BitDepth#904 - September 24

Adobe's new Creative Cloud subscription service fundamentally changes the process of buying and upgrading software for the company's professional users.
Adobe’s Cloud
Promotional artwork from Adobe for its new Creative Cloud offerings. Image courtesy Adobe.

From the moment it was announced in May this year, the new Creative Cloud model from Adobe, the creators of most of the software that designers and creatives use today, has caused some concern.

Okay, it’s been more than concern. Derek Schoffstall was so troubled by the change that
he created an online petition to get the company to reconsider the new business model that’s drawn 40,000 signatures so far.
Unfortunately, that’s far short of the million plus new customers that the company has reported for the new subscription model for software licensing that it’s moved almost all of its products to.

So what is Adobe Creative Cloud?
What it is not, is some kind of wonky web-based version of its market commanding software.

It’s all the professional tools that the company creates and maintains for its customers offered as a new software-as-a-service (SaaS) plan. And now, it’s the only way to buy the software outside of a few boxes that may still be lying around in stores.
You pay a fee that’s based on how much of the software you use, organised into the bundles that the company has traditionally created for its products, download the applications and go to work.

The fee is either paid monthly or annually and most independent calculations suggest that there are small savings to be had for users who make use of most of Adobe’s Creative Suite products.
For photographers, there didn’t seem to be any deals available for folks who just wanted to work with Adobe’s triumvirate of photographer focused tools, Bridge, Photoshop and Lightroom.

That changed earlier this month when Adobe announced a new bundle of Photoshop and Lightroom for a very agreeable introductory price of US$9.99 per month (Bridge has traditionally been bundled with Photoshop).
It’s described as a special price, available until December 31 and available to anyone owning a copy of Photoshop going all the way back to the Creative Suite 3 version.

Apart from the growing shortage of boxed editions of Photoshop CS6 and looming disappearance of Lightroom as it goes SaaS, what else does a Creative Cloud subscription buy?

For feature conscious users, the most compelling new development in this new licensing model is continuous upgrades. It’s entirely possible that Adobe may well dispense with version numbers in favour of builds in a new software development ecosystem which makes it possible to add new features once they are ready instead of waiting to issue a major, monolithic update.

Photoshop CC has already begun to pull away from CS6, the last old-school edition available, with the addition of some attractive focus and shake correction features that seem designed to lure photographers into the new cloud subscription model.
From Adobe’s perspective, it’s an important way to begin moving people from casual Internet theft and toward licensing these products. Cracked versions of Adobe’s suite have already appeared on download sites, but each feature revision gives the company an opportunity to break hacks and offer new incentives to get legal.

But what’s a photographer to do?
The whole pay to play thing raised my hackles, I have to admit, and I immediately bought upgrades to Photoshop CS6 and Lightroom 5 the instant it became clear that this was Adobe’s new direction. The company has created a page to
explain misconceptions about the model here.

The way I use image editing software, I’m in no rush to join the cloud solution, but if Adobe proves more profitable using this model, I’ll eventually have to shuffle along, shelving my software boxes next to my buggy whips and accepting the inevitability of change.
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