As with probably any decision that’s ever been made in history, there are various ways of looking at this, and each with some merit. I know I went ahead and “liked” @Caroline 's post as soon as I saw it, as did others, while some of you obviously had a very different reaction (no doubt many wished for a dislike button ).
To say that SketchUp is “doomed to fail,” that Trimble “shot itself in the foot,” and that it is the “most stupid business decision” – to say all this now is very premature, and to me quite doubtful. Yes, every company has the potential to make mistakes, grave mistakes, but we all know the folks over at Trimble are not preschoolers. I’m confident that they did their research, argued the point in conference rooms, and ultimately made the decision that they felt would benefit the company and the software most. Did they have the users’ well-being in mind? We hope so; many of you obviously don’t think so, but considering it honestly, you must admit that although they’re supposed to be providing 3D for Everyone, if they don’t make the decisions that are most financially smart, pretty soon it would be 3D for No one.
I will say that I’m sure that the side of the license fence that each person is on will affect his perspective of the situation. As someone who doesn’t have any option but to be a Pro user (if I wish to be legal and ethical), my first reaction was understandably opposite to the reaction of those on the Make side. As Pro users, we see an updated SketchUp to download and discover, and if we notice the Make vs Free decision at all, it’s easy to just give a passing evaluation, see the possibility of more attention given to Pro, which sounds good, see some of the licensing and use confusion cleared up, which sounds good, so we say “so be it” and move on – I say it’s easy to do that, not that we all do.
Some of us remember the countless hours that we passed in intuitive fun, modeling our bedrooms, designing our future mansion, that first time we tried to draw an airplane and realized there was more to it than we imagined. In fact, I can attribute my career directly to the hours “wasted” on playing with SketchUp, a SketchUp that I could never have afforded to buy a license for. It would be a real pity if that opportunity is gone. So the question: is it?
There’s no question that SketchUp Free is more primitive than Make. In the last hours we’ve seen the complaints start on the forum, and I expect there will be plenty more. The lack of extensions is understandably upsetting. The annoying need to be online to use SketchUp Free is an important concern. As far as Make 2017 still being available, sure, that’s great, but you gotta realize that it doesn’t take more than about two years for software to start getting crippled, in these days of constant OS, hardware, software, and security updates. I just upgraded my Pro license to 2017 a few days ago, and you’d be surprised how many things started becoming a pain to accomplish in 2015.
So in all this tangled up mess of sentences, what I’m trying to say is that, yes, it’s sort of too bad that the days of free SketchUp software are over, but I don’t believe Trimble are a bunch of near-sighted dimwits for doing it. I’m sure they have their reasons, and I suspect that in the two years or so that it will take Make 2017 to become obsolete, they are planning to add a lot of the missing features to SketchUp Free. So if you’re a hobbyist, don’t panic yet. Try Free, use Make for what Free can’t do, and see what the next couple of years bring. Or you could do what Trimble is hoping you’ll do – buy that Pro license! Believe me, there are more expensive hobbies out there!