It seems like Adobe’s “Creative Cloud” offering is an attractive solution for those who would like to avail themselves of some of the powerful tools Adobe offers. Except for the sharp pokes in the eye you may experience. You can read below the explication of my cynicism, but before that, let me point out some things you may already know.
The Adobe Creative Cloud solution means you pay a monthly cost. For that monthly cost you get the privilege of using any software that Adobe decides to put into its “Creative Cloud”. As a photographer the two most obvious gotta have items are Photoshop CS6 and Lightroom 4.
If you already have a licensed product the currently offered Creative Cloud monthly rate is $29.99. Multiply that by 12 ($360) and you can see that you’re going to spend about twice what it would cost you to make annual upgrades ($200 for Photoshop CS5 to CS6). The total seems like a negative until you realize it also means you can install and use all those other Cloud applications like Premiere, Illustrator, After Effects, Dreamweaver. Adobe also offers a “single product” Cloud License at $240/year. But that doesn’t make sense if you’re only interested in bumping up your Photoshop – unless it’s the Extended version which costs more to upgrade annually ($400).
The Creative Cloud monthly arrangement is good for Adobe, of course, because they produce a nice predictable revenue stream – which in turn is good for us because it keeps their people employed and working toward bigger and better things.
The Great Cloud
Effectively you can test drive ANYTHING Adobe has added to the cloud for a few months (not just 30 days). And if you like it, keep paying and keep using it. If you read the Adobe FAQ and BLOGs and web pages you will notice Adobe touts all kinds of benefits, but if you are Photoshop and Lightroom only kind of user most of the pluses do not amount to any significant dollar savings to you. And let’s be honest, sometimes upgrades and fixes do more harm than good.
Why I Am Not (Yet) A Believer
I’ve been burned and inconvenienced several times in the past trying to upgrade, uninstall and reinstall Adobe products (Photoshop CS2, 3 and 5). While the latest versions of software seem more reliable, a quick read of the Adobe Forums reveals that there are a number of show stopping issues with Creative Cloud that go beyond mere cynicism.
- Creative Cloud wants to periodically check to be sure you still have a valid license – and the internet is needed for that however:
- Adobe has had bouts of “degraded performance” (which translated means you can’t do ‘nuthin). The most recent example was Tuesday, September 25, 2012.
- If the license check happens to fall on the first day of your two-week hiatus from the internet your ability to use the software comes to a SCREECHING halt on the 7th day. God rested on the seventh day but Adobe software becomes catatonic. When the clock runs out the grace runs out too. You get DEAD lifeless software. Some users have reported how embarrassing it has been for them to fire up their software at a customer site only to be humiliated by a “license out of date” window.
<EDITORIALIZING: What the heck is Adobe smoking? If they had sense – and I’m sure some of them do, they’d fall back to a 30 day trial or just outright allow 30 days of grace not a week>
- Apparently there have been significant interactions between fully licensed software and Cloud licensed software. With a normal (perpetually) licensed PS5 and a Cloud Licensed PS6 whenever you use PS5, your PS6 license goes into trial mode. There seems to be a fix for this, but the fix doesn’t seem to be working for everyone.
- Adobe doesn’t publish their bugs. It’s only when you install X with Y that you’ll discover for yourself the daunting problem that these two things create unless you relentlessly scan the internet. Bugs happen. Adobe seems to hope you don’t find out about a bug until it happens to you personally.
- Adobe says in their FAQ that under Creative Cloud you have one year to upgrade to the latest release but does not make it clear what happens if you do not. I presume the old version just stops working, which might be unfortunate if a feature you rely on is removed in a later version. You may find yourself S.O.L. (sorry out of luck).
- Adobe is unclear about how much “patch and fix” control you can exert. I’m one of those people who does not install the latest iPhone software until a month has passed. The headaches and hardships of the early adopters have saved me from wasting a lot of my own time.
- All this wonderful software has to be downloaded. And it’s huge. LOTS of bandwidth used.
- Using Beta versions before installing Cloud software has known problems.
- If, heaven forbid, Adobe does go belly up all that great software also goes up in smoke in 30 days or less.
- Adobe can raise the price when they wish and as much as they like.
- If you decide the Cloud is raining on your wallet and opt out, you either have to stop using those tools or fork over full license costs for what you continue to use. It’s not a rent to own deal, here.
- Cloud will aggressively enforce the “two install” maximum. If you install Cloud Applications on more than two machines Adobe wants you to pay multiple licenses.
Bottom line for me right now: I am afraid to load the free trial. The last time I went with an Adobe free trial I spent several DAYS researching, uninstalling, and reinstalling due to the problems that resulted.
What do you think? Does the cloud make sense for you? I doubt Adobe is going to read this blog, but if they did, do you have a (family friendly) comment/suggestion or complaint for them?
NOTE: The terms Adobe, Creative Cloud and others are trademarked names.