Creative Cloud – 7 Things That Might Make You Like It

Er Spinnt [C_073871]

I’ve had great sport taking Adobe to task for their miscues and missteps. Legions of people have been in an uproar since Adobe announced they will no longer sell perpetually licensed versions of their most popular software – Photoshop, in particular.  And while I still think that for the hobbyist, those with miserable or expensive internet access, and those people who are far less than thrilled knowing that the plug can be pulled (or made more expensive) at the whim of Big Brother Adobe, I think it’s also worthwhile to note some aspects of Creative Cloud that don’t see much press. Things that may sway you toward the software rental model.

Much of what I write here I learned “from the horses mouth” Terry White, Adobe Evangelist, who flew to Adobe headquarters in San Jose to address the local Creative Suite User Group headed by Sally Cox.

Unfortunately since I original released this article in early June, 2013, I have discovered that 3 of the “10” benefits are either not delivered or were mis-represented. Still, there are some advantages you may not have thought about.

Some of the things you get with a Creative Cloud perpetual payment that you may not have considered include:

  1. Access to media – an online training site with some pretty great content.  This is through “Adobe.TV” and is roughly a $20/month value assuming the whole of Lynda content is available, but likely not.  It’s also not clear if the CreativeCloud access is equivalent to the Lynda normal or premium plan.  I discovered, unfortunately, the there is only paltry amount of content from available through the Cloud.  Serves me right for believing the Adobe evangelist and repeating what he said without thoroughly checking first. For example, there is a 13 hour series by Ian Robinson covering After Effects CC.  It’s on Lynda, but NOT available through Adobe.TV – and worse, what IS available appears to be a mish-mash of promotional videos and deep details on specific things.  No After Effects CC tutorial (i.e. for those just starting) seems to exist.
  2. Creative Cloud storage. 20Gb. Think Dropbox only more primitive and more featured, too! It’s more primitive in that sharing of files and folders is a bit less functional, but what is possible is optimized in a way that allows e.g. viewing and editing of your Cloud content from iPhones, iPads and similar devices as well as allowing browsers to see layers in a layered document.  A “coming soon” application will allow syncing files between your desktop and the cloud.  Approximate value $2/month (DropBox charges $8/mo for the 100Gb plan)
  3. Behance – I don’t get why this is such a great thing, but it’s a sharing site for creatives.  Think 500px or Flickr or Pinterest with a few features specific to attracting attention.  Approximate value ~ unclear there is no cost listed.  But it does look like another way to get “liked” and perhaps attract some business and it’s easy to share to Behance.
  4. 5 free websites. They must be on “Business Catalyst” – you’re not going to plop down a WordPress site there, but apparently it’s viable for many purposes including commerce. Approximate value $5/month – the going rate for economy webhosting. I see both praise and horror stories regarding Business Catalyst which tells me it’s about equal to other offerings.
  5. “All photoshop settings upgrade over the web” – That’s what Terry said, though I know this is far, far from accurate unless what you mean is “color palettes and brushes”. Actions and scripts don’t synchronize, for example.  Still, anything that helps keep two configurations up to date is an improvement. Approximate value… not clear, but could be time saved.
  6. More than two installations. This isn’t the official policy, but the strong hint was “if you’re not using more than two at a time you can have as many installations as you want.”  For the permanent license, 5 installs was all that is allowed before you have to “invalidate” licenses.  You’re still going to have to double pay if you use more than two systems at a time.  Approximate value – potentially significant because you can install on both a Mac and a PC. The perpetual plan allowed 5 installs.
  7. 99 days of off-net usage under the annual plan. I suspect there are many ways for this to blow up and lock down unexpectedly, but I’ll give Adobe the benefit of the doubt until proven guilty. No additional value here.
  8. TypeKit Fonts (also called WebFonts, usable on your website). This is pretty cool – THOUSANDS of downloadable and installable fonts – if you can find the ones you’re interested in, that is – the search mechanism is pretty anemic.  The implication is that the license for these is perpetual.  Unfortunately it is listed as “coming soon” not available now in my Creative Cloud app.  Approximate value – significant, could save substantial money over font purchases, perhaps $200 a year or about $15 month.   Still undelivered after 3 months.  A beta for this apparently just started in mid August, 2013.
  9. New, continuously updated content.  This remains to be seen, of course. After all it has been a year since the last Photoshop release.
  10. Endless hours of learning patience while waiting for the behemoth packages to download.  Photoshop CC took 35 minutes to get to 35% complete, and over an hour and 10 minutes to install on my reasonably fast DSL connection.  It seemed to hang at “95% installed” for a LONG time.

The net is you may find that the Creative Cloud plan adds about $40 $20 $10/month of value beyond the obvious access to the Adobe products. Your mileage will vary of course and you have to compare against what you might have spent in your normal upgrade process on a perpetual license.

What’s not clear to me is whether the “one application only” plans include some or all of the above.  If the $9.99 first-year plan for Photoshop includes Lynda, and you want Lynda, that would be a great deal. But I’m pretty sure it doesn’t. That’s one of the frustrating things about the whole cloud business.  Nothing is well defined anywhere. For example the official Adobe FAQ doesn’t say how much storage you get with an account, and as best I can tell doesn’t mention Lynda at all.

One thing that Adobe pointed out in the discussion is that they are well aware that raising prices may cut their own throats.  It’s not clear to me that the disincentive is that much to assume that Adobe won’t become like the cable TV providers. The difference, of course, is that you probably did not build your business on the TV channels you get.

Don’t worry, if this hasn’t swayed you. We’re buying up a number of Photoshop alternatives to evaluate them and let you know where you can get photomanipulation satisfaction without fear of inclement weather from the cloud.

On the other hand, maybe realizing that the websites, fonts, and online instruction rolled into that monthly sum, may make it a bit easier to swallow.  What do you think?  Does this make the picture reasonable for you? Or are the benefits not worth the cost?

12 thoughts on “Creative Cloud – 7 Things That Might Make You Like It

  1. Todd Walker

    Thanks for this – Being that I fall under the “hobbyist” your reasons for me above to stay shy of this for now are valid. CS5 is doing the job for me currently (along with LR4). I’ll wait until the dust settles a bit…

    Thanks Steve!!

  2. Bob Taylor

    I subscribed to Adobe CC last year and took advantage of the 50% discount (seemed reasonable at the time). Unfortunately I didn’t remember that after a year the subscription automatically renewed at full price for another year (without notice). When I called to complain, I was told there was nothing they could do. So I’m stuck.

    I have downloaded several programs, including Photoshop CC and found the download and install to be very fast (I have SSD storage on my MacBook Pro laptop). The new features in PS CC (I was using PS6) are not extensive and several of my plug-ins didn’t migrate (NIK especially); however, I was able to copy them from my PS6 plug-in directory to the PS CC directory and everything seems to work fine. One interesting note is that the Advanced Stacker Plus did migrate and appears to be working properly.

    1. Steven Christenson

      Good to know that Advanced Stacker Plus migrated. I *just* installed Photoshop CC and elected to “import from CS6” haven’t checked to see if worked for me – but frankly I joined the cloud exactly so I could make sure our actions work with Cloud Releases, too. I’m also likely to dabble with After Effects.

      Finally, I’m curious, Bob what Adobe would do if you cancelled your subscription and rejoined. If you have any CS3 or later product the discount is still available. This reminds me that I must turn off the “auto renew” feature. Unfortunately, it looks like Adobe hasn’t provided a way to do that.

  3. Steven Christenson

    Bob, here is an important bit of news. If you were not notified that your renewal was pending, Adobe breached their contract with you.

    Here is a quote:
    The price is valid for a full 12 months. After that, we’ll renew your contract automatically unless you cancel. The price is subject to change, but we will always notify you beforehand.”

    As a result of your experience I had this interaction with Adobe Customer Service:

    Sharan: As I understand, you wish to stop the auto-renewal feature of the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. Is that correct?
    Steven: Correct. I do not want the subscription to “auto renew” at some unspecified price. A friend was recently burned by that.
    Sharan: Thank you for the confirmation. I’ll be glad to check and help you with that.
    Sharan: Your account is set to auto-renew so that you don’t experience any interruption in access to your product or services.
    Sharan: I am sorry to inform, we do not have the option to disable the auto-renew feature.
    Steven: Ok, then can I inform you now that I wish to cancel my membership effective May 14, 2014?
    Sharan: Please allow me a moment to check with your subscription information.
    Sharan: I see that the annual Creative Cloud membership was purchased on May 16, 2013 and the one year term ends on May 15, 2014.
    Steven: Yes, and I do not wish it to renew after that. Since I cannot turn off auto renew, I’d like to formerly end my subscription on May 14, 2014. That way I won’t have to worry about failing to cancel it, or getting “renewed” at an unaffordable price.
    Sharan: If you do not wish to continue the subscription, you need to contact us back to cancel the subscription from being charged further.
    Steven: But, my agreement is for 1 year, not beyond that. Please show me where in my contract I agreed to be charged for any subsequent year.
    Sharan: Please click here for the information on membership of Creative Cloud
    Steven: I’ve read that page many times over. Nothing indicates I cannot stop auto renewal or that I am obligated to pay for subsequent years without prior authorization.
    Sharan: Please allow me a moment.
    Sharan: Click here to review the Creative Cloud Subscription Terms
    Steven: When will I be notified? My friend got NO notification! But thanks for pointing that out… you violated your contract with him.
    Sharan: Before 2-3 days before renewal date, you will receive a notification regarding the auto renewal
    Steven: 2-3 DAYS? That’s all!? What if I’m out of town? What if my internet is broken? 2-3 MONTHS would be acceptable.
    Steven: I held on long enough to get the promised CC content. At this point if you are unable to allow me to cancel auto renewal, I would like to cancel my subscription and get a full refund. At $20 the cloud is quite reasonable. At $50 it is not. And I don’t even know what you’ll be charging then!
    Sharan: I checked and see that you will receive the email notification before the 12 month renewal.
    Sharan: However, we cannot assure when exactly you will receive the email confirmation.

    1. Ian Mills

      Wow – that’s an eye opener !! So in the end, did they allow you to cancel? You asked to cancel, and she said you need to contact them back to cancel? Did she mean you need to cancel on the last day of your 1 year term – this is damn disturbing – I’ve signed up on the educational plan but don’t want it to be perpetual ..

      1. Ian Mills

        OK, it’s a bit clearer to me now – I’m signed up to a monthly subscription – I can see on my Adobe account that I can cancel this subscription via a link – If I cancel it now I won’t be charged next month – it sort of makes sense to make it auto-renewable else I’d have to go in every month and pay for it manually.

        If you have an annual plan, if you click that cancel button on your account, I’m not sure if you can still access updates etc during your 1 year period – the details Adobe provide are pretty vague ..

      2. Steven Christenson

        I had to go to a meeting. After waiting 20 minutes for “customer chat” and then getting several wrong answers it used up all my time. It appears I have to “notify them on the last day” (or prior to it) to cancel. I only hope a lot more people have that conversation with them to let them know “auto renewal” at an unknown price is NOT acceptable.

  4. JC

    When will someone take Adobe to court in a class action and finally put a stop this madness?

    They have no right to remove access to your working files and intellectual property, but they do if you stop paying Adobe’s rent, and now it seems they can increase your payments arbitrarily and without notice and still keep tapping directly into your bank account, without your permission.

    There are going to be people out there, who even when they have passed away, Adobe will still keep taking their pound of flesh and automatically signing them up for year after year and increase after increase.

    This really has got to be stopped!

  5. Bob Taylor


    Your conversation with Adobe is similar to mine. I did check “My Account” and found a tab that relates to canceling my subscription. This is what the tab reveals…

    “If you cancel your plan, you will lose access to certain features of your Creative Cloud membership, including certain applications, a higher level of services, and additional cloud storage. At the end of your current paid month, July 11, 2013, your membership will revert to a free membership, and you’ll be billed 50% of your remaining contract obligation, as outlined in our billing terms. Memberships canceled within the first 30 days after purchase will be fully refunded by contacting Customer Support. To cancel your plan, please contact Customer Support.”

    I have marked my calendar to consider canceling my subscription at the end of the current annual plan. Time will tell if the new bundle is worth the $50 per month.


    1. Todd Walker

      I’m not a CC subscriber, as a matter of fact since CS5 I really haven’t found a reason to switch (if it’s not broken don’t fix!), but everyone’s comments here really make me skeptical on going to CC. Anyone listen or subscribe to Sirius/XM Radio? It’s the same joke…$20/month and your card then gets “automatically” billed after the 12th month. They word it as a “convenience” for you so you don’t suddenly get your radio turned of unexpectedly. This sounds like the same thing.

      Sad, really is, just because I love their product…they’re just adding a bad ingredient to it.


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