “the [design] concepts behind ICE will continue to live on, but we will not build ICE again within those products”.

Entertainment product suites reshuffled
The discontinuation of Softimage will also mean a reshuffle of Autodesk’s Entertainment Creation Suites, with the $6,825 Premium suite – the Standard suite plus Softimage – being withdrawn, and the top-of-the-range Ultimate suite being cut in price from $8,395 to $6,825 to take its place.

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Changed in response to user feedback
According to a statement posted by Autodesk industry manager Maurice Patel on the AREA forum: “We have been monitoring all of your feedback on the forums, including many direct conversations with our customers, and have made adjustments to the transition offering to address your concerns … Based on your feedback we will be adding the ability to continue to access Softimage indefinitely with your Subscription entitlement even after we stop support on Softimage in April 2016.”

The statement also confirms that old licences of Softimage will remain valid if users choose not to take up either of the migration packages, or if they are not on a current subscription contract:

“If you do not want to transition, your licenses will not stop working. Any licenses you have purchased are yours. … You will continue to be able to contact support if you need to move a license to a new machine.”