Both products share the same binary code, but they differ in the following ways:
- User Interface and application defaults are optimized for either visualization or entertainment workflows and pipelines to maximize productivity.
- 3ds Max Design features new Exposure technology for simulating and analyzing sun, sky and artificial lighting. 3ds Max does not contain this technology.
- 3ds Max includes a powerful SDK for developers to allow them to create their own plug-ins. 3ds Max Design does not contain the SDK.
- Tutorials and sample files will be customized to optimize the learning experiences of each customer group for each product.
- Documentation contains custom contect for each product.
- Icons and packaging for 3ds Max Design will be more closely aligned with Autodesk AEC solutions (AutoCAD, AutoCAD Architecture, Revit Architecture) for quick visual recognition. 3ds Max 2009 icons will remain similar to 3ds Max 2008 icons.
- Online documentation content will be tailored for visualization or entertainment customers.
The bottom line: If you work primarily in the architecture, civil engineering or manufacturing sectors, and do not need to create your own plug-ins using the SDK, choose 3ds Max Design. It has all the features of 3ds Max except for the SDK, and it includes the Exposure lighting analysis tool for assisting in LEED 8.1 certification.