Two years ago, at SolidWorks World (the show) SolidWorks (the company) showed what appeared to be the next generation of SolidWorks (the software): SolidWorks V6 (also software.)
SolidWorks (the company) got major flak from bloggers concerned that SolidWorks V6 (the software) would replace SolidWorks (the software.)
This year, at SolidWorks World (the show), Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks (as the company is now known) didn’t talk much about SolidWorks V6 (the product), other than to say that they’d talk about it in 2013.
Now that we’ve got that all clear, let’s talk about what matters: SolidWorks V6 is confusing branding. It confuses not only users, but even pundits who write about CAD software.
My understanding, after talking to company representatives at SolidWorks World, is that SolidWorks V6 is the name for not just one product, but a future series of products. Those products may incorporate some existing SolidWorks technology, but they’ll be based largely upon CATIA and ENOVIA V6 technology. Because they’ll use the CGM modeling kernel (which was originally written for CATIA V5), they’ll likely be more compatible with CATIA than with today’s SolidWorks.
It makes sense that Dassault Systèmes would want to leverage the strength of the SolidWorks brand for this upcoming series of products. The SolidWorks brand is one of the strongest in the MCAD world. If SolidWorks V6 were actually based on, and entirely compatible with, SolidWorks—the name might fit. But it’s not, and it doesn’t.
The SolidWorks V6 name creates unnecessary fear, uncertainty, and doubt among SolidWorks users who are concerned that they’ll be forced to transition from a CAD program they know and (sometimes) love to this new technology, whether they want to or not.
What’s particularly unfortunate is that, if Dassault Systèmes had originally used a code name for the technology instead of calling it SolidWorks V6, they never would have created this whirlwind of FUD among their users. People might have seen it as just what it is: A really interesting future product, that they might want to add to their portfolio of CAD tools some day (when it’s ready.)
The bottom line is that the new technology called SolidWorks V6 isn’t SolidWorks, and won’t replace SolidWorks. According to Fielder Hiss, SolidWorks VP of Product Management, the development team working on SolidWorks 2013 is even larger than the teams that worked on previous versions.
The real SolidWorks—the CAD program now used by about 1.7 million people—is going to be around for a long time.