The end is near, at least for Softimage XSI.
In a virtual press conference March 4, Autodesk revealed that Softimage 2015, which will be released soon, will be the last version of the software that the company will produce. Moreover, it will support the product for two years and no more.
Autodesk plans to help Softimage users with Subscription plans transition to one of its other content creation offerings, 3ds Max or Maya, for no additional cost by offering a special bundle of Softimage with either Max or Maya so users can become comfortable with the new software with minimum disruption to their workflow. Of course, users do not have to take this offer and can continue to use Softimage knowing no further updates will be coming, nor will there be support in two years.
According to Maurice Patel, industry manager for Autodesk's Media and Entertainment business, the decision to phase-out Softimage was made so that the company could focus on fewer products and invest more R&D in 3ds Max and Maya, two products that were once rivals to Softimage XSI.
3ds Max underwent slight name changes (such as 3D Studio and 3D Studio Max), while under the Discreet banner. In 1999, Autodesk acquired Discreet Logic and its products, including 3ds Max. Maya, originally developed by Alias, was purchased by Autodesk in 2005, much to the surprise of many in the industry. In 2005, Autodesk renamed its business unit Autodesk Media and Entertainment, differentiating these new tools from its bread-and-butter CAD and manufacturing products. In 2008, Autodesk purchased Softimage from Avid Technology.
Autodesk has been developing 3ds Max alongside Maya, much to the relief of customers loyal to one or the other. Some technology of Softimage has been integrated into the products over the years. But, Softimage has also been able to retain its unique identity. Softimage is also offered in one of the Autodesk Entertainment Creation Suite options.