Like many, I was disappointed to learn of Adobe’s decision to eliminate perpetual licensing for its (now former) Creative Suite applications. Certainly, this is not all bad news, especially for those who routinely use multiple products and may benefit from the new pricing model. For me, and many photographers, though, who primarily use just one application (Photoshop, or Photoshop and Lightroom, which is not part of the Creative Suite), the Creative Cloud model spells a significant hike in costs. And, for those who opt to skip a version or two, when no significant improvement in features is introduced, the cost difference is far more substantial.
A few myths need to be dispelled: using the Cloud does not require one to have a live Internet connection to Adobe. The applications are still installed locally, but need to verify a valid license once a month or so to continue working. Also, there is no requirement to store files on the Cloud, so they can remain on a local drive.
Michael Reichmann at the Luminous Landscape posted an excellent summary of the new Creative Cloud, that I don’t need to repeat, however a few points are worth mentioning: once upgrading to the Creative Cloud, there is no going back to standalone (perpetually licensed) versions. This means that, whatever your thoughts are on current licensing and promotional costs, once you make the commitment, Adobe is free to change its costs and terms later, which you will have to pay to continue using the software.
Like Michael Reichmann, I also plan to take a wait-and-see approach. Photoshop CS6 meets my needs for the foreseeable future; all my cameras are supported by the current versions of Camera RAW (and even if not, Lightroom will remain a perpetually-licensable product). I did not see anything in the new Photoshop CC that I consider a “must have”. So, for the time being, I don’t have to make a decision.
A better question is what Adobe will do regarding the many single-application users who are clearly unhappy with the new model. Obviously, going back to perpetual licensing will be nice, though the sense I have is that Adobe has too much invested in the new order and, with no obvious competition, doesn’t have much incentive to go back. Alternatively, I hope that Adobe will offer more reasonable pricing for Photoshop-only users. If the monthly cost was closer to $10-15, and rates could be pre-paid for a couple of years to allay fears of steep price hikes, I think that most of us will have no problem paying it, and Adobe likely will even pick up a significant number of new customers who balked at Photoshop’s licensing price in the past, making up for any potential lost revenue. I hope someone at Adobe is listening.