Given that we acquire this product, how do we fit it into our existing product line, and what problems does it solve for us? First of all, the modeler would exist as a separate product, working as a pre-processor to AutoCAD (more accurately, AutoCAD would be a post-processor to it). It is intended for the mechanical engineering/manufacturing market. Parts can be designed, analyzed and realistically visualized using this package, then sent to AutoCAD (as either a fully 3D model for future 3D, or as a 2D ``drawing'' file) for detailing. The model can also be interfaced to FEA programs by using the optional automatic mesh generator. Eventually (they currently have this stuff under development), NC toolpath verification and simulation can be done on the model, and surface modeling (for things like car bodies and thin shells) can be done on the modeling side. AutoCAD is used only for detailing, in both 2D and 3D.
Also, AutoCAD 3D is used for virtually all AEC applications. Facilities management, piping, architecture, etc, are all done using the wire frame modeling in AutoCAD. We do not invest in adding surface modeling capabilities to AutoCAD, nor do we make our funny little solid primitives into a fully general solids system. AutoShade is still the AutoCAD rendering package, and is used by people who don't want to do mechanical solids applications. If you are an architect, you buy AutoCAD (and AutoCAD AEC stuff). If you are a discrete manufacturer (you make parts), you buy SolidWorks (or whatever we want to call it) and its add-ons, along with AutoCAD for detailing. Perhaps we could even use AutoCAD as a front end to the solids package: we can create our funny little solids, rotate them, scale them, position them, then pass them on to SolidWorks for Booleans and analysis.
Eventually, the two products converge into one. They share a common user interface and a common database.
With this combination--the industry standard drafting software, the world's most powerful solids modeling software--all sold by the world's lowest cost CAD distribution network, people like Aries don't stand a chance. They will be forced out of the market. Computervision will shake in their already soggy boots. Intergraph will die a slow, horrible death, buried in caskets made of Interpro 32C boxes. Autodesk will prevail as the dominant force in CAD/CAM worldwide.
Editor: John Walker