From reviewing many of the past posts it is my understanding that SW was forced to replace PW due to licensing issues. This is a shame. It's not that PW was a perfect rendering tool—not at all—just that its replacement is just so horrid. I know this may be an unpopular view of things, but let's be realistic. PV 360 is a toy in comparison. The lack of integration into SW, the lack of anywhere near the finessed scene controls, the need to set completely separate lighting from realview, the very very poor rendered decals when masks are required, its inability to produce sharp shadows when desired, etc, etc, etc.
As a professional industrial design firm, we require realistic rendered output that is readily achievable on a time-efficient basis. We have tried the high-end renderers like Maxwell, but these are not economically feasible given the hours and hours of rendering time required, only to sometimes find that something wasn't quite right and having to run it again. We realize that these stand-alone products produce better results than PW, but the interactivity and incredible speed of PW allows us to render, tweak the geometry, render, tweak the material, render, tweak the scene, render, revise the geometry to improve aesthetics, render, retweak materials, render to file, touch up in PhotoShop and be done in less time than a single render in the standalone renderers. The result may not be the ultimate in photo realism, to completely fool the eye, but the results from PW in this process are still good emough to impress our clients time after time.
We played around with PV during 2009 and 2010 and found it so lacking that we never used it. We had hoped that with its supposed integration in 2011, those issues would be resolved. But after being required to use PV 360 due to client-supplied 2011 SW content, I was appalled. I ended up having to completely rework rendered outputs in Photoshop to supply acceptable images—even after spending countless hours changing scenes, materials, lighting, etc. in an attempt to achieve acceptable results. We ended up eating nearly 2 full days of unbillable time. We have thus learned our lesson and will not be using 2011 again. We have dutifuly paid our maintenance contracts on our seats of SW, only to have the latest release be a real downgrade in rendering capabilities. Our reseller knows nothing about rendering upgrades in 2012 but after seeing what happened in 2011 I am not holding my breath.
I would welcome an honest dialog with someone in the know at SW regarding future plans to fix this currently unusable product. As of now I am one unhappy camper.