Take a deep breath, folks, we’re diving in. So, those in the know in the Adobe community have had since Monday to take in, absorb, contemplate and overall, basically overreact to the news Adobe announced at the MAX Creativity Conference. The biggest problem with the overreactions is how quickly it leads to misinformation. All week, I’ve seen a lot of misinformation being spread, and since I’m not the expert source of information myself, I decided to gather as much of it as I could find here. When I want to know something, I go directly to the source and directly to the real experts. Feel free to follow the links I’ll be discussing below to learn as much as you would like about the changes and their impact yourself.

I first read about the "subscription only" update from one of my favorite Photoshop and Wacom gurus, digital artist (and unknowing mentor), Patrick LaMontagne. Among the many comments on his page and that I would continue to see this week is that now we can only rent the software, comparing it to renting (vs buying) a car. Not sure how I feel about that term, but it’s mostly accurate in that if you stop paying, you lose both the car and the software. As for me, the announcement didn’t have as much impact, since I’d had several months last year to decide which, if any, upgrade to go for before they removed that option for anyone not on CS5, and I decided to go with the subscription back in December. (With the announcement, Adobe has extended the upgrade discount from versions as old as CS3 to the annual subscription so anyone else considering the same thing I did in December will still get a discounted rate of $29.99/month for the full suite. The upgrade discount to the boxed version of CS6 is no longer available.)

I’d like to make a few observations and also, hopefully, help clear up some of the misinformation I’m seeing floating around. MOST, if not all, of the misinformation is answered in Scott Kelby’s Q&A on his website, which received rather harsh criticism as if he were Adobe himself. Before I send you there to read it, I want to make it clear, Scott does NOT work for Adobe, he is not an Adobe representative, and Adobe’s changes affect his business as much, if not more, than everyone else out there. It’s not like he can take the 70,000 members of his association and say "We’re now the National Association of Gimp Professionals". If you read the Q&A or watch the Grid video, please do thank Scott for his time and effort in helping the rest of us understand Adobe’s changes.

Misinformation vs Facts

1. Misinformation: Adobe’s Creative Cloud means I can only use Photoshop (or other programs) in a browser or online.
Fact: Untrue. You download the programs FROM the Creative Cloud to your computer and work with them as you normally would. I’ve been using the term "subscription" rather than "cloud" to help people understand that the programs themselves are not browser based.

2. Misinformation: Adobe CS6 will continue to be sold and CS7 will be available as a boxed version.
Fact: Yes, and no. CS6 will continue to be sold and supported… until it’s not. I haven’t seen a cutoff date for when they will stop boxed version sales of any of the CS6 products, but it will likely coincide with or very soon after the release of the subscription only Adobe CC. Adobe made it very clear in the keynote at the MAX conference that they will NOT offer a boxed version for future updates of Photoshop or the "suite" of products. Creative Suite (CS) is being replaced with Creative Cloud (CC), which will be officially released on June 17, 2013. CS6 boxed versions will NOT get feature updates beyond what was already in CS6 when it was first released. As Scott points out in his Q&A, that hasn’t changed since Adobe launched. If you want new features, you always have to upgrade to the newer version, just as older versions are no longer available for sale. In this case, the new version will be Creative Cloud (subscription-based pricing) only.

3. Misinformation: "I have to be online every day to keep my subscription account active."
Facts: No. Again, this is clarified in Scott’s Q&A, though in my research back in December, I saw directly where this came from. Some people with the monthly subscription appeared to have it deactivated if they were offline during the week that Adobe’s programs check if your account is active. These people had to contact customer service and it took time to get the programs synced and running again. According to the Q&A (and this is news to me, as well): "annual subscribers can actually be off-line for up to 99 days straight and it still keep their subscription active… [and] for monthly subscribers, I think you can be offline for around 37 days”. The misinformation here comes from one fact that seems to still be true (at least from my account, so far): You don’t know when your programs will run a check on your account to see if it’s up-to-date. A very simple fix for that would be to have a set date on your account (your billing date, for example) so you know when the check will occur. I’ve found nothing like that on my account so far.

4. Misinformation: "I only use Photoshop. Now I have to pay $50 a month just to keep it active!"
Fact: This is false. The $50/month subscription fee is for new users to have the entire Adobe suite of products, from Photoshop to video editing software to web production. So, for a maximum of $600/year, you have access to the most up-to-date Professional software available. I say "maximum" because right now, Adobe is offering great discounts for current legal owners of older versions of their software, student/teacher discounts, etc. The $50/month fee is for new users who don’t qualify for any of the discount prices.
Fact: If all you use is Photoshop and you have no desire to try the other software, you can subscribe to individual products for $10/month for an upgrade or $20/month for new users. That’s less than most people pay for coffee every month! Just to have the most updated version of (I’ll stress it again) Professional software. And, once again, I’ll defer back to Scott’s Q&A because he lays out how to figure out the best pricing solution for you. Basically, if you use 2 of the suite products on a regular basis, the full suite pricing ($50/month for new users; $30/month for upgrade users) is the best option. Otherwise, you have many other options that he also discusses in the Grid follow-up video, from purchasing Photoshop Elements to using other programs entirely.

My Thoughts

As I said, this doesn’t really affect me because I made the decision in December to upgrade from CS4 (which I owned Photoshop, Dreamweaver, and Flash only, not the full suite I have access to now) to the Creative Cloud subscription pricing on an annual contract. Not only that, but I have other programs that I use that are also subscription-based pricing, so the concept isn’t new to me. Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m not all about having "the latest and greatest"…. well, anything. I didn’t own a smart phone until this year – which is often a total shock to my networking groups, most of whom have no problem whatsoever paying $200/month and more to stay connected to a device 24/7. As a businessperson, renting equipment, cars, office space, trade show tables, and so on, is often the best solution for keeping your business running. If you’re a hobbyist and you’re upset about suddenly having to pay for Professional software, there are other options for you. First of all, Adobe’s products ARE for professionals, which is why I keep emphasizing that. There are free programs, such as Gimp, that will open and work with layered Photoshop files. You can continue using older versions of Photoshop and other Adobe programs. If you’re a professional, for $20 a month ($10/month if you upgrade now), you can continue using Photoshop and have access to all the new time-saving features. Not only that, but the upgrade doesn’t invalidate your old license. You can use the older, boxed version right alongside the new CC versions of the software.

As for the fact that I now don’t have a "boxed version" of new software to fall back on to purchase, I’m ok with that for one reason. The only thing I wish I’d done differently in regard to the Creative Cloud is that I didn’t sign up for it sooner. The newest features that I didn’t have in CS4 are so far advanced, I can’t imagine working without them. After watching the updates we’re going to get when CC launches, I’m giddy with excitement to get to use them. As a professional graphic designer and web developer, the tools Adobe provides are an invaluable extension of my work and my business. As someone who understands more than most how difficult it is living from paycheck to paycheck (or months on end without one), all I can recommend for others concerned about the cost is: if your livelihood depends on graphic design of any kind, it’s best to have tools that will save you time and allow your best work to shine. For me, that decision is Creative Cloud, hands down.

Additional Information Source Links

Sign up for Creative Cloud now for great upgrade price discounts

Adobe Creative Cloud

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