Big news just in. Autodesk has just launched Project Twitch on its labs web-site. This sees an experiment start in delivery of the company’s flagship products, AutoCAD, Maya, Inventor 2010 and Revit 2010 over the web. Not downloaded, not maintained, but hosted online.
At present there’s some pretty hefty restrictions on the use of the services. For example, you need to be running on Windows (XP or Vista), using IE (7+) or Firefox (3.x). You can’t upload, download or save files (the apps are provided with sample files). But perhaps the biggest restriction is that you need to be within 1,000 miles of the data center hosting the applications. As you’ll see from the image below, the data center is in San Francisco, which makes a large proportion of the potential users in terms of reach, either fish or aquaman.
Hosted apps are the future – that’s pretty much certain (look at the rise of google’s various apps) and several CAD vendors have already started to experiment with hosted applications. Dassault have been working towards this with Catia for several year. SolidWorks has been pushing out trials of online drawing apps with BluePrint Now and Drawings Now). But this is perhaps the first time that a truly mainstream set of applications has been delivered in this way. It’s a brave new world people. Strap yourselves in. If anyone is in that demographic (presumably sans scuba gear) and gets this working, let us know how it goes.