SolidWorks 2014 Beta 1 Now Available!

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SolidWorks today announced the release of their latest Beta version, SolidWorks 2014 Beta 1.

The new software can be downloaded through www.solidworks.com/beta or the Customer Portal. As in years past, issues can be logged through the Beta site, under the support tab, or through the Beta section of the Customer Portal, under My SRs. The quality of this product is in the hands of the beta testers, so please take the time to submit any issues you find to the Technical Support team, and you may find yourself on the leaderboard, walking away with some of the great prizes awarded to the most active beta testers.

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I’m installing the Beta at this very moment, and although I’ve already had an incompatibility issue with SolidWorks Electrical – which now seems to share an installer with core SolidWorks – the installation itself seems to use the same smooth functional workflow as the past few years. When the installation is complete I’ll be able to add more commentary.

More more information on what to expect in the new version of SolidWorks, check out my previous articles, and the SolidWorks 2014 What’s New Document, available on the Beta forums or as part of the Beta download package..

Happy Beta-ing!

Upgrading SolidWorks – How, When, and Why?

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SolidWorks 2013 came out about 9 months ago. The 2013 Beta period began about 3 months before that. And well before that, in February of 2012, we were given our first sneak peek into the new features of SolidWorks 2013. Why is it then, that my company – and countless others – are waiting until mid way through the year to even consider upgrading?

The new features are inarguably useful, and would likely increase any user’s productivity. So what are the Powers That BE afraid of? What is it about a new Version of software that keeps them up at night?

The upgrade process seems to be different for every company. Some have an internal testing process, while others trust SolidWorks and their tireless Beta testers to deliver a quality product. Some companies wait until later Service Packs due to fears of instability in early releases, while some jump at the chance to be early adopters.

My question to you all is, what’s your preference? Will any internal testing plan find bugs that months of Beta testing missed? (Our internal test involved 6 people making a few very simple parts. It didn’t involve any new functionality, or large assembly demands. I’ve come to the conclusion that this was to appease those risk management-minded individuals who don’t actually know how software validation works in general, never mind CAD software specifically.)

Do later Service Packs actually behave noticeably better than early ones, or it that just a myth? Is there any real benefit to waiting. Have any of you out there actually encountered a problem in an early Service Pack that would have been resolved in a later update? And if so, would participating in the Beta program have resulted in catching and fixing that bug? How can we make cool new functionality outweigh the apprehension of the scary unknown?

Bottom line: When is the best time to upgrade and why? And how can your fellow SolidWorks users convince their admins to upgrade at that ideal time?