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Adobe to Creatives: It’s the Cloud or Nothing

Will designers and developers embrace Creative Cloud, or will they walk away? Do they really even have a choice?
Will designers and developers embrace Creative Cloud, or will they walk away? Do they really even have a choice? // Image credit: Brent Couchman,

What’s that? That’s the sound of a million designers and developers crying all at once.

Adobe recently announced that they are ending perpetual licenses on all of their software products. We’re talking Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Dreamweaver, AfterEffects, Lightroom — all of the products that creatives use to design and build websites, print materials, and videos. Starting with the next version, which is scheduled to be released on June 17, users must purchase Creative Cloud subscriptions.

With Creative Cloud, applications are downloaded and installed on your hard drive, and they only need access to the internet once per month to check that your subscription is up-to-date. Otherwise, the applications work much the same as they did in the days when your software came from a CD in a box, and you had to enter the registration key on installation. If your subscription ends, the files you’ve created with the Creative Cloud still live on your computer — you just won’t be able to open the applications to edit them.

Among the benefits of “upgrading” to the Cloud is that applications are synced to the latest updates immediately on release. This means no more falling behind on the newest tools while you wait for the right time to upgrade your license.

Sounds fairly reasonable, right?

Say it ain’t so!

Well, there are plenty of creatives who disagree. In fact, some of them have taken up a petition on to try to convince Adobe to bring perpetual licensing back.

There are currently 8.4 million customers using the Creative Suites, and 4.4 million using point products (standalone applications like Photoshop). In comparison, there are 479,000 Creative Cloud subscriptions, and Adobe estimates that will rise to 1.25 million by the close of 2013 — no doubt due in large part to the fact that there will be no other option than the Cloud.

If it all seems too soon, Adobe disagrees. It believes that since the Creative Cloud adoption went quicker than expected — Cloud has been around since CS5 — the world is ready to fully take the plunge.

The last perpetual license available is for Creative Suite 6. There will be no CS7 — Adobe is starting from scratch and the next version will be named CC.

But will I pay more?

Overall, the pricing is not that different. The subscription for Creative Cloud is $50/month. If you consider that the average Adobe Creative Suite user upgrades every three years, then the price for a CC subscription after three years is only slightly higher than a perpetual license for the same period of time would have been, and you get access to few extra applications thrown in, too.


Creative Cloud is a smart way to keep on top of Adobe’s latest offerings, but even so, I have reservations. With the old model, you had to pay a lot up front, sure, but you could drag out the upgrades as long as you wanted. This is what I used to do in college, when I needed the programs for school but money was tight. It may not have had all the bells and whistles, but an old version of CS could carry you far — and it was still 100% yours.

With the new model, however, you have to just keep on paying or you lose access to your Adobe products completely. That can be a hard thing to maintain for young, perpetually-broke creatives who are just starting out in the business.

It’s all good for Adobe, however, since a subscription format will force upgrade holdouts to pay up.

Are you a creative? Do you hate Creative Cloud, or do you love it?

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