Historically, computer-aided design (CAD) software programs have always been at the top end of the pricing spectrum. So much so that a majority are priced at rates way above other industries’ applications, e.g., Adobe Creative Cloud or the Microsoft Office Suite. Importantly, the cost and pricing model of CAD software arises from a combination of factors, including the value users draw from the applications, which in turn influences what they are willing to pay, the development costs, and more. So, how does Bentley MicroStation pricing stack up against other CAD programs?
At Scan2CAD, we regularly update our readers on the pricing of various CAD applications. In this guide, we explore Bentley MicroStation, specifically Bentley MicroStation pricing. As such, by reading through this article as well as other guides in our CAD software pricing series, you can establish how MicroStation stacks up against other programs.
Firstly, though, let’s discuss Bentley MicroStation and its developer, Bentley Systems Inc.
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About Bentley Systems
Not to be confused with Bentley Motors Limited, a British manufacturer and marketer of luxury SUVs and cars, Bentley Systems, Inc. is a Pennsylvania-headquartered infrastructure engineering software company listed on the Nasdaq Stock Market.
Founded in 1984, the American-based company has grown over the years. Currently, it boasts a presence in 172 countries, where it has set up sales, development, and a bevy of other departments, employing over 4,000 people.
Bentley Systems offers infrastructure-oriented software intended to satisfy the global economy as well as the environment. It’s software solutions and trademarked brands include ProjectWise, Seequent, iTwin, AssetWise, CUBE, MicroStation, and dozens more. They are used by organizations of different sizes, both public and private, operating in multiple industries.
For instance, the software programs are used in the design, construction, and operations of structures within various segments, such as transportation (roads, bridges, rail), water and wastewater, mining, buildings, and industrial facilities. While the solutions indeed offer many benefits and are used by thousands, as evidenced by Bentley Systems’ 2020 revenues of about $801 million, this article will focus on only one of the company’s offerings.
According to the 2020 annual report, Bentley Systems generates its revenue from subscriptions, perpetual licenses, and services, a model that is evident when you look at Bentley MicroStation pricing.
However, before exploring how much Bentley MicroStation costs, let’s understand what the software is all about, including its capabilities and history.
About Bentley MicroStation
Bentley Systems describes MicroStation as its modeling and simulation application that leverages various reusable components for visualization, solid (3D) modeling, editing, and modification of graphics, among other capabilities. In addition, MicroStation supports flexible documentation, collaboration, modeling/assembly sequences, annotation, and more.
It is no wonder that Bentley Systems markets MicroStation as “the CAD leader for infrastructure design.” A more detailed look at the available tools and capabilities point to the reasoning behind this marketing tagline. But we will handle that a bit later. First, let’s understand MicroStation from a historical point of view.
Bentley MicroStation was first released in 1986. At the time, it was a design file (DGN, MicroStation’s default file format) reader and editor. It could also plot DGN files. The second edition, released in 1987, introduced read and write capabilities.
In the 1990’s Bentley Systems introduced additional capabilities and features. As a result, MicroStation offered 2D and 3D CAD tools, colored icons, dialogs that could be docked, the ability to assign names to levels, a DWG translator, settings manager, binary raster support, movie generation, Accudraw, and more. The new features made the software an interactive CAD program.
The turn of the century saw the development and subsequent introduction of the eighth version of MicroStation (V8) in 2001. Along with the new edition, which introduced numerous improvements to the software, Bentley released V8 DGN, an IEEE-754-based 64-bit file format.
Over the years, Bentley Systems has released newer versions. Currently, the software is at V10, also known as the MicroStation CONNECT Edition, with the latest release being the 16th edition, which was dropped in June 2021. Therefore, if you were to buy and install the current version, the build number would read 10.16.00.80. The first two figures represent the version and edition, respectively.
Supported Operating Systems
The latest version of Bentley MicroStation is currently only available on Microsoft Windows, continuing a tradition that began in the 1990s. MicroStation V4, released in the early 1990s, ran on Windows. In the past, some Macintosh and Unix-based operating systems also supported the software.
Bentley MicroStation Packages
The MicroStation CONNECT Edition (V10), released on September 1, 2015, was the first version of the software connected to Bentley Systems’ cloud services. As a result, it offered improved connected workflows and personalized experiences. With the release came enhanced capabilities such as an intuitive and modern ribbon-based interface.
It also included search functionality and combined all file operations and settings in a single location. For example, to get to the settings, simply click File Tab > Settings > User. Similarly, to get to the file operations section/window, simply click File Tab > Settings > File.
Notably, Bentley MicroStation CONNECT Edition offers the following technical capabilities:
- The ability to create precise 2D drawings and 3D models for infrastructure projects
- Interoperability with different file formats/drawings created using other CAD programs
- Collaboration that promotes effective and flexible Building Information Modeling (BIM) workflows
- Ability to automate drawing sheets, multi-discipline documentation sets
- Visualizations; for example, you can apply real-time display modes to visualize models based on attributes such as aspect angle, height, slope, and other embedded properties
- Report generation
- Support for different display styles and modes, including illustration, transparent, and more
- Analysis, e.g., real-word solar exposure and shading
- Enforcing project standards through standards-checking tools
- Ability to work on designs and projects of any size
- MicroStation can produce realistic, lifelike animations and simulations from models
- It offers access to online libraries of physically correct materials, lighting, and photorealistic content
- Ability to integrate raster images, point cloud data, and 3D reality meshes, thus easing the understanding of existing conditions
- It can integrate various data types, including documents, drawings, and models from other industries and disciplines
The MicroStation CONNECT Edition is available in four packages:
- MicroStation VIRTUOSO
- MicroStation SELECT
- MicroStation Enterprise 365
- MicroStation Learning License
MicroStation VIRTUOSO is a 12-month license offered by Virtuosity, a Bentley Systems’ company that doubles as the exclusive global provider of VIRTUOSO subscriptions for its parent company’s software. MicroStation VIRTUOSO is ideal for small and medium companies looking for flexible, short-term licensing that expires in a year.
In addition, along with all the technical capabilities packed into Bentley MicroStation, VIRTUOSO subscribers can enjoy tailored training or support services of their choice by redeeming keys. It is noteworthy that every VIRTUOSO license comes with three redeemable keys/credits. The keys do not represent the number of licenses.
The MicroStation VIRTUOSO license goes for an annual price of $1,955 (Bentley MicroStation pricing correct as of January 2022).
Bentley Systems’ SELECT package covers both perpetual and annual subscription-based licenses. According to the company, this package works best for businesses that want to share owned licenses among colleagues. In this regard, it supports license pooling.
Other benefits include free software updates, 24/7/365 technical support, and annual portfolio balancing. Notably, users can exchange perpetual licenses once a year for other Bentley Systems software offerings through portfolio balancing. Thus, this package offers open access to the company’s entire portfolio.
The Bentley MicroStation pricing for the SELECT package is $6,386.00 for the perpetual license and $1,208 for the annual subscription-based model. The Bentley MicroStation pricing is correct as of January 2022.
MicroStation Enterprise 365
Ideal for large, global companies, the MicroStation Enterprise 365 package offers a myriad of benefits. These include unfettered access to Bentley System’s entire portfolio of applications as well as portfolio balancing that allows users to exchange at any time perpetual licenses for other titles, software updates, 24/7/365 technical support, and global licensing pooling.
Additionally, the Enterprise 365 license subscription offers entitlement to CONNECT services, a cloud-based service for personal mobility, adaptive learning, and project collaboration.
Unfortunately, we do not have the exact/accurate Bentley MicroStation pricing for the Enterprise 365 package. However, based on a bid submitted by a state department of information technology services in the United States for a Bentley Enterprise 365 Public Sector subscription, the price runs into the hundreds of thousands (dollars) annually. To get the pricing and licensing information, contact Bentley Systems.
MicroStation Learning License
Through its education portal – Bentley Education Program – Bentley Systems enables students and educators to register directly to access its software applications. According to the company, the portal is aimed at helping students gain enough knowledge of its software to add to their resumes. In addition to free access to Bentley Systems’ applications, the portal also offers training modules based on real projects.
The MicroStation Learning License is free for eligible users who log into the portal using their institutional email addresses.
MicroStation Free Trial
You can trial Bentley MicroStation for free for 14 days. To begin your free trial, simply fill in the requisite details on the form. Note that you must have at least 2 gigabytes of free space on your hard disk before installing the software.
In summary, the Bentley MicroStation pricing for the various packages is as follows:
Bentley MicroStation VIRTUOSO
Bentley MicroStation SELECT
$6,386 for the perpetual license
$1,208 for an annual subscription
Bentley MicroStation Enterprise 365
For accurate Bentley MicroStation pricing information, contact Bentley Systems
Bentley MicroStation Learning License
Free for eligible users (students and educators)
Marketed as the leading CAD software for infrastructure, Bentley MicroStation is available through various pricing models. Small and medium companies can use the VIRTUOSO package, which is ideal for businesses that need to use the software for a limited time. The SELECT package is available for companies that wish to share owned licenses among colleagues. Users can choose between a perpetual license or a subscription-based model.
The Enterprise 365 package offers users unlimited access to Bentley Systems’ portfolio of applications. While it is the most expensive of the company’s offerings, it has the most benefits. Students and educators can, however, use the MicroStation Learning License, which entitles them to free access to any software under the Bentley Systems umbrella. Indeed, the Bentley MicroStation pricing varies from one package to another.