BitDepth#868 - January 15

In a bizarre online error, Adobe inadvertently offers public access to its seven year old CS2 suite.
The CS2 suite is free?
Like this? Cast your mind back to 2005 and read on.

The graphics and photography world was abuzz last week about news that Adobe was offering all of the software once sold as the Creative Suite, version two for free.
To be sure,
there’s a web page on which you can find downloads of all the products that Adobe was selling for thousands of US dollars just seven years ago, each with an accompanying serial number (your original serial won’t work anymore if you try to reinstall).

It’s possible that this link won’t work by the time you read this, but if you do, then it probably means that Adobe has made some decisions about what to do with a version of its products that nobody is likely to buy anymore.
According to Adobe, this page exists because they have decided to shut down the activation servers that this software needs to run after a new installation. You can read the company’s full statement on the issue

Activation first reared its ugly head around nine years ago as a way to complicate piracy of software.
What it actually amounted to was an annoyance for legitimate owners of such software. Popular products like Microsoft’s Office, Adobe’s suite and Filemaker Pro forced users of their products contact the software mothership to turn them on.

Mostly, it was a process that just worked. You installed the software, allowed it to connect to the activation servers and proceeded happily along.
But problems also arose. Cloned software installations often woke up on new computers and demanded to reconnect to verify their legitimacy.

Many products set limits on the number of activations that were allowed, so users who upgraded hardware frequently and forgot to deactivate before migrating their data, would have to make costly toll-free but not toll-free (as local phone companies put it) calls to sort everything out.
The only people who weren’t troubled by any of this were the committed pirates that the companies were trying so hard to lock out, who had long cracked the software and skipped the whole activation song and dance.

As time goes by, things fall apart (that’s my quota of clichés for this column), and instead of paying to keep old software and hardware running for obsolete products, Adobe issued versions that didn’t need to connect online.
According to the company, you should only be able to access and download these alternate versions of these products if you have an official Adobe ID and a license for the product you are replacing.
The whole process was poorly handled. If you own one product, you have access to (and accompanying serial numbers for) all of them.

This is all ancient software though, and some products may not work at all on current hardware. Mac users in particular won’t be able to use these apps, which are all written in Power PC native code, on any recent computers.
So what’s likely to be the result of all this? Adobe’s online gaffe will, I suspect, work in their favour. Anyone who has been curious about any of these products now has a chance to try an earlier, but still capable version if their system can run it.

If the company is smart, they will simply acknowledge that they have released CS2 into the wild and seek to build a relationship with all the people who have grabbed this digital bounty.
Adobe has a chance to turn a mistake into a marketing masterstroke, but it isn’t clear that the company has the new age savvy or the corporate will to ride the tidal wave of interest that it’s inadvertently started.
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