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Adobe scraps Creative Suite software licenses in favor of cloud subscriptions

Jackie Dove | May 7, 2013
In a move that should surprise no one, Adobe announced sweeping changes to its Creative Suite software line and year-old Creative Cloud subscription service. Signaling a new focus on integrating creative services in the cloud with its professional desktop software, Adobe launched a new cloud-based Creative Suite--with a new CC moniker, for Creative Cloud. But it will look familiar. Significant upgrades to all current Creative Suite 6 apps are coming soon, but they will be available only by subscription to Creative Cloud, not traditional software licenses.

Adobe spent the last year constructing a detailed road map of its transition from a traditional software company to a collaborative, cloud-based software behemoth serving individual designers, small shops, and enterprise businesses. Adhering to that plan, it rolled out cloud-based updates to various desktop creative software packages, introduced the Web-oriented Edge suite of Tools & Services, and more.

The new lineup also includes some subscription-only desktop apps, such as Muse, plus some companion mobile apps, such as an updated Kuler color utility. It also includes the Lightroom photo management app--the only Creative Cloud offering that will continue as both a perpetual license and cloud subscription.

Why is Lightroom a special case? Because Adobe makes the distinction between professionals using software for their livelihood and enthusiasts who use it for fun.  "Lightroom is tricky because it falls in between," said Morris. "Lots of consumers use Lightroom, but it's also used by pro photographers. So we're treating it both ways."

License phase-out

With this transition, Adobe will quit selling perpetual licenses to new creative suite software packages, but will continue to support Creative Suite 6 for compatibility through the next major upgrades of both Mac and Windows operating systems. Adobe will also continue to make CS6 available as a perpetual software license for an unspecified time, and will provide bug fixes and security updates as necessary.

All CS6 suites and individual products continue to be available via download from the company's site and select retailers and volume licensing is also available through Adobe authorized resellers. However there will be no further feature development for that version. "We have no plans at this time to update CS6, but for folks who are not ready to give up their perpetual licenses, CS6 and all of its component apps will continue to be available just as they are today. For the forseeable future we have no plans to discontinue them," Morris said.

Adobe is the first company in the creative arena to go the all-cloud route--compared with peers like Autodesk, Microsoft, and Quark. "Adobe is the sole company that says this is going to be the focus for our traditional desktop tools, and is going full-on cloud," Morris says.

Cloud-only features

Adobe offers a number of features with its cloud subscription, such as Sync Fonts, Sync Colors, and Sync Settings, online collaboration, 20GB of cloud storage, Behance, and new training resources that link its cloud services.

With Creative Cloud, Adobe has gone to great lengths to open its software shelf for new users and to introduce new software to larger groups. At one time, it would have been impossible--short of spending hundreds of dollars or camping out at a friend or colleague's desk--to learn InDesign or Illustrator if you did not own it. With a Creative Cloud subscription, you can download any software package you want. As long as you subscribe, you have the software, which gets updated with new fixes and features automatically. It's no surprise that Creative Cloud emphasizes the educational and collaborative aspects of the subscription to build that kind of interest.


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