SOLIDWORKS normally is installed directly on user computer and is locked in the hard drive of the system which is only intended to work with the user that registered with the system. There are 2 types of licensing that supports the software to work which are Term License and Perpetual License

In the last 4 years, the French based CAD software company introduced 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS where it connected desktop users on a single platform in the cloud-based environment. Unlike the desktop version, 3DEXPERIENCE utilises Named User License and can be logged in to multiple locations to access and work on same design.

Until today, the platform is used by project engineers and business professionals to design and collaborate effectively as the program is able to operate using web-based system to collaborate on same project on top of the local SOLIDWORKS installed. This comprehensive version of the 3D CAD software is also usually known as SOLIDWORKS Connected.


SOLIDWORKS Desktop and SOLIDWORKS Connected: The Key Differences

We compare the features collectively in shorter summary to allow you to see from bigger perspective. The key differences between SOLIDWORKS Desktop and 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS can be summarized as follows:


SOLIDWORKS Desktop is installed and run on a local computer, while 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS allowed user to access the software via the 3DEXPERIENCE platform for collaboration and storage.


SOLIDWORKS Desktop lacks real-time collaboration features, while 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS provides a collaborative environment for design and engineering teams to work together simultaneously.


SOLIDWORKS Desktop requires a specific machine installation and can be used offline, while 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS allows users to access their projects and data from any device with an internet connection.

Additional Features

3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS offers additional applications and services, such as collaborative design tools, virtual reality capabilities, and advanced simulation options, which are not available in SOLIDWORKS Desktop.


Deep Insights: SOLIDWORKS Desktop vs SOLIDWORKS Connected

Now let’s further analyse this by comparing the selected features directly. This segment should provide a clear review of the benefits of one option compared to another.


As we all known, SOLIDWORKS desktop features standalone licenses and can only be installed on single device until you decide to uninstall and register on new device. The license that user purchased with are tied to the PC that he chooses to install the software. The licensing however depends on the license management. The standalone license is only tied to a single PC as mentioned few times in this article but if the license is installed in the server, it is accessible by the whole team using the same dedicated server.

On the other hand, the Named User license that comes with 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS subscription is also installed directly on your system but only accessible via the 3DEXPERIENCE platform. The license is interchangeable and users that have the login credentials can collaborate within the same project in multiple work locations.

Interface and Core Functions

In general, it has similar functionality as the SOLIDWORKS desktop, but may provide different experience. The 3DEXPERIENCE platform use browser-based CAD which runs everything in the platform. The look and feel of the user main dashboard might differ according to your roles in the platform.

Solidworks Desktop interfaceSolidworks Connected Interface






SOLIDWORKS Connected (right) looks
a little bit different when comparing side to side with SOLIDWORKS Desktop (left). The SOLIDWORKS Connected have the 3DEXPERIENCE tab panel to access the 3DEXPERIENCE platform tools

For example, if you subscribe to 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS Standard package, you will only have access to the 3D Creator role on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform. However, with the 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS Professional and Premium package, users will have access to the 3D Sculptor role, and 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS Simulation Designer which offers advanced features for quickly and easily creating highly stylized, organically shaped, and ergonomically designed products.

solidworks package roles comparison table

The 3DX SWX STN (3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS Standard) package only have SOLIDWORKS Standard bundled with 3DEXPERIENCE + 3D Creator role while the advanced packages; 3DX SWX PRO (3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS Professional) and 3DX SWX PREM (3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS Premium) both have more roles to their subscription.

Files Management

The local version of the software is stored directly in the PC of the user, this is quite straightforward. When you decide to switch to the platform, the files might not be accessible and recognised as cache file. To resolve this, user might need to work and saved on the platform first. The file will be accessible on both locations since the file data is stored in the platform. But beware on broken links from moving and replicating the files locally on your machine as you might corrupted your work. SOLIDWORKS will always keep you updated when there’s new files created in your PC.

Add Ins Integration and Support

The normal SOLIDWORKS software requires regular updates to get the latest features and security patch. With SOLIDWORKS Connected, user is not required to do anything to get to the latest update as the platform always run with the latest versions available. This allowed the team working on the same project to share and upload their files without worrying on mismatched versions.

Since this platform-based workspace is inherent to the cloud, so do the additional tools. The 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS platform handled add ins differently to the desktop version. Initially only some of the add ins work with the platform but the software evolution has seen more and more support coming to the platform. The recent SOLIDWORKS Connected has supported vast range of toolsets such as Design Checker, TolAnayst, ScanTo3D, Toolbox, CircuitWorks, Linear Static Simulation, Motion, and Routing. All these next-generation solution is available to use together with the native apps like CAM, CFD and FEA.


Solidworks Connected Add Ins pop up list


SOLIDWORKS Desktop to SOLIDWORKS Connected: Making a Switch

If you are currently using SOLIDWORKS Desktop and considering transitioning to 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, evaluate your specific needs and requirements. Consider factors such as collaboration needs, accessibility, and additional features that may benefit your workflow.

Next, familiarize yourself with the new interface and tools offered by 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS. We have learned beforehand the difference in the interface and functions to the SOLIDWORKS Desktop. There is also a slight difference to the workflow and performing basic task such as saving the file. What you can do before considering the switch is utilising the training resources and tutorials to get quick grasp on the software. We have wide range of useful resources and webinar recordings available. You may also contact our CAD experts to get FREE consultation.

Finally, consider the cost implications of moving to 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS. Evaluate the pricing plans and subscription options to ensure they align with your budget and long-term goals. You may check the pricing and packages to guide you with your decision.


Conclusion: Which is the Better Option for SOLIDWORKS Users?

To make the switch to the SOLIDWORKS Connected or to go for conventional SOLIDWORKS desktop is always your choice. Staying on local machine or design freely and having the option to collaborate in the platform depends on your specific needs, preferences, and budget. The desktop version of the software is still a reliable and comprehensive CAD software that offers powerful offline capabilities. On the other hand, 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS provides a collaborative environment on top of the design features.

Here in Malaysia, both versions of SOLIDWORKS are widely used and supported. We always provide ample guide and support to match client requirements. We will carefully listen to your basic needs and nature of your projects and suggest the best solution tailored specifically to your needs.

As a Preferred Official SOLIDWORKS partners that has helped thousands of clients over the years with vast of experience, we always provide the best solution for you. If you are interested in learning and implementing the switch, Contact Us today for a quick chat.