Why I’m Back in Love with Adobe and the Creative Cloud!

by | Jun 20, 2013 | Digital Products, Musings | 21 comments

 First, a little background…

On July 24, 2012, I posted a controversial article about “Why I have to dump the Adobe Creative Cloud”. To summarize the problem quickly here, having bought a full Master Collection license for a number of versions, I was excited by the idea of the Creative Cloud, both because it would save me a bit of money assuming an 18 month release cycle for new versions, and assuming that I upgraded with every version as I had been doing, and because I’d get rolling upgrades, and not have to wait for a full suite upgrade. This were the benefits and I was looking forward to being hooked into this. I signed up for the Creative Cloud on the day of the announcement, before it was even released!

Hurumph!Then, I found out that the licensing component of the software had to connect to the Adobe servers to verify that you’d paid your monthly fees, on the day that you see the transaction on your credit card statement. For me that’s the 11th of each month, and on the 11th of November 2012, I was to be on a ship to South Georgia then down to Antarctica, and wouldn’t see an Internet connection for another three weeks. Then I’d be heading back down there twice more for a total of seven weeks. The problem with this, is that the software tries to verify payment every day for seven days, then stops working.

I would need Photoshop to work on some of my images and stitch panoramas etc. and I was teaching photography on the voyage and needed a working copy of Photoshop to show people in my group certain techniques. I was still using a separate license for Lightroom 4, so that was not going to be a problem. After calling Adobe Support here in Japan, I’d found that there was no way to force authentication before I left, and no way to extend the grace period. His advice was for me to buy a separate license for Photoshop, or cancel my Creative Cloud subscription. I was gob-smacked!

Then, following my post, Adobe contacted me, and we figured out a way for me to go to Antarctica for a total of seven weeks without my license expiring, and they assured me that they would work on implementing a longer grace period. My faith in Adobe was at this point partially restored.

You can see my original post about this here, but that’s the background, let’s move on…

The Licensing Test

That was almost a year ago, then shortly before I left for my recent three week trip to Namibia, I heard that Adobe was preparing to release the next major upgrade of the Adobe Creative Cloud, and it would be subscription only. There will be no way to buy a full Master Collection license, so, to test the system, I decided to travel in Namibia without taking any steps to stop my license from expiring if I couldn’t get online. There was also a chance that I would get online, so I decided to roll with it.

Well, the Internet connectivity was flaky, as you might expect, and I started to see the following Subscription Expired messages. The count-down started for me from 04 Days Remaining, probably because I hadn’t opened Photoshop for a few days, so by the time I realized I had not authenticated, I didn’t have a lot of time to ensure that I could get online.

Adobe Creative Suite License ExpiredWell, with just one day left, we were on the Skeleton Coast, and the hotel we were staying in had a painfully slow satellite Internet connection, that worked very occasionally in the lobby, and nothing in the rooms. I ended up down to 00 Days remaining, and the heavy cloud that is typical of this area continued to prevent me from connecting.

On the morning that we left this hotel, the sky cleared a little, so I started Photoshop, and no message appeared. I didn’t know if this was because I had authenticated, or because I had dismissed the dialog by clicking Continue the evening before. If the software waits 24 hours before trying again, I was out of luck, but you can’t use Photoshop without clicking Continue, so it was a Catch 22 situation. I put my computer in its bag, and we headed out to start shooting for the day.

After we’d been out shooting for a few hours, and due to start our long drive to the next location, the others in our safari vehicle decided they wanted a coffee, so we called back to the hotel before moving on. Still worried that I hadn’t authenticated, I grabbed my computer again, and went back into the lobby for one last look. As I launched Photoshop the 00 Days remaining dialog box popped up. It probably waits 12 hours after you click Continue.

00 Days Remaining!

I hit the Try Again button, but after a few seconds, it popped up again. The cloud cover must have still been preventing me from connecting to the Internet. I waited a few more minutes, as the others got their coffee, then tried again for what would be my last chance, and finally, I saw the following dialog box.

Thank You!

Yes! I’d finally authenticated, in the nick of time. It turns out that the next hotel did have decent Internet, although I hadn’t known that on this morning, so the whole experience was quite nerve racking. Had I been back down in Antarctica, I’d have been screwed. It seems that Adobe hadn’t changed their system, giving people a longer grace period. At least not for CS6 license authentication.

Current Adobe Creative Cloud License Situation

So, I mailed Adobe, to see what the plan was. It seems that Eric Wilde, the Product Manager that had kindly jumped in and helped when I first posted about this last year, has moved on to other responsibilities, but he put me in touch with the current PM. I found that as promised, the licensing had been changed, and would be put in place in time for the release of the Adobe Creative Cloud. This was great news, because as I mentioned above, there would be no full licenses for the Creative Cloud. It is subscription only. Here’s what I heard with regards to the new model. The new licensing for annual subscribers of the Creative Cloud will…[blockquote]…provide for about 3 months of offline usage beyond the one month that the subscriber pays for at the start of the month (say, M1). The payment becomes due at the start of the next month (say, M2) and also the software needs to be refreshed to receive the latest ‘paid’ status. However, if the subscriber is offline at the start of M2 – the refresh of ‘paid’ status can’t happen in the software (regardless of whether the payment was successful or not). So, subscriber will be notified in the software about it starting M2 once daily. And we plan to update & improve the messaging and frequency of these notifications in a few months’ time.”[/blockquote]

I also just checked the Adobe Creative Cloud FAQ and found this information:
Do I need ongoing Internet access to use my Adobe® Creative Cloud™ desktop applications?

No. Your Creative Cloud desktop applications (such as Adobe® Photoshop® and Illustrator®) are installed directly on your computer, so you won’t need an ongoing Internet connection to use them on a daily basis. An Internet connection is required the first time you install and license your desktop apps, but you can use the apps in offline mode with a valid software license. The desktop apps will attempt to validate your software licenses every 30 days. For annual members, you can use the apps for up to 99 days in offline mode. Month-to-month members can use the software for up to 30 days in offline mode.

Happy Again!

So, for me, this licensing model will now cover my needs, and makes Adobe’s subscription model totally viable. There is also talk of them increasing the grace period for up to six months for annual subscribers, so if ever I find myself about to set off to a remote location for more than three months, I think I’ll still be good. I can’t see me going away for that long, unless the National Geographic sends me to some remote corner of the world, which would be great, but pretty unlikely.

But it Gets Better!

But it doesn’t stop there. First up, although I’d always bought a license for Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, since it had been added to the Creative Suite Cloud Subscription, when Lightroom 5 was released recently, I was able to download it straight away, and start using it, saving me the $79 upgrade (although it’s actually slightly more than this in Japan where I have my Adobe account).

Then yesterday, the latest version of the Adobe Creative Cloud was rolled out, with the new license model, at no extra cost. I was able to simply download all the new apps to my MacBook Pro, and start using them. I’m currently paying $50/month, as I’m out of my first year, which was just $30/month, but I really use most of the suite and don’t find this expensive.

Starting Photoshop CC

I’m into Lightroom pretty much most of the time. It’s my bread and butter application. I’m into Photoshop most days, and then regularly use Illustrator, Premiere Pro and After Effects. I use Dreamweaver to manage and edit most of my Web sites too, and I’m working in InDesign preparing for a few project at the moment too. I don’t use other products such as Prelude, SpeedGrade, Edge, Muse, Scout, InCopy or Audition very much, and Flash doesn’t really interest me these days, so I don’t even install it, but still, I’m using enough of the suite that I’m totally satisfied with the price, and it’s nice to know that I can jump in and start using these other products at any time, without any additional investment.

So, basically, although I was always happy with the price and the products themselves, with this recent update to the licensing model, and reaping the benefits of the rolling update model, I’m now incredibly happy with Adobe’s Creative Cloud suite, and can remain in love with the company that has made so much possible for photographers and creatives around the world for more than three decades.

Thank you Adobe – You guys still rock!!



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  1. Murray Foote

    The problem that remains is of upgrade pricing for those who use Photoshop only. Disregarding the discounted upgrade price for the first year, assuming an 18-month upgrade cycle and assuming you upgrade each version, Photoshop CC is about a 100% price increase in the the US and I think more in Europe. If you have been upgrading each second or third version, the price increase is much more. It’s not quite so bad in Australia, a 20% price increase because they have moved to parity with the US price.

    • Martin Bailey

      How much was an upgrade to Photoshop CS6 Murray? Right now, I see that Photoshop CC is $19.99/month, which is $360 for 18 months. I don’t think I was ever able to buy a Photoshop upgrade license for just $360, but I’m recalling probably six or seven year old prices. CS6 got a lot cheaper, I know, and that may have set the wrong expectations on Adobe’s part, but $240/year for a product like Photoshop doesn’t feel that expensive to me.

      • Murray Foote

        It was $290 to upgrade to CS6 in Australia last time and $200 in the US. It doesn’t worry me that much because I have been staying current anyway – but most people I know have been upgrading only every 2 or 3 versions. For them it’s a large increase and also for people who don’t have regular income.

        • Martin Bailey

          From $200 it is a bit of a jump, but I personally think that CS6 was too cheap. Adobe may well have shot themselves in the foot with that CS6 pricing. If we were looking at the subscription model compared to the CS5 upgrade prices, I don’t think there would have been such an argument. I can’t remember exactly what I paid for my early Photoshop upgrades, but I think it was over $700! That was too expensive, but $200 is too cheap for this level of software.

          It may well be a bit much for some people, but with all due respect, if someone can’t afford $360 over 18 months for a key piece of software, how are they going to afford a DSLR and some lenses to do the photography in the first place? Good software and a smooth workflow are as important to our photography as the gear we shoot it with, so why can’t we accept that we have to pay even just this much for it?

          • Murray Foote

            Well, just under a year ago Adobe had a special in the US where they offered full versions of Photoshop CS6 plus Lightroom 4 for under $400. I suspect many people hardly need more than Lightroom. However, there is a lot of furore about the upgrade price and I wonder whether within a year Adobe will lower the upgrade price or offer a cut down Photoshop for photographers or be confronted with new competition, say from Google. Elements doesn’t cut it and is only 8-bit but there may already be a cheap alternative for many less affluent people in the German PhotoLine which is 16-bit with layers.

            It’s true that there are a lot of people who expect something for nothing, especially software. On the other hand there are many people in Latin America and Africa and probably Spain and Greece for whom any kind of photographic equipment is very expensive.

            • Martin Bailey

              I’m sure there is a place for a cut-down version of Photoshop aimed at photographers, as we no doubt only use a small part of the software, but more than what Elements has. This I totally agree with, and if that helps people that simply can’t afford full Photoshop to get in the game, then it has to be good for both them and Adobe.

  2. Ian Mylam

    Martin, great to hear your story had a positive ending. I am a little cynical about Adobe contacting you following your blog post last year and offering to help – I do wonder how much help you would have received had you been A.N.Other Photographer with less of a profile and a less well-widely read blog. Personally, I think it stinks that you could – for example – subscribe to the CC for, say, five years, spending thousands of dollars, and if at that point you decide that you don’t want to subscribe any longer, you may find that you are unable to even open any of the files (.PSD etc.) which you had created in the previous five years, as you would only be able to use Photoshop CS6, and it’s quite possible that .PSD files created in CC would not be backwards-compatible. Fair enough that if you stop subscribing, you don’t get updates – but surely it cannot be fair that you can’t even open work you created during your hypothetical five-year subscription period. I think Adobe should at least allow you to keep the apps you had paid for over that period, without receiving further updates.

    • Martin Bailey

      I kind of see your point Ian, but it doesn’t stop me from being happy now, as I don’t expect I’ll ever cancel my subscription. How much of a problem would this really be though just for viewing purposes? Most third party editors like Aperture understand PSD files. Sure, you might not be able to go back and edit the files, but if you need to edit them, you’d still be have a requirement to use the software, so surely that would warrant a current license.

      It’s certainly a good thinking point, and I’m only just starting to roll this around in my head, but when you think about it, you never actually own software anyway. All you are buying is a license or permission to use the software. Plus, your operating system would change over the years, and the software would stop working anyway. The only reason it continues to work is because the company that develops it continues to update the software, not only adding new features, but ensuring that it continues to work on the latest operating systems, and that requires R&D dollars, which they have a right to be compensated for. Hhmm… This is a good one, but I think I’m still happy. 🙂

      • obaeyensOlaf

        You do not expect to cancel your subscription ever, but when CC goes all wrong and Adobe shares fall big, you might up ending in a dead CC product. Your product might even get cancelled because of Adobe lay-offs.
        Big companies do fall.

        It all depends on what the competition does. When more CS people buy competition software it makes the competition even stronger because they get all these new income from new subscribers. This in turn boosts their development team and make better products. CS products are way cheaper to develop.

        I am a developer (one of these people that Adobe would hire to rectify their spiral of death development) and adobe user. I predict a spiral of death by CC because my experiences in developing software knows that CC is way too complicated to lead to a success. CC is way too many applications and way too complicated applications.

        The funny thing is that I am a very optimistic guy that loves new technologies all the time. CC subscribers will rise in the next year and then collapse when their first year expires.

        Don’t get me wrong. I like the CC ideas. It has great idea’s for people that need it. But that is only a tiny subset of the complete group. CC would be great as an extension on CS. And CC would be great when you could jump on CS7 when all the CC technologies is merged in the very tested CS7 application. So when your subscription stops you can purchase the complete and better tested CS7.

        • Martin Bailey

          Adobe are going nowhere, and even if they did, they’d see their customers right before doing so. And, if by chance I’m wrong on this, I haven’t lost anything other than the time required to find a new solution. PSD files would continue to be supported by someone else, and there’d also be converting apps that would trawl through my library and create TIFFs from all of my PSDs if necessary. I’m not worried in the slightest.

  3. Paul Mo

    ‘…surely it cannot be fair that you can’t even open work you created during your hypothetical five-year subscription period. ‘ I agree. Sadly, I am not giving Adobe another cent. It just seems heavy-handed. I’m not willing to perpetually support software rental nor this as a business practice. I could feasibly HAVE to spend US$24,000+ over the next 40 years in order to rent Adobe software. No thanks. It’s not for me.

    • Martin Bailey

      That’s your choice of course Paul. I was paying 160,000 JPY, which is approximately $1,600 every 18 months to update my Master Collection. Over 40 years that would have cost me $41,600. I save almost half of that with the subscription model. I know which I prefer. Good luck to you though, working without the Adobe products.

  4. Jonathan

    They NEED to have an Annual Subscription that you can pay for in advance. I want to pay for my software in a lump sum, why should I be forced to change this? Happy to subscribe and pay for 12 months at a time, surely this would be preferable to Adobe by having a guaranteed 12 month commitment from a customer than a rolling monthly commitment?

  5. t.linn

    I realize the math works for you, Martin, but from the perspective of an individual U.S. consumer, I couldn’t disagree more on this. The whole concept of software as a service is great for shareholders who welcome an annuity from every user for the rest of their lives. But what does the consumer get in return? There’s no price benefit at all in the U.S. And Adobe no longer has to innovate to convince consumers (read: hostages) to open their wallets. It is my belief that developers should have to add value to new versions of the product to earn more of my money. With this new scheme they just have to show up for work.

    I don’t understand why so many photo professionals fail to understand the peace of mind some users feel in knowing that if something happens to them financially they can continue to use the software they have spent decades learning without further financial outlay. Would these same bloggers advocate renting all your gear in the absence of a financial benefit to do so? I think not. In the U.S., most people are far better off buying a home rather than renting for the rest of their lives. They are far better off buying their car instead of leasing one into perpetuity. And with no price benefit, most individual consumers are better off owning their software.

    Add to this the fact that many consumers just don’t need to upgrade PS more than every third product cycle. A consumer who uses PS as a pixel editor for advanced cloning or simply as a means to save images optimized with Color Efex in a non-destructive smart object format doesn’t NEED the latest version of PS. Those users are really getting screwed. (Though allowing your version of ACR to become out of sync with the one in LR is a workflow issue that largely eliminates the advantages of opening RAW images out of LR as smart objects. Correct me, please, if I’m missing something.)

    It is true that consumers are going to have to make a choice but your “good luck working without Adobe products” comment suggests a false choice between renting and abandoning Adobe. Right now my choice is to use CS6 for as long as possible and hope that legitimate alternatives emerge in the next few years. (Nik/Google, are you listening?) At some point, I’ll upgrade my 5D3 to a 5D4 and have to start converting my CR2’s to DNG to continue using ACR in CS6. Not looking forward to that but I’ll do it. At some point, Windows 9 will come out and I’ll have to hope CS6 runs in compatibility mode. It probably will. (Fingers crossed.) H.265 video encoding is a few years away. That’s a harder one. I love Adobe Media Encoder but I’ll probably have to switch back to Sorensen Squeeze when h.265 becomes a standard. None of these strategies are ideal but they are workable. Honestly, the hardest question is what to do about Lightroom. Do I upgrade to 5 and let my RAW engine in PS CS6 become out of sync? I haven’t decided yet. If I stay with LR4, then not only has Adobe lost my purchase of the CS Master Suite every 18 months but they’ve also lost a Lightroom sale too.

    • Martin Bailey

      Show me your math Tim. At $700 per upgrade for Photoshop, you could get three years of subscription even at the full rate. Even if you skip an upgrade it’s as about the same as buying.

      I see so many people complaining about this, and you are totally entitled to your opinions, but is it really so expensive to subscribe? I’m yet to see any math that makes me feel it is. The people that are complaining most about this seem to be the ones that suddenly find they have to start paying, period.

      Update: Reading your post more, I do agree that if you only upgrade every three versions, the subscription model will work out more expensive. I’m sure the lack of ACR updates would stop you before three upgrades came around, but you could argue that these are just Adobe tactics to get people to upgrade too.

      Personally, I think Adobe create quality products, that they have every right to get people to pay for. I have just received an upgrade to almost all of the apps in the suite at no extra cost, with lots of innovation included too, so I don’t see them slacking on that front yet either. As I say, you’re entitled to your option, but I think there are way too many people blowing this way out of proportion.

      • Darlene Hildebrandt

        Hi Martin

        Interesting discussion, I’ll add my two cents. In Canada (and I’m assuming the US is about the same) a PS upgrade used to be a out $350, the full outright buy it version was about $900. I tended to skip a version so I’d buy it ever 3 years which works out to about $10/month. At the new pricing model it’s now double that. That’s a significant increase. If I bought every version it works out about the same. I teach beginner photography courses and some of my students that have PS can’t afford to pay that so they’re now stuck with CS5 or CS6 or whatever they last paid for.

        Myself I did buy the CC with the educators discount so I’m only paying $19.99 a month for the entire suite, which IS a good deal! I use a few products myself and now that I have access I’ll be trying more of them. I use PS, LR, have used InDesign and Illustrator and moving into video will likely be using Premiere. So for me it’s worth it, even after my first year pricing is over and it increases to $29.99/month.

        Where I have found Adobe sadly lacking is in the support and customer service area. It took me 90 minutes to get my initial membership set up because where I teach wasn’t a recognized school – it took the service person that long just to send me a link to where I could upload a PDF and get it set up. Then I was being charged the full price not the first year sale pricing – it took me SIX WEEKS, 2 phone calls and 2 online chats (4 hours on that alone) to get it fixed! I was told I had to cancel my subscription and buy a new one, but I had to buy the new one first so I didn’t have a lapse in my membership. I was transferred to 4 different customer service people to do this, 3 in India and one in Utah. Each time I had to explain the problem over again from the beginning. Each time I heard “I have to send you to …. department for that”. None of them seemed to have the power to do what I was asking and I kept hearing “NO” over and over and “it’s not my job/department”. Most annoying and really not good service.

        It took 6 weeks to do this because they never replied to my support tickets even though their website stated that CC members had priority service and can expect a reply in 24 hours. We tweeted about it 3 weeks later and magically all of a sudden I got a reply and solution.

        So while I agree with you that they make the industry standard products for imaging, they really need to step up to the plate in the customer service department. I tend to agree with the person early that said you’d likely not have gotten that help if you weren’t a recognized name in the business. Have you read Scott Kelby’s article on why he stopped using Drobo? That’s why.

  6. 24atlanticMegan

    No they don’t rock ? I live in Namibia and have tried everything under the sun to upgrade / buy LR 6 or start subscribing to CC, and it is just plain impossible. How can they do this? What are we meant to do? Stay on LR 5 forever?

    • Martin Bailey

      That’s disappointing. Have you tried calling Adobe support?

      • 24atlanticMegan

        They just simply tell me it’s not available in my Country. Have to use the LR6 stand alone, which will be the last one. There are a lot of countries they don’t provide for… I just feel this is highly irregular in today’s world of technology.

        • Martin Bailey

          Wow! That is surprising.

          Maybe it’s time to consider jumping ship to Capture One Pro like I did earlier this year. 🙂

          • 24atlanticMegan

            Problem is I just love LR! Thanks for your help, and maybe I’ll start looking at Capture 1.


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