Adobe Creative Cloud and the Death of Boxed Software

Adobe Creative Cloud

What a week it has been.

Many pro and amateur photographers, along with many other creative pros and enthusiasts, woke up Monday morning looking forward to what might come out of the Adobe MAX conference as the latest Adobe products were set to be unveiled.

Adobe teased us for several weeks leading up to Adobe MAX, including an impressive showing of new video products at NAB 2013. Many of us were nearly on pins and needles with anticipation based on what we had seen thus far.

I mean, this stuff just keeps better and better.

And Then… The Hammer Dropped.

Adobe killed perpetual licenses of almost all of its creative software. Creative Cloud is the future. The only future.

Sure, you can still buy CS6 licenses, and you will own those in perpetuity. Although, you won’t get the whiz-bang new features for CS6. Ever.

Deep down, most of us knew this was coming. However, I don’t think many of us guessed it would happen this year. I sure didn’t.

The New Adobe Regime

So, just what exactly is going on with the new Photoshop CC and other Adobe applications? (And, by the way, CC stands for Creative Cloud.)

The next versions of what we have known for years as “Creative Suite” applications are going to be available exclusively on a subscription basis. However, Adobe will continue to sell CS6 products as non-subscription (or perpetual licenses). Of course, the CS6 applications will remain as CS6 applications – no new bells and whistles like what we see in Photoshop CC.

Inaccurate Info About Creative Cloud is Everywhere

I have read so many inaccurate comments and blog posts about what Adobe Creative Cloud is and what kind of limitations are a part of it. There is so much bad info out there that it can be hard to separate what’s right and wrong.

I think part of this has to do with Adobe’s naming scheme for its software subscription service: Creative Cloud.

Because we are talkin about Adobe’s “cloud” I think a lot of assumptions are made about how the service works.

Adobe Creative Cloud applications do not run in your web browser. They do not run “in the cloud.”

Again, I blame the name.

You pay a monthly subscription fee of $50. You then get access to download all of the Creative Cloud applications, which includes every application that was formerly part of the Creative Suite Master Collection, as well as many others, including Lightroom.

You download the applications to your computer and run them just link you did with the Creative Suite applications. Photoshop CC will run on your computer just like Photoshop CS3, CS4, CS5 and CS6 did.

No, it doesn’t cost $600/yr to “subscribe” to Photoshop.

Photoshop is available in the $50/mo subscription plan for all of Creative Cloud; however, you can subscribe to just Photoshop for $20/mo. If you have a legit serial number for Photoshop CS3 or higher, it is only $10/mo for the first year.

All of our files are stored in the cloud.

You can save your files on your computer just like you always have. Additionally, Adobe offers online storage for Creative Cloud subscribers and gives you the ability to sync files between computers and mobile devices.

Adobe Creative Cloud is Good Business, and Generally a Good Deal for Pros

I signed up for Creative Cloud on day one. I love it.

I know lots of other pros are loving it as well. I use several of the applications in my regular workflow, including Photoshop, Premiere Pro, Encore, Media Encoder, After Effects and Illustrator, among others.

Fifty bucks a month for all that? Are you kidding me? Yeah, day one sign-up was a no brainer for me. I can budget a $50/mo business expense much easier than I can several hundred bucks every spring for Production Premium right after I open my checkbook to the IRS.

People who make their living day-in and day-out in Photoshop and other Creative Suite applications generally feel pretty good about the deal. Part-time pros, and those who upgrade less frequently or share licenses in a household that contains a couple of creative pros run into some issues with the Creative Cloud plan.

On Adobe’s side of the coin, Creative Cloud is a constant revenue stream that is going to grow its business big time. I’ve heard numbers of 500,000+ subscribers inside the first year of Creative Cloud. Doing the math at 500k x $50 is $25,000,000 per month in revenue. And that’s going to grow to a much bigger number now.

Adobe is a business. It has shareholders and it has to be profitable. There a lots of comments about Abode’s greed floating around the Internet this week. I’m not going there.

I think there is too much value in the Creative Cloud model to call it pure greed; however, I think there are clearly some inconveniences created by this move – to a lot of people.

Creative Cloud in the Fight Against Piracy

Finding a torrent for Photoshop or any other Creative Suite application is a breeze. You can be up and running a pirated copy of Photoshop in a few minutes if you wanted. Adobe knows this, and wants to change this.

There are a few ways that I see Creative Cloud can be an effective step toward limiting piracy of Adobe’s most popular applications.

First, the activation process allows Creative Cloud apps to be installed on up to two computers simultaneously. Once per month, the computer connects with Adobe’s servers to validate the subscription. If it doesn’t validate, the software goes into trial mode. You then have 30-days to straighten things out.

Second, by providing a high-end product at a lower month-to-month rate, Adobe is reducing the incentive to circumvent DRM in order to run Photoshop. I have read comments from more than one self-proclaimed pirate who is jumping on board Creative Cloud because the cost/benefit analysis leans more toward a low-cost subscription than it does to pirate it.

Third, key features are integrated with the cloud, which can’t be accessed without an Adobe Creative Cloud login. I think we are going to see a lot more of this coming too. If we can’t get some of the whiz bang features that makes today’s creative applications so great without subscribing to a service, then the incentive to pirate the software will be further reduced.

The Crack Dealer Has Changed the Rules…

Of all the complaints I have heard this past week, I don’t think anyone has a bigger bone to pick with Adobe than the amateur/enthusiast photographer. Man, I feel you on this one.

Here’s a typical comment that arrived in my inbox this week:

I’m furious about Adobe’s decision not to offer Photoshop as a boxed software and make it subscription only.

I am 72 years old and live on a fixed and declining income. I have been a loyal user of Photoshop since 1995 when I purchased my first computer. I faithfully bought every upgrade by saving my quarters and popping for the upgrade every 18 months.

I hope enough Photoshop users worldwide get pissed over their greedy decision. This is truly a sad day for amateur photographers. The Crack Dealer has just changed the rules.

The amateur photographer, who has been an Adobe customer for a decade, upgrades every couple of years because that’s what it is worth to him. He’s not making any money off of his photography, but he’s quite proficient with Adobe’s software and really produces some solid work thanks to Photoshop and, maybe, Lightroom too.

After saving some cash and waiting for the appropriate 2-year upgrade cycle, he’s now left with a decision to make. Upgrade to Photoshop CC and commit to $240/yr (ok, $120 for the first year) every year (until Adobe raises subscription prices), or upgrade to last year’s Photoshop CS6 and get left behind with the whiz bang features.

The next upgrade for CS6 is never. Or, at least until he’s willing to sign on to a subscription model.

$20/mo. doesn’t sound like much to a lot of folks. But there are plenty of enthusiasts who are on a fixed income and can’t commit to that every month.

This is bad news for the enthusiast photographer and bad news for Adobe.

The Un-Subscribe Problem

The achilles heel of Creative Cloud is here. When you unsubscribe to Creative Cloud, you lose the ability to access your work or create further work.

Let’s say you subscribe to CC for 2 years. You get low on cash-flow and can’t commit to re-up for another year. Two months into your “unsubscription” period, you want to look at a .PSD that you created in Photoshop. No such luck, you don’t subscribe to Photoshop CC anymore.

Sure, you can subscribe for a single month at a higher rate, but you just want to open one file and maybe do a couple of edits and re-print it.

Of all the complaints for pros and amateurs, this problem sucks the most.

The most common solution I have heard from users has been for Adobe to allow programs to open, export, print and otherwise output files – even outside of the subscription period.

However, I have another solution that I think is both fair and addresses a lot of the concerns for many amateurs…

Last-Gen Perpetual Licenses, Please?

I would propose that Adobe grant a perpetual license to Creative Cloud customers have been a subscriber for a pre-determined period. I think 2-years would be fair.

After that 2-years of subscription, grant a perpetual license for software that is a year or two old. As a result, if users can’t continue their subscription, they can at least perform some form of editing and continue work with software that they shelled out $1200 for over the past two years. Feel free to cut off other Creative Cloud features, but for the folks on a fixed income, this would be much easier to swallow.

I think such a move would show a great deal of fairness on Adobe’s behalf and still prevent the latest versions of the software from being cheapened.

Closing Thoughts

I have a lot more thoughts on Adobe Creative Cloud, and I’m generally pretty excited about what is coming in June with the new software versions. I am going to try to get together with Jimmy Beltz over at on Saturday at 1PM ET for a live stream Q&A session about Creative Cloud, and maybe some other topics as well. Come join us here at if you want to talk more about it.

In the mean time, I am very interested to continue the conversation with you guys here. What are your thoughts on Creative Cloud and where Adobe is headed?



  1. James Jones says

    CC = Creative Crap…. This wont fly for long, I assume the backlash has not even hit the fans yet. Good thing my studio and I spent all that money on CS6 since thats what we are going to be using for a long time now. Subscriptions? I think not my friend. Adobe needs to get there heads examined. Its all a money making scam!

  2. Ed Mease says

    Adobe has made some amazing software over the years and because of that has done well and profited. They have become the standard for the go to software. It’s because of the small mom and pop businesses that have a nickel budget and can only afford to make small investments that Adobe has done so well. It’s not the mega shops that made them so successful. It’s you and I, the people who have a very small budget to play with each year that made them the company they are. We bought their product and then told our friends and co-partners about their amazing products. So then our friends and co-partners went out and bought the products also. They in turn told their friends and their co-partners and those partners went out and bought and invested in the software. This is how Adobe became so successful. They have run amok. Adobe thinks they can force this down the communities throat. It’s time for a new software company to compete against Adobe. Lack of competition causes this kind of problem to arise. They start to think they are greater than they are. They start to think they can do what ever they want. They think they can get away with it. I say no more purchases of Adobe product. I am going to look for another resource edit my photo images with. I don’t need them as much as they need me. It’s time to cut Adobe balls off. Hopefully they’ll rethink their idiotic plan. I don’t need all the latest and greatest creative cloud bells and whistles. They Adobe are going to find out that the market is not as large as they think it is.

    • Bengt Nyman says

      I totally agree with you Ed.
      Eric sounds like an undercover commercial.
      I do not think that Adobe fully appreciates it’s own market.
      Let corporations, advertising agencies and Eric Reagan pay the big bill.
      Most photographers can accomplish their every day tasks using Lightroom or Elements with necessary plug-ins.
      Meanwhile the market will rearrange itself to fill any voids and to create new and better alternatives.

    • skfla says

      Ed I agree w/ you BUT, I think Adobe has crunched the #’s & are headed down this route full speed. They are looking at the savings of dropping all the costs of hard drive (CD’s then DVD’s then perhaps flash drives, etc) production & distribution. On top of the savings, they look at the increased profits from no longer having to sell their products at large discounts (so the retailer/wholesaler can cover their costs & perhaps make a profit) to Best Buy, Costco, Walmart, Adorama, etc. Mostly likely they will still sell thru those companies but at a MUCH reduced referral fee based pricing arrangement. They have to figure that dropping all the costs & fees based on the “old fashioned” distribution method will more than make up for the loss of users like us.

      I also think that Adobe is looking at trends & sees that the younger crowd is more than willing to pay monthly service fees for everything (I can’t believe what my children & their friends are willing to pay for cell phone/web service, etc). The younger crowd also seems to shirk the idea of having DVD’s, or any other hard copy method of ownership, & doesn’t seem to really care about permanent usage or license ownership. For example, most college classes in this area currently encourage & work thru the CC. Often, a certain amount of complementary CC licenses are offered to professors/teachers/instructors if they have a certain number of students that purchase the CC. If not free, the educational discounts are quite significant. Adobe probably figures they can continue to offer their CC services to students, at a sizable discount, have them used to non-ownership & continuing/ongoing & endless service fees & then simply age out the dinosaurs like us & of course, increase their bottom line immensely.

      Now that being said, I think Adobe probably plans to back off this strategy to some degree. They are probably doing what a lot of large companies, & believe it or not a fair amount of government bodies, do. Create a policy that causes significant friction, etc. Then after some time has passed, appear to back off & offer a compromise to satisfy those that are upset by they new policy. (Whether the compromise is a temp fix or permanent policy depends mainly on their marketing strategy.) The fix is often something that would have also created dissatisfaction/friction but in comparison to the new policy policy, seems a better alternative. The fix is then often accepted, with some additional grumbling- but still accepted. In Adobe’s case I this will take the form of offering individual product licensing/ownership & a somewhat reduced rate. Possibly with reduced functionality & support from the CC equivalent. But in all honesty, I don’t see them making many adjustments from their new policy & they will basically just kick the old school/dinosaurs small users to the curb.

      One of the things, out of many, that I find rather curious & somewhat upsetting/disturbing is the incredibly uniform acceptance & positive comment by the professional writers/reviewers like Eric from the major sites. If you visit & read a lot of them, it pretty uniform. The writers all talk about the surprising nature of Adobe’s move, but they generally write about the “good” of the move. The negative, backward & “resistant to change” comments are almost all coming from readers. Then I’ve seen the sites almost immediately backing off their initial articles and writing up an article that either lists the downsides to Adobe’s move or at least has a more balanced approach. To me its pretty clear that most of the pro’s on these sites already use CC (with the company maybe paying the monthly service charge?) & do view this as a natural progression.

      Well anyway, I’ve written way more than anyone has interest in reading but I will mention one last thing as an fyi. We are very fortunate locally to have a museum that puts on Adult art classes. They have local pro’s come in and teach classes in a variety of subjects & skill levels @ very reduced rates (ie: 6 three hours classes typically run under $100). The subjects range from very general photo classes for beginners to very specific software classes for more advanced students. I’ve been taking classes off & on for a while. The reason I mention this is that ALL the instructors use Adobe CC. AND-they all give exactly the same reason: In exchange for the monthly fee (I believe they all probably get an educational discount) they always have the current version & don’t have to worry about getting stuck with an outdated version. When I ask about their willingness to give up access to their post processed images if they decide not to use Adobe in future, they all seem non-plussed for a few moments. It’s like they’ve never thought about that, or really any other possible downside to the CC. Then, of course, they invariably say that it will never happen &/or that Adobe will make arrangements for anyone leaving the fold. Mind you, these are all decent people that don’t get commissions or try to sell the students on useless equipment/software. But they all have the same mind set as a lot of the writers on the websites/magazines.

      • says

        Thanks for the excellent analysis skfla.

        For the record, I pay for the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription charges out of my own pocket.

        • skfla says

          Thanks Eric! As an fyi, your article was much more balanced then most I’ve seen. & good 2 no reference your subscription charges but honestly, I doubt it would have impacted your opinion either way. The writers at your blog seem pretty open & fair in general. Take care, Sk

  3. Ed Mease says

    Hey Eric get a grip you been drinking too much of their Kool-Aid. Haven’t you read the news people are having a hard time just buying the gasoline for their cars. When it comes down to it and you have money for food or software where do you think that people are going to spend their money. Stop drinking the Kool-Aid need a reality check. It’s because of articles like what you’re writing that Adobe thinks they can get away with this. You really are part of the problem.

    • says

      Hey Ed.

      I can understand where you are coming from, but I’m not drinking anyone’s Kool-Aid. I think there are some problems with CC, and I felt like I made those points fairly clear and unapologetic with regard to how Adobe has implemented it.

      Last year, I had the option to continue with a Creative Suite upgrade, or join Creative Cloud. It made economic sense for me to go the Creative Cloud route, which I explained above, because I use more than just Photoshop.

      I tried to offer a balanced approach in the article by looking at other serious concerns, which don’t necessarily directly impact me. However, that may be part of the problem of being both a user and an author is that my personal usage viewpoint carries through. If that is muddled in the article, I hope this response clarifies the message I attempted to convey.

      Just because I like a product, doesn’t mean I think everything is perfect about it. Again, I highlighted some serious concerns – particularly with regard to amateur/enthusiast users.

      In your previous comment, you referenced the need for competition. I think that is a very relevant point and one that will be interesting to watch play out in the coming months/years. However, there has been competition for Photoshop for many years (Corel, GIMP, Pixelmator) – the competition just hasn’t gained much market share against the 800lb gorilla.

      Let’s see what happens next.

      • Ed Mease says

        Thanks for your kind reply regarding my comment. I have been a user/buyer of Adobe products since 1990-9. I got my first copy of Photoshop in 1991 Ver-1. I work in the print industry and done many different things through out the years. I was a master four color stripper back in 1982 and have progressed with the technology from film on tables to computers as big as a large rooms. We would run what I called ticker tape reals that would be translated by the computers and set type in galley format that would be pasted onto boards to be shot to film. When desktop publishing came to the industry and started to be implemented in the early 90’s I was there. I went from wet etching film to dry etching film to doing color corrections on the Scitex systems to personal computing editing of 4C scans to today where I run CTP systems and all work is done on computers. I have seen it all. I have been a loyal customer of Adobe products. They make fantastic products. What rubs me the wrong way about this is they take away yours and mine the option of hard box, digital download or the Creative Cloud that you address in you article. Its now a take it or leave it product. It really is about generating more money for Adobe than anything else. They / you can bring up all kind of points that make it sound like a good thing but really Adobe has decided for you. You / me, we just need to shut up and pull out our wallets and pay up. I just don’t see this as a good thing, any way you slice it. That creative cloud thing where are your files?? Are they in cyber space somewhere?? Who else can access your copyright protected file without your permission? You cant say that no one else can get to them because you didn’t create to cloud. It is possible for you stuff/files to be stollen. I don’t know to many questions and right now not enough good answers for them. I hate this we will figure it out as we go along mentality that seems to permeate the industry. I guess we will see how all this pans out over the next couple of years.

        Ed M

        • says

          Thanks for the follow-up Ed.

          That’s a fascinating viewpoint from someone who has been a part of the creative industry as long as you have. I appreciate where you are coming from and all that you have seen in the industry. I was four in 1982 (when you were a master four color stripper), so you definitely have a different perspective on this industry than I do. While I used film in high-school and college, I am primarily a product of the digital age. So, we are certainly coming from different places.

          I’ll look forward to your voice in this conversation as the Creative Cloud and whatever changes follow in the coming months and years (be it competition, roll-backs to boxed software from Adobe, or whatever else may happen).

          • Ed Mease says

            Hi Eric
            Take a look an this guys web site. Lloyd Chambers blog I have followed him for many years. Here is his take on the Adobe service/user agreement. Now this is scary. How about all of those images that are in the CC, that you created, that are a source of income, a part of your soul are frozen and you now have been shut out/cut off. You would not be a happy camper. How about Adobe have the right to use your content any way they want. Make money off of you but dont have to pay you for that. Scary Scary Scary. I dont even buy into Apples version of the cloud. I dont want anyone to be able to access my content without me being in complete control.


            Eric your article has turned into a great community conversation. If I had written an article like you did and had this kind of community conversation going on I would be very proud. Good job dude and keep up the good work.

            On another note I was on the advisory board for one of the tech schools here in Pennsylvania. Dealing with the graphic arts and I completely understand where you’re coming from. Most of the students had no idea what the fundamental foundations in the industry were and where they came from. It’s a fascinating time to be part of right now things are moving at the speed of light but we still need to be careful and thoughtful about what takes place.

            Have a great day
            Best regards
            Ed M

          • says

            I think he makes some good points Ed; however, as an attorney, I take issue with some of his interpretations of the Terms of Service. Perhaps, in the future, I may do an article that breaks down the relevant clauses of the Creative Cloud Terms of Service.

            Of course, I think that fact goes further to his point that these click-wrap agreements (which are so common in our software and online service agreements) are very difficult for the average user to completely understand.

  4. Gary says

    I wouldn’t pay anyone anything for anything in the cloud. I will just use CS6 until some other company comes out with something better in s box. So long Adobe. I tried to be loyal.

  5. Jerry says

    Lease a car, in the end you’ve paid a lot and you end up with nothing, same thing here!

      • says

        The lease is tax deductable. As Eric pointed out, businesses can do this.

        Me, using PS since version 4 and getting every upgrade since, will have to switch to Lightroom and say bye-bye to the lovely Camera Raw. It can do other post in GIMP or something else.

        Sad day indeeds for the small fry.

  6. Robert says

    As a Production Premium CS6 owner there are several programs in Creative Cloud I would NEVER open but I’d still be forced to pay for every month… forever! The video enthusiast who makes a few extra dollars a year can’t justify such an expense. I might have felt better about this if they kept similar bundles and pricing to CS i.e. “Production Premium CC” for $30/mo ($360/yr) with an option to own what you’ve paid for after 2 years. But taking away the option of ownership and jacking up the price to $600 a year completely is spitting in the face of their customer. FCP7/X, Avid, Vegas, are all good edit suites but I wanted to be loyal to the tool I enjoy most and I guess that will have to be CS6 for the foreseeable future.

    I think this will increase piracy as their methods of prevention have not changed. The folks that have pirated in the past don’t care about CC because they will just keep pirating.

    I hope Adobe listens to their customers and has a change of heart. If they don’t we will.

    P.S. Nice article & Ditto to Rich Maher’s comment!

  7. says

    I am one of those who does not make a living from Photoshop but have been a faithful customer for many years. I started with CS3. I teach Digital Photography and Elements at a local community center. I’ve always done my own editing in Lightroom and Photoshop. But I can not afford $50.00 a month. Yes I can subscribe to Photoshop CC alone for $20.00 a month, but what troubles me is if and when I can no longer teach, I will not be able to afford that. What happens to my work? I am 75 , healthy and active but for how long? Maybe I am one of the causalities that Adobe cares little about. I wonder how many more of us are out there?

  8. TimR says

    fuck. i aint fucking paying no 50 godam bucks a month forever adobe gonna go down inflames they can go fuck themselves

  9. Andy Parker says

    In the States you’re all moaning about $49 a month, which is bad enough. Here in the UK CC costs over $72 a month. I don’t know how much extra it costs them to push all those bits and bytes across the Atlantic, but I certainly can’t afford it. What annoys me is the way they’ve been dangling these new features in front of us for the past few weeks, making us salivate with excitement, then drop this bombshell on us. The crack dealer has indeed changed the rules. I sincerely hope a competitor comes up with a reasonable alternative (I’ve already contributed to HitFilm’s kick starter campaign), and this scheme bites them in the ass. I guess in the end we’ve got nothing to worry about though; those pirates are very clever people.

  10. TimR says

    Anyone know where I can go to make a petition for all to sign to stop adobe from greedily gouging us with their insane monthly subscriptions?

    I wouldn’t mind 10 bucks a month for PS alone and 10 bucks for each additional suite and use a pay as you go subscription for those of us who use it on an occasional basis.. wouldn’t that be more fair? right guys?

    • says

      “I wouldn’t mind 10 bucks a month for PS alone and 10 bucks for each additional suite and use a pay as you go subscription for those of us who use it on an occasional basis.. wouldn’t that be more fair? right guys?”

      That’s exactly the number I have been thinking about as a more fair price for PhotoShop by itself. I didn’t want to throw it out there, but was waiting to see if someone would chime in with other price points that would work for them.

  11. TimR says

    Adobe thinks they do this to keep pirates from copying their software when its really FUCKING ADOBE who are the REAL PIRATES

  12. says

    This is a very thoughtful analysis, Eric, and I appreciate the effort that went into it. I certainly understand Adobe’s enthusiasm for CC but I have to admit that I don’t fully understand yours. Are you really that cash strapped that eliminating the need to come up with a lump sum to upgrade every 18 months is worth agreeing to pay a monthly stipend to Adobe for the rest of your life to retain complete editing access to your image library? It’s a rhetorical question, of course, but your reasoning seems like short term thinking to me. And to ignore the risk of price increases that dramatically outstrip the rate of inflation is to ignore the behavior of every unregulated monopoly I’ve ever encountered. How’s that cable bill looking?

    Yeah, it might be nice to get new features more than once every 18 months but, again, not at the cost of a lifetime rental agreement. And, yes, to the extent that Adobe can build server-dependent functionality into CC then it could reduce piracy. However, as of now, even Adobe is acknowledging that the core applications of CC can be pirated as easily as CS6 and I have yet to read or hear of any online add-on that would compel someone to pay $50/mo when they would be otherwise inclined to steal the software.

    None of this changes the new reality but, unlike you, I’m not buying into it and I never will. I’ll use my legitimately obtained copy of CS6 as long as its practical and then I’ll have to find something else. Very frustrating after investing 22 years learning and advocating for these Adobe apps.

    • says

      Very good points Tim L.

      I actually keep a separate (perpetual) license for Lightroom, which is where the vast majority of my images reside. And, I’ll likely continue to do so as long as it is offered. The installation restrictions make a lot more sense for the way I use Lightroom – multiple home computers and a travel computer, which is something I couldn’t do on Creative Cloud’s version of Lightroom.

      Of course, if I dropped CC, I would have to roll back to CS5.5 (or upgrade to CS6) and likely lose some compatibility with current projects that would be created on CC products. This isn’t something any of us really considered a week ago (even though we expected it would come someday, just not so soon), which is why I hope that some of this negative feedback from users pushes Adobe to change the structure of Creative Cloud a bit – with the perpetual licenses I suggested as a big one on my wish list.

      If the noise is loud enough and the money is not making sense for Adobe, I think we’ll see some things change. But those are some big “ifs”.

      Again, you make some very good points. Thanks for chiming in this conversation.

  13. Peter Pal says

    Re Adobe CC:

    Mr Reagan’s mention of a 72 year old, long-time Photoshop user took me aback because I too am 72 years of age and have over the years had exactly the same relationship with Photoshop as described for that person.

    Photoshop has been an invaluable tool for creative expression for me over those years and I have constantly acknowledged the brilliant work of the Photoshop creators to anyone interested in the images I make. I have happily paid the dollars requested for the right to use this extraordinary tool for self-expression in the reasonable expectation that the resulting images (albeit a collaboration between Photoshop and myself) would be mine to access, refine and propagate or just enjoy at will into the future. Just as a traditional artist who makes any image owes a debt to the paint makers, the canvas makers, the brush makers, the print makers, the stone quarriers etc. I, in the digital age, have had the reasonable expectation that the final product is mine. This reasonable expectation now apparently ends with my current Photoshop CS6 Extended software.

    Like many on limited income, including the perennial “struggling young artist”, it appears that Adobe is saying, ‘Fuck you for your recognition and support, we are now only interested in the pros and others who have plenty of money and are willing to suck up to us for years to come, at whatever cost we will decide upon’.

    There are several aspects of the Adobe CC declaration that I find obnoxious or completely unacceptable, but the refusal of editorial access to my images made within the proposed Creative Cloud parameters, unless I pay a substantial and convoluted homage to Adobe, is the absolute deal breaker.

    I will not be a party to nor will I support the Creative Cloud concept, most of which I and many others are not interested in and which is really irrelevant to Creativity….. Cloud or otherwise.

    • Bengt Nyman says

      Hi Peter Pal,
      I agree with you.
      I am a devoted D800E raw photographer. I do not use PS. I use Elements. I occasionally use Lightroom but I prefer doing my work in the Raw Bridge leading into Elements with an occasional visit into Elements.
      Peter, I would like to know what features exclusive to PS that are you relying on , or could you get the same results using Elements with a few plug-ins.

  14. Peter Pal says

    Further to my previous post, which was my first post ever to any forum, I am hoping and suggesting that Adobe will be allowing further plugin application to CS6. If they do or do not, it will clarify their intentions and consideration for past users and supporters, and certainly their real consideration for “Creative” persons.

    Specifically, will a plugin developer/creator in future be allowed to make a plugin for CS6 that, for instance, deals with promoted the anti-shake, anti-blur or whatever it is called feature, or for the promoted advanced integration of the Camera Raw or other Raw conversion software, or for any other existing or future enhancement/plugin within CS6? If Adobe does not allow for such future plugin development for CS6, their consideration and respect for past users will be clear. If they do allow for it, there is a great and welcome alternative in future for plugin developers and users of CS6.

    Time will tell all…..

  15. Fred Ross says

    Even if it were $5.00 a month I will not use anything on a cloud. I have clients that don’t want their things I work on, out on a cloud. One thing that makes me attractive to some clients is I can offer them the ultimate in security. Nothing leaves my private network or gets in without my being in total control, it is only on-line for upgrades.

    • Roger says

      What are you talking about? With this Adobe software you will still be able to store your files wherever you wish such as on your own computers where the software is running (only the Adobe software need be downloaded on the Internet). You will have the option through the software of storing images on a remote computer system managed by Adobe (e.g. in the cloud). But you can store files in cloud now, with or without Adobe.

      The issue is ultimately about Adobe switching to a “lease” versus “buy” sales model for their software suite which includes CS6. This is very typical of software sold in the corporate world although it is becoming more common in the comsumer market also. Adobe probably thinks that their primary income generating customers of the CS Suite software are businesses amenable to this new sales model. Elements and Lightroom will still be sold separately (i.e. not on subscription) and are probably considered to be more for the consumer market.

  16. Thomas Baker says

    I currently own and use Adobe CS5 and Lightroom 3. They are not mystical, magical things… just tools. The best tools I grant y0u, but just tools all the same. I would not for a moment consider renting a pen or pencil to write with, a saw to cut wood with, a vacuum cleaner to clean my carpets with or a brush to paint with. In the same vein I would not consider renting software (for that is what it boils down to) whatever the price. I’ve worked hard for my money and I want my money to work hard for me. so I suppose this is the parting of the ways as far as Adobe CS goes, but mind you, I could probably get along with Adobe Elements as long as Adobe keep upgrading it.

  17. Leo says

    Cloud is another word for external server. Nothing new under the sun. There are much cheaper options to save your work on a external server if you want that. For some people that that can be helpful.

    I am sure that the day Adobe CC hits the market, pirates would already found away around it. Storing your files in the cloud (the Adobe external server) will be impossible, but who wants that anyway.

    “Photoshop CC will run on your computer just like Photoshop CS3, CS4, CS5 and CS6 did. Once per month, the computer connects with Adobe’s servers to validate the subscription. If it doesn’t validate, the software goes into trial mode. You then have 30-days to straighten things out.”

    Looks to me you do not have to be a rocket scientist to work your way around that.

  18. Ashok SenGupta, PhD says

    This discussion is predicated on the assumption that Adobe Photoshop is the only way to go, and right now it is, for most people. But that can change. The “market” is the most powerful force of all. It makes and breaks corporations. It creates and destroys opportunities.

    In one swift step, Adobe has created a terrific opportunity for another company to step in.

    That company would make a Photoshop replacement. All upgrades, even major ones, would be free of charge. The money that would have gone into a bloated advertising budget would go directly towards giving customers value: low prices, fast support, and free updates.

    How could such a company sell their product at low prices and give so many free updates? This is how: they would rely on satisfied customers as their primary form of advertisement. Because they would place their money into giving their customers more value rather than buying ad space, many would happily spread the word.

    Utopian pipe-dream, you say. No, I copied the the two previous paragraphs almost word-for-word from the website of a company owned by a hot-shot genius computer programmer by the name of Dr Albert Yang. That company is Topaz. Their products work flawlessly.

    Do it, Dr Yang, do it. We know that if anyone can, it is you. And you’re almost there already. I will pay you $500 for your Photoshop replacement with continuous upgrades until your next major revision comes out.

  19. says

    Are you kidding? I don’t care HOW much money I have, or WHAT the tax break might be – I’m not buying into a system that allows a vendor to perpetually keep his hand in my wallet. It ain’t happening, not now, not ever. It’s greed, pure and simple; the same kind of bald-faced greed that led Adobe to price the software at a point that led more people to steal it instead of buy it.

    All I see here is a way to drive away the diminishing numbers of legitimate customers they did have, and open the door for a more customer-service oriented competitor to take over.

    Adobe makes the best photo-editing software for sure – it’s the one reason I have always scrimped and saved to keep up with each new release. I won’t be doing it again.

  20. Greg Henry says

    I’m not a full time “working pro”, so therefore, while the monthly fees for Photoshop seem reasonable to some, for myself, being one of those who upgraded every-other version, this effectively adds up to a measurable increase in my own wallet.

    My main complaint however, is not the money – it’s the subscription model, itself. The whole, “You must pay every month or else and there are no other options”, bit leaves a very sour taste. I would rather that they simply had raised the upgrade price from $199 to $249 and still allowed DVD sales of the software. There are just too many what-ifs in many minds when you leave it at subscription only with no other options.

    Other companies are watching Adobe play their hand, and these companies will start playing their cards now to test the game. Microsoft is already experimenting with a subscription Office suite, and rumors have said that Intuit has toyed with the idea of forcing it’s Quickbooks users into a subscription format as well. Once the first company is successful in doing this on a large scale with major software, then many, many, others will follow. It is for this reason that Adobe customers should demand choices – a Creative Cloud option of course, along WITH a yearly or biyearly purchase option as well. Unless the idea of renting all of your software one day sounds appealing to everyone, and saying it’s the “wave of the future” isn’t enough to cut it for me.

    Corel and a small handful of other players in this particular market have an extremely good opportunity here – if they are smart, they will bring in more staff, beef up their offerings, and step up with an equal (or better) product to take customers. Corel recently made a statement on their web site regarding Adobe’s decision, but it takes more than a statement, so let’s hope they can make a dent.

    • James Parker says

      Even the URL has the word cfusion in it. What’s not cfusing is the rip-off price in the UK. £70 a month for month to month membership. That’s 107 dollars a month. Something very wrong there. I used to work for a games company producing a very popular MMO. They learned the hard way what happens when you piss off your customers where pricing is concerned. There were some pretty rapid U-turns, red faces., and a few rolling heads.

  21. Jack says

    The thing that Adobe is forgetting is that it’s not for me to prove loyalty to them by giving them a constant stream of money — it’s for Adobe to prove their loyalty to *me.* Adobe has to prove to me that they have a new and improved product worthy of my hard earned salary.

    “Once the first company is successful in doing this on a large scale with major software, then many, many, others will follow.”

    Absolutely. And I fear for the day that I have to subscribe to my Mac OS.

  22. Darren Kelly says

    The biggest beneficiary of Apple’s mistake in 2011 when they introduced FCP X was adobe. If you didn’t use Adobe then, you certainly did when Apple made their arrogant move.

    Last year when the subscription was announced, I debated purchasing the upgrade to CS6, or doing the subscription. They KEY REASON I switched to the subscription was the promise that subscription based customers would get upgrades sooner.

    In the 12 months I have been a subscriber, I cannot think of a single upgrade that was given to subscribers. Adobe will tell you they put Lightroom into the package. Big deal. I owned it already. A year ago, the showed the same new features they are showing now. Namely the antishake filter and the line straightening filter. In 12 months, they are still just promises.

    I purchased the upgrade from 5.5 to CS6 yesterday. I cancelled my subscription. This means I spent $$700 on CS 6 if you combine the 11 months at $30, and the $375.00 one time purchase.

    I’m already exploring other software packages like Corel and Avid. If my extensive collection of plug ins work, I suspect in about a year or two, I’ll move. I’ll most likely move to Avid for video editing after I complete my current project in Adobe Premiere.

    Over the 20 years I have used adobe products, I have spent tens of thousands of $ with Adobe, That ended yesterday.

    This is a company who have sent their coding and customer service off shore. They are clearly working only for investors and shareholders. They have forgotten their customer base. This is not an uncommon phenomenon, but I have yet to see a company succeed long term forgetting to dance with the girl they brought to the dance.

    Bye Adobe.

  23. Douglas J. Louden says

    I just looked at my bookcase. I have Adobe books and software back of CS2, Lightroom from inception. Adobe has climbed to the top of the heap on all our backs with our bucks. They haven’t said much about Lightroom except that LR5 will still be perpetual software. Their onerous policy can only be a short way off for Lightroom as well.

    Lightroom’s workflow serves most of my needs, but I don’t want to continue to commit to Lightroom if suddenly we become faced with a similar marketing scheme. And as I enter my golden years with a smaller pocketbook to boot, I’ll welcome suggestions for a direction to move other than with Adobe products.

  24. Rod Martin says

    This is bull crap I have owned photoshop since the beginning and I love it and upgrade every time they have a new Ver, but this is totally unacceptable to obligate everybody to keep paying or else, no more PS specially to people that makes no money from Photography and all we do is spend more, new cameras, new gadgets, new learning curves and we are the ones that get punished for it.
    Every day it seams we have to fight people from getting their hand in our pockets.

    • Ed Mease says

      That my friend is exactly what this is about and why Adobes customer base is so upset. We are in a constant battle to keep as much of our hard earned money as possible. From government politicians to big corporations they all slyly try to take your cash.


  25. Rich says

    I have used PS since v2.5. I have sunk a lot of money into Adobe though the years. I will only purchase LR from now on…until they make it subscription only. I will use the version that I have right now till hell freezes or or I die…whichever comes first (any guesses? ; )…. I am 66 and about to retire. There is no room in the budget for CC. They won’t fold without me but perhaps me and many many others will put a dent in their income. Whatever!! Good luck to them.

  26. Jim Slater says

    I too, am hitting the 72 mark this year, so I understand what you guys are saying. My income is Social Security and a part-time job in retail. Photography is not where I earn my money – it is where I spend some of my excess cash. With expenses in all areas on the rise, I felt that I would probably just stay with CS6. Now Adobe has made my mind up for me. No Creative Cloud. CS6 and Elements forever!

    I just changed camera systems and as long as what I have in software will work with my RAW files, I am all set. If I have to get new cameras in the future, I will just shoot JPEG as some of the members in my camera club do.

    I think Adobe is missing the point. CC might be fine for big companies and pro photographers who can write off the “rental” fees, but hobbyists cannot do that. Adobe needs to increase the capabilities of Elements and call it Photoshop Lite. They could raise the price to, say $125-$150 and have a 18 month upgrade cycle at $50.00. I would go for that before I would rent CC.

    • Bengt Nyman says

      Hi Jim,
      I agree with you.
      I do have a question for you:
      What CS features do you feel are missing from Elements 11 to make PSE adequate for your work ?
      The reason I ask is because providers of PSE compatible plug-ins are constantly working to complete the PSE toolbox.

      • Jim Slater says

        I want all the features in Camera Raw to be available in Elements as I do a lot of adjustments in ACR before opening in Photoshop or Elements. I use ACR with JPEG files as well as RAW files.

        I don’t like the organizer in Elements and prefer Bridge for organization of images. I do not have Elements 11; I still use 10. I upgrade Elements every 2-3 years. Two members of my camera club teach PS and PSE and that is their recommendation. When PSE 12 comes out this fall I will get it and reserve any future comments on the differences between PS and PSE at that time.

        I use PSE for some of the features that are not in PS. I don’t use plug-ins and I don’t care for the HDR Grunge look that so many of my club members use in their competition images.

  27. Tom Chmara says

    I agree with a couple of the posters here: what Adobe has done is chosen to focus on the professional community, who can more-readily incorporate a ‘lease’ model into their business operations than a large periodic investment – and effectively to leave the semi-pro and avid amateur market to competitors. It’s an interesting decision, especially these days as dSLR cameras have entered the mainstream – I guess they hope Elements and Lightroom will hold the fort – and they may.

    But whereas there’s really been a dearth of viable alternatives (open-source and commercial) in the face of a very impressive product suite… now maybe there’s room, once more, for someone wanting to offer a viable alternative.

    I *can* pay the $20/mo – even the $50/mo – but I won’t. Mind you, for me it’s an easy decision: I upgraded from CS2 to CS6 last year because of the ‘move or die’ license ultimatum Adobe offered at that time. CS6 has way more functionality than I can handle these days – practically speaking Elements is probably more what I can handle, but I like some of the flexibility that you’d have to game Elements to achieve. But unless/until the bits rot and fall off, CS6 should last me for a while.


  28. Pg says

    Guess that we are going backward to “old fashioned” period by hand drawing to save our works than saving in the cloud where there is no back up. The chance that once you don’t use adobe cloud, they steal your work! Taking digital camera and be creative without using photoshop is like going back to film photographer where we had to challenge it. Using our hand works and scan them up to save our works. I think adobe is going to lose us as customer big time. I don’t get why adobe have hard time trust us with priacy issues. Why did they provided us a key USB with a serial number that protect their software instead of copying off the software in the first place? Archicad is smart to do that when they used key USB. So adobe should have done that. I complete disagreed with adobe cloud and it makes me keep my old adobe software and using my old window as long as I can because I hate window surface or newer version as well. This is such a disappointment and we need to encourage young people to not use those subscription because it is a huge wasting of money. We are in a debt country!

  29. RTF says

    I use both LR and Aperture. Just decided (finally) to use LR exclusively. About face! As an amateur I am outraged. To think that if I fall on bad time I could loose it all is insane. I believe LR to be a superior product to Aperture and my editor is Elements. Neither program is worth a damn if you can’t access your projects. How elitist can you be. Bye!

  30. PeteGould says

    So Eric – here’s yet another perspective on this subject (similar to most of the others in most respects):

    I’m not a photographer. I own a video production company. I’ve been in the business for over 30 years. I’ve worked with computers since I was building them from kits when they were an electronic hobbiest’s item in the late 1970s. It’s fair to say that I’ve been around.

    The use of the Adobe suite in video is much more complex than in photography. Video projects are often complex webs of files with a Premiere project incorporating nested AfterEffects and Audition projects as well as layered Photoshop and Illustrator files (with the ability to independently animate the layers). Such a web of files cannot be migrated out of Adobe; hence, a company like mine that creates such projects for clients who may want to come back and tweak something six months or a year or even three years later is bound much more tightly to Adobe than you may be. Consider that as you read on…

    The role of a publicly held company is different from that of a privately-held entrepreneurial form. The entrepreneur who starts up a business can do what he likes (as long as it generates sufficient profit to keep him going). The publicly held company serves one purpose: increasing shareholder wealth. It does this or it dies, since shareholders bail and buy other stocks if a company fails to show ever-increasing profits. Anything else a publicly-held company does it does in service of this ultimate goal, whether it’s creating a new product, adding features to an existing product, advertising, training, WHATEVER: if it does not ultimately enhance the goal of increasing shareholder wealth it should and will be abandoned.

    There’s nothing wrong with this and I’m not denigrating companies for doing it. I am merely pointing out that they do. I own plenty of stock in a number of companies and I myself would bail on them if they were not profitable.

    But with that said there are competing interests at work, and in the packaged software business these competing interests exist in a balance. The customer’s interest is to get fabulous new features at a killer price. The company’s interest is to pay as little for development as possible and to charge as much as they can. As these competing interests negotiate their usual dance, everyone is ultimately served: the company is forced to innovate and spend more than it would like (remember that innovating costs money and therefore reduces profit). The customer, impressed with the new features, pays a fair price for them so the company (IF it innovates well and IF its price is a fair one) can make a profit and keep its shareholders happy. Charge too much and nobody buys. Release a ho-hum upgrade with few or uninteresting features and nobody buys. So there is pressure on BOTH parties: the company to keep innovating and the customer to keep paying.

    What the CC approach does is to profoundly upset this balance by removing the customer’s power not to buy (i.e., to keep using the immediately-preceding version for which they previously paid, without paying for the new overpriced or ho-hum upgrade). Over time, this risks a situation in which the company loses the incentive to innovate. Remember, at the moment Adobe pretty much owns the market, so in coming up with new upgrade features it is largely competing with itself. In a software rental marketplace, Adobe then can sit on its laurels and collect the rents without having to do much else UNLESS a competitor arises that poses a threat. And even then, Adobe can simply buy them as it did with Macromedia, Serious Magic, CoSa and 60+ other companies over the course of its existence.

    It can also raise the rent to what the market, overall, will bear. Nearly two years ago, Adobe surveyed my company about the CC concept. The monthly fee they floated wasn’t $50. It was $150.

    So my concern about a CC-only world is one in which Adobe decides this product line is mature and doesn’t need a whole lot of innovating and charges a monthly fee starting at $50 and ramping up over a few years to $150 (adjusted upward for inflation). I don’t think that’s good for anybody – not the customers, not the marketplace overall and not even for Adobe. Meanwhile, if Adobe finds that this approach is acceptable, others are watching. Imagine a world in which you pay a monthly fee for Windows or Mac OS, a monthly fee for Adobe, individual monthly fees for every plugins package you own, a monthly fee for QuickBooks to run your business. Why stop there? There’s nothing to say that music and movie companies couldn’t go the same route. There’s nothing in theory to stop the elimination of BluRay discs and downloadable files. Instead of downloading music from iTunes you could have to pay a monthly fee for every music cut or every movie file you’d like to be able to watch. Yes, it’s absurdist to take this to its logical conclusion but that’s because the idea itself is absurd.

    I would be much less concerned if Adobe incorporated your idea of allowing a subscriber who has continued their subscription for, say, a year, to have permanent access to the version for which, in effect, they have fully paid. But I don’t expect Adobe to do that – precisely BECAUSE I believe their motivation is to slow innovation (which reduces costs) and collect steadily increasing rents. If that is their goal, allowing any such thing runs directly against their best interests.

    • says

      You have valid concerns Pete; however, I think the competition points are less of an issue on the video software side of things. Adobe HAS to keep innovating with video software and it HAS to be priced competitively.

      Just look at what has happened in the past 3 years in the video post-production market: FCP 7 dies, FPC X was introduced, Adobe rises, Avid drops prices absurdly low (for Avid), FCP X starts to grow up. And, Autodesk Smoke gets a reasonable prices tag and becomes more user-friendly. Not to mention options like Lightworks and Novacut.

      There are so many opportunities for software companies to totally and completely shake up the NLE market. If Adobe rests on its heels, in another 3 years, it could be completely rooted out of the market. Again, I think Adobe has to keep innovating and developing…

      Unlike Photoshop, Premiere Pro is not the 800lb gorilla – although it has grown wildly in the past 3 years. There are still serious players waiting for Adobe to misstep and will jump at the chance to take Adobe’s place.

      If Creative Cloud isn’t the right move for you (or anyone else), I’d suggest hanging out with Production Premium CS6 and see what happens next. There are still a ton of editors working in FCP 7 – and doing awesome work…

      Personally, I think the most interesting market to see a shake up is the enthusiast photography market and those in it who have been committed to Photoshop for so many years.

      As long as there is a market of a significant number of consumers unwilling to subscribe to software, I think we’ll see other companies rise to fill any gaps that Adobe (or any other software provider) leaves open. One of the big questions remaining is how open is the gap with Photoshop when you have Photoshop Elements catering to enthusiasts. I guess we’ll find out soon enough…

  31. MarcSr says

    My photos are my photos, not Adobe’s. Even if I use their software to process and change them, they are still mine. I don’t like the cloud and most likely never will. The thought of using someone’s software and forever legally and financially tying my photographs to them and having to pay just to view or sell one of my photos is ridiculous. I have PS4 and PS5. I would have upgraded to PS6, but the price is $600 and there is no upgrade pricing. I have used Adobe since PS2. but I’m now looking for a replacement.

    • TimR says

      why cant you just use the software to edit then save your photos to your own drive or backup drive rather than leaving them up in the cloud for adobe to get their paws on it.. i know i wouldn’t leave nor trust any of my work up there, not just for adobe’s cloud, but for ALL cloud services included. I always keep all my work safe in my drives and backups.. no if’s and’s, nor but’s.. period.

  32. Todd says

    Wow! This is a very interesting topic and there are so many valid points that have been brought up both in the article and in the comments section. I do have one question and pardon me if it seems amateurish but I am just now getting to the point where I am buying my first SLR and so I am now thinking of getting some editing software as well. My question is does this change affect Lightroom as well? I found one article that said no and another that said yes. However neither one gave any solid basis for those answers. I looked online at pricing and did not see lightroom included in the Creative Suite so I am assuming they will continue this product but I am not sure. Does anyone know?

    • Douglas J. Louden says

      Todd: Adobe’s reply to my own question concerning Lightroom was that LR 5 is to be a perpetual license. Meaning that it would be available as a stand alone, not cloud based product.

      The real issue here is not LR5 but the future plans for their products. Will LR become only cloud based in the future? I’m not prepared to continue to support Adobe based on their current business model. I choose not to be held hostage so am looking now for other alternatives. What that will be is still up in the air and not the cloud.

    • Bengt Nyman says

      Hi Todd,

      Do not buy Photoshop. Not just because of the controversy but because it is in all cases overpriced and the wrong place to start.
      Also, do not start with Lightroom because it is a primarily a complement to PS and it does not do everything you are going to want to be able to do.
      Buy PS Elements 11.
      It is reasonably priced.
      It will remain your property.
      It does everything you will need for several years.
      I have used both Photoshop and Lightroom. Today I use exclusively Elements.

  33. me says

    Well here you go the death of adobe nobody i repeat nobody accept people with money will pay 50 dollars a month to keep updated. what were they thinking this will not move them ahead of the game at all back to FCP/Motion

  34. Earl says

    Ed this article mentions cracking software. Adobe themselves have said this new model in no way hinders piracy. Arrr Matie long live the pirates