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Has PTC brought Mathcad down?


Has PTC brought Mathcad down?

I really don't want to make this sound like a rant, but it probably will. I've been a Mathcad user for years, updating through several versions, and purchased my own as well as a business copy. It has always worked well for me. Since the purchase by PTC, however, I've had to jump through hoops to install it, jump through hoops to get help when I can't install it, and it just seems to get worse and worse.

Case in point:

Version 14 gave me trouble, but it was just eclipsed by when I purchased the 15 upgrade. It took me two days to get a fully-working installation. I received multiple emails, some with attachements, some with attachments, that described how to install it. Then I had to wait two days for another email containing my confirmation of purchase. I could at that point install Matchcad, but I would have to wait some more before receiving the license file by email. I've never had to jump through so many hoops to get a software package working I would have to have my customer number, sales order number, and version license number for the install. The link sent to download the software brought me to a page that told me PTC didn't have my customer number on file with that sales order number. At least in the end it worked, which is more than I can say for version 14.

Then I tried to get the add-in to work, and ran into trouble. Calling customer service required me to push through menu after menu on the phone to get to the Mathcad technical support, where I needed another number - the service contract number. I finally got put on hold, but the first question asked was again, the service contract number. That person helped me get the add-in working for the most part.

The add-in lets me exchange data between Excel and Mathcad, but the 3D plots aren't working. I really don't want to get on the phone again to customer support. I then turned to my officemate and asked if he ever called PTC for customer support, and he laughed and said "Yeah, PTC xxxxx. I wish someone else would buy Mathcad."

What gives? Why all the hoops to jump through for installation and customer support?



Dave: I can sympathize. For three weeks I have been jumping through hoops trying to get answers to some questions answered before I try to upgrade from 14.0 to 15.0 Since you did or are doing the upgrade, you may be able to answer a questions I have been trying to get answered by PTC.

I was running 14.0 and some features stopped working when I changed my operating system to Windows 7. I did an uninstall and tried to reinstall. Big mistake, the reinstall wouldn't run because some files would not copy. Instead of having a running version of MC, albeit without some of the bells and whistles, I now have nothing. Question: do I have to have an operatiing version of 14 on my computer or is the upgrade standalone?

Any help would be appreciated.

Joseph Kuhn wrote:

Question: do I have to have an operatiing version of 14 on my computer or is the upgrade standalone?

Any help would be appreciated.

The upgrade is standalone, but you need your M14 product code during the installation process. Strangely, the product code does not subsequently appear in the About Mathcad section of M15's Help menu (at least, it doesn't on mine)!


When I installed v15, v14 was still there. V15 uninstalled it, but took the product code from the installation and conveniently filled in that information when the time came. It looked like if v14 wasn't there I would have had to type them in myself. My product code for v15 also does not appear in the about box, though there is a place for it.

I don't know much about Windows 7. I had problems installing v14 on Vista but it was a while ago and I forgot what the issues were.

You have to remember that PTC is now an industrial megalith, with its own inertias....

A colleague here has managed our Pro/e usage for a number of years and says that this often happens with acquistions. Acquisitions get sucked in, nothing much appears to happen for a few years, then 'it' re-emerges in a whole new form focussed as an adjunct to its core business.

MathCAD Prime is currently being tested, which in its first form was most definately aimed at "draughtsman" activities, and had missed many of the points that makes MathCAD such a great tool. Some of those issues are being addressed but one still has concerns. Some of the problems are not of PTCs making, such as the need to change its underlying symbolic engine (which has a greater reach than just directly entered symbolic calculations (->), the original Mathsoft patents include its use for tracking the updated state of the equations being edited and knowing which to update).

MathCAD is currently lacking a suitable visionary that can see where it can go as a proper power tool for [proper / advanced] engineering mathematics. If they focus on arithmetic and prettyness too much they will throw out the baby rather than the bath-water.

The area that mathcad lacks is a good way to carry forward "time" as a process variable whereby one can simulate (with overwrite) activities in systems, or process data live. MathCAD lacks the ability to "forget" old data in a controlled, easily appreciable manner.

For me, It also needs to keep ahead in the units area (I use radians every day, and need to track misapplication of its [lack of] units).



I'm not going to get into the technical aspects of that question. It's very tempting, because to date PTC's technical contribution to the product has not been exactly stellar. However, there has recently been considerable progress at PTC in that respect (due to both outside influences and the influence of certain PTC employees who should get medals for perseverance!), so there is some light at the end of the tunnel.

I do feel the need to scream about the licensing though. Since PTC took over, the licensing experience for Mathcad has become the worst of any software product I have ever purchased, from any company. And it has gone from bad to worse. The way single users were treated in terms of maintenance releases was horrible. They have now "fixed" that by forcing everyone to buy maintenance for at least the first year, regardless of whether you believe that you will actually get any maintenance releases in that period (I have my doubts). I don't need their technical support, so if I don't get at least one maintenance release for my money then as far as I am concerned it's just a "PTC maintenance tax".

I have never had to sign as many documents (or any documents, in fact) as I had to get the upgrade from 14 to 15. If it wasn't for the fact that Mathcad is a tool that I have used for so long I rely on it I would have just dropped the documents in the bin and gone elsewhere. Then when I did install the upgrade the licensing wouldn't work anyway! I had to send an e-mail to the PTC licensing goons and wait around twiddling my proverbial thumbs until someone there decided that I wasn't some sort of criminal, and sent me a key that actually worked.

The licensing experience for Mathcad is now onerous, draconian, slow, and obviously doesn't even work properly a lot of the time (based on posts to these forums I am certainly not alone in having it not work correctly!). So, in fact, I would go so far as to say, without any exaggeration, that PTC's licensing for Mathcad is at least one order of magnitude worse than that for any other software product I have ever purchased, from any company! It sucks.


quote"...I do feel the need to scream about the licensing though. Since PTC took over, the licensing experience for Mathcad has become the worst of any software product I have ever purchased, from any company...." unquote

I second that !


I'll second that as well. For all the deserved and undeserved criticisms that Microsoft might get for their software, their software NEVER have has problems with:

> licensing; you put in your product code and BANG, you're DONE.

> crapping in its shorts and constantly requiring re-installations

> installing updates; the biggest problem with MS updates is there's so many of them that finding the one you need is sometimes tricky

> fixing and propagating bug fixes



Add this to my list of gripes:

The licensing is set up in such a way that it may not even work correctly all of the time!

Hi Folks,

First I just want to thank you for your comments and input regarding the licensing and install issues. We've been listening and are doing our best to fix the issues.

Included below is the notice going out to our Mathcad customers but I wanted you to be the first to see it. Feel free to provide feedback:

Customers using the Mathcad product are central to the success of the Mathcad Business – period. We know our customers are some of the most passionate people out in the market, and the important feedback you provide helps shape the future of our product.

We know customers have been experiencing some challenges with installing the software and acquiring a license with the release of Mathcad 15.0 – and we’ve been listening. The Mathcad team has spent time reviewing the process, and we have identified a few areas causing the issues. Here are the fixes we’re working hard to implement and solve the problems:

  1. Simplified instructions and clarification on what information is required to enter into the Wizard during the install process
  2. Better, clearer error messaging
  3. Overall a better workflow for the user

We also want to put a stop to all the back-and-forth transfers within PTC that customers have experienced when trying to resolve their issues. So we're looking into adding a Mathcad Customer Advocate whose purpose will be helping our customers, by acting as the ONE POINT of contact to resolve issues and improve the overall user experience. In the meantime, please continue to send us your feedback by email at -.

Our customers are our greatest asset, so we will do everything possible to provide the high quality experience you expect. We also remain committed to delivering the best engineering calculation software in the market.

Thank You


Just thought that I should mention that I have requested many of these wider licencing problems be resolved via the PTC enhancement request process. Have you looked at the Enhancement request database? I get the impression that no one looks at it within PTC...

My issues with the licencing is from a corporate view as I manage over 450 user, with over a 100 active each month. I've extracted the requests below.

  • E6376492

The web licenceing of home use licences should allow a termination date, shorter than the end of the maintenance period. The enhancement is to the web support service not the product. (submitted sept 2008, but still an ongoing problem)

  • E5706067


  • E5706045

MAKE THE FLEXPLM ptc_d DEMON WORK ON WINDOWS 2003 SERVER !! This makes PTC look incompetent. (submitted 2007)

  • E5691053

Restore the allowed borrow period. As a minimum this should be 60 days. It was 2 years under MathSoft. (submitted 2007, but still an ongoing problem)

The Borrow and Home use issues are still very current for me as they cause real admin hassles.

The licence server limitations were overcome but at real expense and delay (we had to buy 4 new PCs specially for the task via the endless internal procurement and approvals process).

For fun, have a read of and the second video


Hi Phillip,

Thanks for the link. That was a well written blog post.

While some products might suffer particularly from issues related "RFP only" driven design decisions, which this article discusses, I believe that Mathcad is a bit different since our sales process is not only driven by RFP's and the like, but also by a large community of single user consumers. Because of this we try to do our best to satisfy both markets (Enterprise and Consumer) as best we can when making design and roadmap decisions.

This article touches on some interesting design ideas and models that are becoming more and more prevalent throughout the software industry. Actually the Mathcad Team has been taking some time, as of late, to really research and understand some of these new models to see how we can leverage them to make Mathcad Prime a better product for our users. I'm hopeful that some of the results of this work will come to fruition in the near term but right now it is too early to see how they will fit into the Mathcad Prime roadmap.

Anyway, I wanted to let you (and the community) know that we have no intention of sticking our heads in the sand and simply maintaining status quo for Mathcad Prime. Keep an eye out for new and exciting things throughout the Mathcad Prime release cycle, and as always thanks for your feedback!

-Dave B

>Anyway, I wanted to let you (and the community) know that we have no intention of sticking our heads in the sand and simply maintaining status quo for Mathcad Prime. Keep an eye out for new and exciting things throughout the Mathcad Prime release cycle, and as always thanks for your feedback!

-Dave B



Have you ever thought of issuing a "deluxe" Mathcad version equipped with Maple as per $ it will worth ... +++ including the 11 coding. That would make single users consultants happy as well as their clients.


I have been a user of mathcad since its DOS days ( probably at least 20 years ago). I am using it every day at work, and basically bought every single release upgrade ever since ( except that I stopped at 14 ...)

I have noticed , as many others noticed that the process of upgrading as become worse and worse lately to the point where I I am holding to my Mathcad 14 ( and I didn't even try to update with some of the latest mathcad 14 maintenance releases). At this point I don't intend to get Mathcad 15, one of the main reason being that PTC seemed to haved dropped any interest into supporting the single users and want everybody to switch to the enterprise-type users ( with its nightmarish installation issues, higher costs, and maintenance yearly fees that a single users doesn't need and doesn't want ).

Through the years , I always felt that Mathcad was one of the best software I had, and one of the most enjoyable to work with. I am a big fan of Mathcad, but I have the feeling that PTC is making Mathcad more and more a niche-type software for the CAD users, and that Mathcad might unfortunately go away from being the general Math software that it once was...

I didn't see the advantage of upgrading to Mathcad 15, as none of the new features seemed compelling to me, and was waiting to see what Mathcad Prime would be, but I just read that Mathcad Prime, wouldn't even have all the eatures we are used to with the earlier versions... What ?!

Certainly not a piece of software I intend to buy then...

PTC seems to have decided to finally give up on Mathcad most fervent supporters ( the early users, the single users ). A pity !


We are not abandoning single users by our new policy, but including them. When you upgrade or purchase Mathcad 15, the price includes one year of maintenance. That enables you to technical support and any upgrade, which PTC calls maintenance releases, that releases during the year.

We've also set up a person to handle installation and licensing issues for enterprise and single users, so they can be resolved quickly. You can reach him at -.