The Case for Adobe OS

Adobe OS

For the past couple of years, I’ve been known to rant to my friends and creative professionals with whom I work closely about OS choices – or the lack thereof.  This is particularly the case when I encounter some kind of Mac or Windows anti-solution.

In the whole wide world that we live in, there are only two operating systems on which most creative professionals can accomplish their work. It’s about high-time for a third, real choice.  Isn’t it?

I use both Macs and PCs daily.  They both have their advantages and disadvantages.

The biggest problem I see is that the big two operating systems are built as one-size fits all products.  And that’s the one thing they don’t do – they don’t fit all users.  Certainly not creative professionals.

And that’s why I think the creative world is ready for an OS choice built with them in mind.  I can’t think of a better company to make something like that happen than Adobe.

Now, I don’t know whether or not Adobe is even thinking about doing something like this, but I sure hope they are. I think the timing is perfect for Adobe to launch an OS solution for creative professionals that is hardware agnostic and is built around the concept of speed for creative development.

Mac Woes

My biggest problem with the Mac is the closed platform.  And it’s not the “closed for the sake of security” stuff that bothers me. It’s more of the “big bad bully closed” feeling that gets me.

No matter how much I spend on a high-powered Mac, I’m wedded to Apple’s whims when it comes to future hardware expansion or software support.  But, my biggest fear of Apple’s closed environment is exemplified in the Mac App Store.

Of course, we can still buy software off the shelves for our Macs, but for how much longer?  When is Apple going to decide that “the best way to secure the Mac OS is to establish an Mac App approval process?”  The developer frustrations from the iPhone App Store echo in my head.

So far, the Mac App Store has been a very smooth tool to use.  But, I don’t trust Apple.

And with the ongoing Final Cut Pro X fiasco, a lot of other pro users have lost trust and faith in Apple as well.  While I don’t really have a dog in the Final Cut Pro X fight, the way Apple has handled the support of its faithful pro userbase has been rather sad.

Frankly, I like Final Cut Pro X.  While it is very different from an interface standpoint as compared to FCP 7, I’m learning to use it and can see its potential for the way I handle media.  That said, I also know editors who are up the creek with an outdated, unsupported 32-bit FCP 7 that’s been declared end-of-life by almighty Apple.  That sucks.

Some people respond to these criticisms with, “well, then, don’t upgrade!”  Ok.  So, you want editors working on film and TV projects to stick to a stale, 32-bit program (assuming they don’t run out of needed licenses for additional, needed seats) for another decade – with no other updates?

The “don’t upgrade” comments come from those who are either ignorant to the problems this FCP X has created for working professionals or unwavering fanboys.  In either event, “don’t upgrade” doesn’t solve anything.

So, what’s happening to the creative professionals who cannot use FCP X?

Adobe and AVID.

Both companies are enticing FCP 7 users to jump ship and swim over to their more traditional and power-user-friendly platforms with some pretty attractive discounts.  And while I have only used AVID a little in the past, it is still an industry standard.  And, for the more affordable platforms, I actually prefer Adobe’s Premiere Pro over Final Cut Pro 7.

The reason for this preference is not the interface.  They are very similar, in fact.  Heck, you can even use FCP 7 keyboard layouts to work in Premiere Pro.

The actual reason I chose Premiere Pro over FCP 7 as my primary editing platform when I started getting more serious about video editing was performance and the integration among Adobe’s Creative Suite programs.  One of the big reasons that everyone was so excited about a 64-bit version of Final Cut Pro is because FCP 7 had its limitations with RAM and processing power on the speedy new Macs.

I also love the ability to roundtrip media between Premiere Pro, Soundbooth (now Audition in CS5.5) and After Effects.  Just about every time I edit media in Premiere Pro, I’m sending something out to one of the other programs and then bring it back in seamlessly.

And, it’s not just video programs either for Adobe.  I frequently use Lightroom and Photoshop together with near seamless integration.

For some reason, Adobe just feels like its more “on the side” of creative professionals, while Apple more and more feels like the Man – shucking and jiving me for all it can get.

And then, there’s the hardware lockout.  Sure, lots of DIYers create their Hackintosh projects, but that’s not helpful when you need support from your manufacturer or you need to know that your machine is going to be stable on current and future OS upgrades.

Apple seems to love proprietary or creating its own “standard.”  Apple gave the USB 3.0 the finger even though it has boomed on PCs over the past year or so.  While Thunderbolt looks to be quite the cool alternative I/O standard, we’ve been waiting for products to roll out for months.  What we hoped would be a flood of Thunderbolt products this Summer has turned into a slow trickle of only a handful of products and a $50 Thunderbolt cable direct from Apple.

Windows Blows

The reason I use a Windows PC is because it’s not a Mac.  Along with the closed platform rant above, you get so much more bang-for-your buck when you buy a PC.  That’s not a Windows OS thing, but a hardware thing, which I think is one of the biggest advantages to go with Windows.

But then, trying to troubleshoot why some kind of fax driver is interfering with a webcam becomes a regular hassle.  And then, there’s bloatware.  Anything and everything that Microsoft and PC vendors can throw on a computer ends up on there and it unnecessarily uses system resources.

And then there’s security.  Microsoft’s legacy support issues seem entirely opposite of Apple – to a fault.  At some point, you have to cut off support for obsolete programs and functionality (not to give Apple any slack here for what it did to professional editors with FCP X).  Yet, because so many different types of users are married to Microsoft, it simply can’t cut support when it otherwise should.

I have a love-hate relationship with my desktop PC.  Unlike my Mac, it doesn’t “just work.”  Weird driver issues crash the video card on an infrequent basis, but it’s always at a point when I haven’t saved my work.  There always seem to be half-a-dozen or so programs that need to be updated.  And, there’s always something running in the background that shouldn’t be.

On the other side, I’m free to upgrade my system using whatever components from whichever manufacturer that I choose.  The price point for those components, or a system as a whole, is generally more than reasonable – and a certifiable bargain compared to what options Apple offers me.

If Windows was as reliable as OS X, I wouldn’t be writing this right now.  But the fact that Windows tries to be everything to everyone prevents it from doing what we need it to do . . . just work.

Why Adobe OS?

I can’t think of a company in a better position to compete in the desktop OS market than Adobe.  The company already has a strong, faithful userbase who would jump on the ability to operate independent of Apple’s overpriced hardware and growing stranglehold on software support and distribution, or – on the other hand – would jump ship from Microsoft’s bloated and buggy Windows OS.

Adobe is really making a push toward the mobile market right now, supporting app development across a broad range of devices.  However, Adobe professional software users live and breath on full-fledged computers – PC and Mac.

Adobe already has what appears to be a pretty strong partnership with HP, which could certainly develop “certified” hardware configurations that come preloaded and optimized with Adobe OS and Creative Suite software.  I can’t see HP balking at that arrangement since you can get already get turnkey Windows systems that are pretty much the same.  Why can’t we just have the same thing without the Windows crap between Adobe and the hardware?

I think the addition of an Adobe OS could be another consolidating move on the company’s part (like the Macromedia acquisition) to further solidify it’s position as a single resource for creative professionals.  As a result, I think Adobe OS could be a win-win for the company and its software users.

Am I the only one who feels like there should be another choice of operating systems?

If not Adobe, then who?



  1. says

    Apple is a consumer electronic company. You call it closed, they call it integration with hardware and software. Perhaps both descriptions are right. The problem is that you want it to be something other than what it is, and that’s a recipe for frustration.

    On the other hand, Windows is fraught with frustration from Adware, Malware, incompatible drivers and other problems that come with that OS. It is no more Open than Mac OS X, though. It’s a proprietary piece of software owned by Microsoft.

    If you want Open, go with a Linux solution and hope you can find the software you want. Instead of using Adobe products, you’ll use FOSS products like GIMP. Powerful in their own right, but dependent upon a disjointed group of developers to provide new features and direction.

    Good luck.

    • says

      You’re right. Apple is a consumer electronic company. I still don’t have to like their “integration” solution, which I think is a very good description of Apple’s viewpoint. There’s no changing Apple’s roadmap, so I’m not really asking for the company to change. I would just like to see another choice available.

      I don’t think going with Linux and open source products are a realistic alternative for Photoshop, Lightroom, Premiere, Final Cut, Aperture, etc. I know there are other “options” in the open source world out there; however, GIMP just doesn’t replace Photoshop for me.

      You’re right that Windows is not “open” in terms of “open source,” but my point was that it’s more of an open ecosystem than Macs.

      All three of your points, I think, further support the need for a third real choice for creative professionals professionals.

  2. Robert Garrett says

    Linux would be an attractive solution. Perhaps an Adobe OS based in that.

  3. says

    I sincerly agree with this concept. I have for years wondered if it would be possible for my main apps photoshop, bridge and a few plugins to have a tighter integration with the UI and OS. Its a bit like shutter lag most of the time, an annoyance but just think what it would be like to have a really powerfull database or at the low end even something as simple to set up as Bento as part of the OS. Yes to a certain extent it can be done now with scripting but it also gets messy and one solution never fits every circumstance…
    Good post to ponder on…

  4. jo hansson says

    Adobe as a kind of knight in shining armor?
    LOL !!!!!
    Look what they did to Macromedia Freehand and GoLive!

  5. says

    I would have agreed about Windows before Windows 7, been running LR and CS5 for like 2 years without a single error, crash, or anything to slow my workflow and my $950 PC system would have cost about $2900 from Apple to get close to the same hardware

  6. Jerome Taylor says

    The cheapness and ease of upgrading Windows boxes is a double edged sword for the unwary. It is very easy for the inexperienced to think that they are saving money on junky power supplies, memory and video cards. When Windows informs them that their collation of crud has failed once again they blame the messenger. Spending money to save money is key to solid performance in a build it yourself PC. Yes, I have assembled working systems from parts pulled out of in my junk bin; no, I don’t use them as production machines. Mid-level products from well regarded manufacturers with recommendations from respected web sites and strong user reviews will perform without a hitch. They cost a bit more in the short term but are far cheaper down the road. Frankly, if you are getting blue screens from Windows 7 you probably need to shop smarter.

  7. forkboy1965 says

    When I first read this post I opted to kick back and let it sink in for a while. I wasn’t certain what to think of the idea. Especially seeing how I, a former builder of my own Windows-driven rigs, made the move to Apple’s iMac series in 2009 and have, at this time, no intention of going back.

    But with some time spent contemplating your idea I gotta say I like it. However, I would NOT, want to see Adobe coordinate with HP. HP is why I moved into building my own computers from scratch.

    While I’m not certain what would be the solution from a hardware perspective I do wonder if an Adobe OS could be crafted from Linux and be an OS which pretty much revolved solely around the various Adobe creative products. The ability to install your own browser is a must. And the OS would need to be capable of handling other software installs, but then where does it end?

    It really is an interesting idea, but it suddenly occurs to me wouldn’t having Adobe create an OS for it’s software basically be a closed system, which you don’t like in relationship to Apple?

  8. says

    I spent the day thinking about this editorial Eric, and I think you are on the right path.

    11 years ago, when I switched to Apple, and Final Cut Pro, the primary reason was to have a single supplier editing system. My business is video production, and I spent 1994 – 2000 building and rebuilding PC edit systems. The best I ever got meant I spent on average 8 hours per week (based on 12 months) dealing with Windows headaches. To achieve that I built a computer exactly to spec to the editing hardware/software specs. Aside from updates to the editing software, and photoshop, etc – the computer never saw the internet. The software was the highest end available at the time – save for Avid.

    Moving to a single vendor solution – Apple reduced my trouble hours to less than 6 days per year. I expanded, and added 4 editors, no significant issues technically. For my purposes, it was the panacea.

    OK, up comes FCPX. I haven’t seen it aside from the internet, but I do know based on the comments of others, I can’t use it. So, now the time has come. I need to move on. This is a game changer, no doubt about it. I can’t trust Apple – even for hardware now. Sure, I’ll keep my iPhone and iPad, but will I replace my Macs with new Macs – nope.

    I would like to see a solution just for us creative types. Adobe might be as good as anyone else making an OS that will work. My decision on an editor will most likely be CS 5.5. I’ve always had Premiere as an application from about version 1.X. I guess I’ll have to factor in more time to maintain computers. Microsoft wins for the time being.

    Good work Eric!