Adobe’s Creative Suite is dead, long live the Creative Cloud

Adobe logoAdobe's Creative Suite and the applications that make it up—Photoshop, InDesign, Dreamweaver, Premiere, and a host of others—have been staples of many professional toolboxes for almost a decade now. The full suite itself has been available since September of 2003, and many of its applications have a history that reach back even further. Today at its MAX conference, however, Adobe announced a major shift in strategy for the software: boxed versions, along with their perpetual licenses, will no longer be available for any Adobe software newer than CS6. Going forward, subscribing to Adobe's Creative Cloud service will be the only way to upgrade your software.

As with the boxed versions of the software, Adobe offers several different pricing options for Creative Cloud subscriptions: new users can buy a subscription at $50 a month with an annual commitment (or $75 month-to-month), which gets you access to the full suite of software plus, all of Adobe's Edge services, 20GB of cloud storage. Users of Creative Suite versions 3 to 5.5 can get their first year of service at a reduced rate of $30 a month for the first year, while current CS6 users can subscribe for $20 a month for the first year. For individuals, these subscriptions buy you the right to use the software on up to two different computers, same as the boxed versions.

If you only need an individual application, you can subscribe to those for $20 a month with an annual commitment (or $30 month-to-month), which also gets you that 20GB of cloud storage and access to a limited subset of the online services. As with the complete subscriptions, users of CS3 through CS6 products can get a discounted rate of $10 a month for the first year. Other pricing options are available for teams and users at educational institutions.

Adobe’s Creative Suite is dead, long live the Creative Cloud

Now, assuming a number of factors are true, this move may actually save you money in the long run compared to the old perpetual license system. If you don't qualify for upgrade or educational pricing (and thus pay full price for Adobe's applications), and if you plan to upgrade to each and every new version as it is released (assuming a new version comes out every two years or so, as has been the case for the last few major updates), you'll generally end up breaking even or coming out ahead. An individual license for Photoshop CS6 will run you $699 at full price, but a two-year subscription to the software at $20 a month will cost only $480. The Master Collection of the suite goes for $2599, but a two-year subscription would run you a comparatively meager $1200 (though it doesn't seem likely that there are many people out there who use every application in the entire suite on a regular basis, so you'd probably be paying for at least some software that you didn't strictly need).

The people who the software-as-a-service phenomenon hurts are the those who use the software infrequently, would rather not upgrade to each new version as it rolls out, and are content to continue using old versions until they literally will not run on new hardware and operating systems. We're sure there are at least some of you out there running Dreamweaver CS3 or Photoshop 7.0 who are still perfectly happy with the software. For those users, Adobe will reportedly continue to sell boxed versions of CS6 for the time being, though users will only receive bug fixes and compatibility updates from this point forward.

Like it or not, more and more companies seem to think that software-as-a-service is the way to go: Adobe's efforts went from experiment to reality to mandatory in just two years. For its part, Adobe says that it has been surprised by Creative Cloud's success to date.

"We expected it to be a couple years before this happened. But we were surprised by how successful Creative Cloud has been," Scott Morris, senior director of product marketing for Creative Cloud, told CNET. "We know that's going to be a difficult transition for some customers, but we think it's going to be the best move in the long haul."

Microsoft is another major company moving in this direction. Office 2013 is still available as a boxed, perpetual-licensed product, but the company is increasingly trying to steer customers to the $100 a year Office 365 Home Premium Edition subscription instead. Like Adobe, Microsoft tries to sweeten the pot with services other than just the core Office software—an extra 20GB of SkyDrive storage and Office licenses for up to five computers may well be more appealing for many than the equivalent Home and Business product. After all, that includes the same apps but only covers one PC and costs $219.99. Like it or not, we're slowly moving toward a future where we subscribe to our systems and the software that runs on them, rather than owning them outright.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: Adobe

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