Adobe just announced several major changes to their software. Getting the latest features are now available only from Creative Cloud. Plus there’s a ton of new features and ways to use their photography tools for your workflow. Lightroom is not changing its license structure.

I caught up with Scott Morris backstage at Adobe Max. The audio is a little rough in spots (it is a backstage interview) but the news is breaking and important. Have a listen.

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Join the conversation! 41 Comments

  1. It certainly is one way to guarantee a revenue stream: You can have the latest and greatest, but it’s ONLY available through the cloud. Cha-ching

    • Get used to it Jean. All software companies are doing this. Nobody is making you buy it. There are plenty of alternatives. Some are even free. And what’s wrong with Adobe wanting a steady revenue stream? Do you work for free?

  2. Great interview! Of course I’m bias but would be great if they added a music feature such as Audisoocket.

  3. I see CC as a new product. CS has been discontinued. Like a Jeep Cherokee. Unfortunately, I doubt anyone will be able to call CS6 a classic in 20 years and sell it for more than it was purchased for.

  4. I am not sure I will like this…I have always bought my software and used it for many years before I needed to upgrade. Now it seems that I will not have that option. Now I will just be renting…hummm good luck with that.

    • Trying hard Michael to understand how CC stops you from using software you’ve already purchased or that you might purchase in the future because yes – Adobe is still selling boxed software. Are you just uninformed or an Adobe hater looking for an excuse to rant?????????

  5. Unfortunately Camera Raw is on the suite. This locks you in to current cameras or looking at alternatives if you don’t want to rent updates.

    • @thefrod so you are worried about camera raw updates? That can only mean one thing. You don’t mind spending $100 a month to upgrade your camera but $20 a month for Photoshop no way??????????? I should also add that you can buy Lightroom 4 (IN A BOX) and get ACR upgrades forever – which will work in CS6.

    • You can continue to buy Lightroom or Photoshop Elements as boxed software. That doesn’t lock you into the Cloud. You can also get Photoshop only for $10-$20 a month with other cloud services too.

  6. Note the spin whereby anyone who doesn’t like the forced rental model is one of those “creative people” who just can’t handle change … like we’re the frail old men of the creative industry. It’s arrogant.

  7. I can see why a company like Adobe takes this step, that doesn’t mean I have to like it or that I have to go with it. One reason why I don’t like the Creative Cloud: At least once or twice a year I do some extended documentary work in parts of the world where it’s hard or impossible to get an internet connection. Let’s say I’ll stay there for eight weeks… but I have to connect to the cloud once in a 30 day period or my software will stop working … Great … for the second half of my trip I can still store my photos and my video clips on my hard drive. The other point is: I have no problem with renting some expensive gear that I use only 3 times a year… But – call me old fashioned or whatever – I prefer to own the tools I use on a daily basis. And I still want the freedom of choice, forcing me into a business model like the Creative Cloud doesn’t work for me. The Adobe evangelists at NAPP and other organisations / places can tell me a thousand times more that Adobe is the way to go for a Pro… No, it isn’t. I already use Capture One to edit my Phase One RAW files because it gives me some better result. No problem to adjust all of my RAW files with this tool in the future… and I don’t need all the nice gimmicks that came with the latest CS upgrades… none of them is a must have tool in my workflow. Give me an image editor (some kind of stripped down Photoshop) with some selection tools, a paint brush, a healing brush, a clone stamp, some adjustment layers (curves, curves and curves), layer masks and some blending modes and I’m a happy guy. For video I already use FinalCut… I’m not defined as a human being by my profession and I#m not defined as a professional because I use that special camera or that special software. SO… Goodbye Adobe, I really enjoyed the ride… but now it’s time to move on. I only hope that enough users will vote with their dollars against such forced subscription models…

    • @Jay really? That is a red herring. Let’s say you go somewhere in the world where you misplace your install disk and your drive goes bad and you can’t re-install Photoshop. See how silly this can get> And you can still use any Adobe boxed software you have and boxed Lightroom will still be sold. You will soon find out that almost all the companies are moving to this model. I am glad to see you moving on from Adobe because it doesn’t sound like a good match for you. GIMP is free by the way – you might want to try that out.

      P.S. Since they originally announced Creative Cloud – Adobe’s revenue is WAY up so I am afraid your last bash hope of creating more Adobe haters to stop the subscription model will fail. There are plenty of us who are actually paying less for more and who value the convenience. I am one of them.

    • I’ve asked this question before JAyEm. Here’s answer.

      1. After 30 days it asks to activate if you don’t have a net connection… otherwise it stays active.
      2. If no net connection, it stays active for another 30 days and just asks for a net connection.
      3. You can call in on phone and activate that way.

      Plus if you know you’re going to be traveling, you can call customer support and they’ll activate the account for a longer travel window in advance.

      Yes… company’s have had to change their ways to combat piracy some… but they do have easy ways to avoid the problem you describe. A very valid concern… but they do have a solution for it.

  8. Scott, in your response to Michael – Adobe is NOT still selling boxed software for future upgrades (aside from Lightroom). Sure, current versions will still continue to work, but eventually our computers will get an operating system that is no longer compatible with CS6, or we’ll have a camera that isn’t supported. Adobe has promised new camera support to CS6, but we’ll see how long that lasts, given the current push to the CC.

    • @Jordan Your math is fuzzy. The cost of CS 5 was about $600 plus $200 to upgrade. So you’re downplaying the original cost to help boost your point. When you have to go to that extreme it shows you’re argument is weak. And the tools will not stop working with the cameras you have to day – all software becomes outdated and you have the option to buy it again or not. This in effect can be compared to a monthly subscription. The most silly argument is that people complain they can’t afford $20 a month (that’s the cost the first year for JUST Photoshop and Lightroom) but then you look at their camera buying habits and they don’t mind upgrading bodies every 18 months at a cost of $100 a month. I’m call BS. Also there are dozens of alternatives. All this whining and crying is stupid. Don’t like the policy then don’t subscribe. But the writing is indeed on the wall. Subscription pricing is going to become the dominant business model in the software industry. And for many of us, (me included) CC is a good deal. I am getting access to more software than I had before for less money and will always have the latest version hassle free. You can use GIMP and not pay a penny.

    • Camera support can also come via Lightroon, Photoshop Elements, etc. which are boxed.

  9. Creative Cloud has made Photoshop CS6 my last Photoshop. It’s not the ‘cloud’ part. That’s fine. I can deal with that. It’s the jacking up of the price at the same time removing security in my purchase that will make this a non-starter for me.

    I use two Adobe products for my photography: Photoshop and Lightroom. Lightroom isn’t affected (yet), so that’s fine for now. Photoshop, I have owned since version 6, and have purchased upgrades to 7, CS2, CS5 and CS6. My upgrade from CS5 to CS6, both of which I did at release, cost me $200. That’s $200 for 15 months. And I get to keep CS6.

    If I go to the Creative Cloud, I get to pay $120 for the first year…which wouldn’t be so bad, but then it quickly goes to $240 for every year thereafter. Since Adobe generally has upgraded around an 18 month cycle, this equates to an ‘upgrade’ cost on the old method of $360…an over 50% price hike. The best part? I don’t even own the license now, and if I EVER stop paying, all those upgrades just go away. Once you start with CC, you are opting in to essentially a hostage situation, where you pay way MORE than the previous upgrade model, while receiving nothing concrete to show for it. Stop paying, and all those upgrades are gone. It’s insane.

    Those pros who are so ingrained int he system will be forced to upgrade. Luckily I am not in this category, and will simply take my money elsewhere, as will a LOT of other photographers. I’m not going to be happy and excited about paying 50% more for the upgrade cycle with nothing to show for it. If Adobe wanted to make this attractive to the end user, they’d make it $15 a month, and you keep whatever version you are on when you stop paying. To keep people from only subscribing for one month a year, you make a 1 year commitment every time you join. (This only valid for previous owners). That would be reasonable. As it is, the minor benefits of some cloud storage and more regular updates are so minute compared to the enormous downside of cost and lack of ownership that I can’t even fathom joining this racket.

    That said: if you’re buying the whole creative suite from scratch, it’s not a bad deal…at least until you’ve reached the 4-5 years where the break even point would be and then realize you own nothing, and as soon as you stop paying, those $3,000 you’ve spent are flushed down the drain.

  10. Scott, I jumped on board just two days ago after visiting the Adobe booth at PSW and listening to Rich. The tipping point for me was my aspiring 15 year old son who is already using the latest Adobe products in his public high school graphics class. I’m a Mac, he is a PC, so the cloud was a cool choice offering both systems A no brainer for us. Now sonny boy is up and running creating in Flash and loving it. Imagine where he will be in 5 years working in the cloud.

    Embrace the change. Thanks Rich.

  11. @ Scott: I know that I still can use my “old” boxed Adobe software and in the case of Photoshop I will do so… but you’re right: On the road my HD can crash or whatever… but before Richard’s reply I didn’t know that you could call the support and ask for a longer activation period for travel. And no, GIMP is (at the moment) not an alternative for me… and I don’t ask for some free software, I only want to be able to buy some software, not to rent it. It’s just a personal preference, nothing more. It’s the same with a car: I want to buy it, not to lease it. And… I don’t want to create more “Adobe haters”, But it’s funny that some guys call you an Adobe hater only because you criticize that Creative Cloud business model. I never had any problems with the company and other than many people who have complained about their support, I only can say: Their support worked always fine for me. It’s just that subscription business model that I don’t like. Again… just a personal preference.

    • Jay you are proving my point. All this outrage is coming from people like you who didn’t even know the facts. Maybe getting the facts would be a good idea before you start such a tirade? You’re called a hater when you do things like that. And as for your comment, you can still buy CS6 and Lightroom in a box. Nobody is stopping you.

  12. @ Richard: Thanks for the clarification about the longer activation period for travel. Didn’t know about that. But I still think that I will not go with the subscription model.

    I also understand that the software companies need to fight piracy and I agree with them in this case. But I’m pretty sure the subscription model will not help them… the crackers are criminals but they aren’t stupid. I’ll bet there will be cracked Photoshop CC versions (it may take a few days more this time) for all the cheap guys who are not willing to pay for a good piece of software that they use to make money.

    I fight for my copyright and I accept the copyright of others. I get payed for my work and I pay for the work of others… it’s that simple. But I don’t like if someone forces me in a business model, I want the freedom of choice. If it’s more expensive to buy piece of software than renting it, that’s fine for me… I can use this bought software as long as my OS supports it. Again: Just my personal preference, nothing more and nothing less…

  13. Scott, you said, ” Your math is fuzzy. The cost of CS 5 was about $600 plus $200 to upgrade. So you’re downplaying the original cost to help boost your point. When you have to go to that extreme it shows you’re argument is weak. ”

    Actually, my math is not fuzzy. I have already paid the $600 for the original…plus four different upgrades throughout the past 15 years I’ve been using Photoshop. The standard pricing structure that has been in place since Photoshop’s origin requires about $200 every year and a half to stay current. The new play, if I choose to stay current, requires $240 the first 18 month period (due to the discount), and $360 for each 18 month period thereafter. The regular price is an 80% markup over the previous upgrade pricing.

    I do heartily acknowledge that when buying Photoshop new, the CC plan isn’t nearly as bad, and if you’re buying the whole Creative Suite (or would be buying 3-4 different programs), the CC subscription makes a LOT of sense. However, for those who already own Photoshop and don’t need the other programs (which constitutes a lot of people), it makes NO sense.

    Including the original cost of Photoshop, plus upgrades, I’ve paid around $1400 over the past 13 years to get to CS6. And now that I won’t be buying upgrades from here on out, I still have Photoshop CS6 which I can use for years and years, until my operating system can no longer run it. Even if I had not skipped CS, CS3 and CS4, the total would have been approximately $2,000…but, I didn’t have to buy those, so I got to save a little money when the features weren’t needed.

    Had the Creative Cloud pricing structure been in place when I first purchased Photoshop, I would now have spent $2,980 in Creative Cloud subscription fees, and, if I chose to not continue to pay for these upgrades…my Photoshop would fail to work, and all that money would be down the drain, and I’ d have nothing to show for it.

    I understand that the Creative Cloud licensing can be a good thing for my people. Working pros who use multiple Adobe products, media production houses that need to add and remove seats regularly…this is a great feature for them. For the individual consumer who only uses one or two products, and has already been a loyal customer? It’s a major price hike on future versions, without any ability to keep the upgraded versions if you stop paying. AND, there is no guarantee that they won’t raise prices 2-3 years down the line…and then, you can’t choose to stop paying without losing all the upgrades you’d been paying for the previous few years. Don’t try and pretend that because it works for you, it works for everyone.

    Yes, we have a choice as consumers, and I will not buy into this agreement. At least with Microsoft, when they unveiled Office 365, still offered the current versions of the software as standalone products, so one could choose to go subscription or buy into the cloud licensing. And they made it financially decent as well, as one $10/mo subscription buys you licenses for up to five computers.

    I will use CS6 as long as it is feasible, and I will continue to upgrade LIghtroom as long as it remains standalone, but when the time comes, if this pricing structure is still in place, I will take my money elsewhere.

    • @Jordace you’re already backing up – first you said it was double. Now you’re saying it was an 80% increase. In time you may get to the truth. As for your threat to leave Adobe for greener pastures, something tells me they’re not missing any sleep over that one. You are throwing out red herring after red herring to try to justify your faux outrage. What boggles my mind is why anyone with so much hate and disdain for Adobe would even want to use their stuff another day. Move on. Use something else. Get over it.

  14. Sure, Scott and Richard … you guys (and NAPP and other Adobe Evangelists) have taken drink from the Adobe Koolade foutain, and are now part of the “believers”. Seems you have no patience for those of us who would prefer the other alternative. Fine and dandy – I have no patience for the new model … remember, not all change is necessarily “good”. In fact, it is not really change, but is instead a reversion to an old model of the computing industry – in the olden days, IBM leased both its hardware and software to customers, with no option to purchase, until it was taken to court under anti-trust laws. I’ve been involved in the computer industry for 40 years, and the more things change, the more they stay the same.
    The tipping point for me on this Adobe offering is this: today, when I purchase a perpetual license, I can keep using the software on that license until it drops dead (or I do, whichever comes first); but under the new scheme, once I stop paying, I lose what I have immediately. I’ll always be able to find a computer to run CS6. But while that is no longer an issue with CC, as one commenter said, not having the ability to stop paying at some future date, and then not keeping whatever level I am on when I stop paying, is not something that interests me. That’s a change too … would that be a better change? I think so.
    You also tell us, with noted dsdain, to “just use Gimp” … we all know it is a poorer cousin to Photoshop today, but will this new Adobe model spur Gimp, Corel, and others to adopt that same model … or will it spur them on to provide more and better features in their purchased or free products? Time will tell … the software industry abhors a vacuum, and it seems that Adobe has created a good one.

    • Martin you have no patience for anyone who won’t subscribe to your entitlement theory and faux outrage. So be it. You want something for nothing. Here’s the bad news pal. I know your mom told you that you were special, but she lied. You’re not. Call me a Kool-Aide drinker because I see more value in this than you. If it makes you feel good call me every name in the book. But it doesn’t change the facts. You aren’t owed a thing by Adobe. You can quit using their product any time. Tomorrow I have a post just for you and the other haters that will explain what I think are the real reasons for all your hate. Don’t miss it.

    • You can still buy cs6. Listen to my audio interview fully so you can understand the reasons.

  15. This move is really a killer for me!
    1. I live in Vanuatu and Adobe wont accept payments from here, despite the fact that I have a paypal account and my credit card is from an Australian bank.
    2. I am an amateur, this means that all my photo work is done on my home machine. I do not have an internet connection there. To get a connection with any near reasonable speed would cost me about USD100 a month.
    3. If I cancel my subscription I can no longer user the software.

    Cheers Rex

    P.S. I believe Lightroom will still be available as a desktop application.

    • @Rex

      Q1. Adobe says a ton more countries being added.

      Q2. App installs on your computer. Doesn’t run over cloud. You can order install discs if you need them. Contact support. Dials in once a month to verify subscription. Sending as much data as an email. Can also activate on phone.

      Q3. That is correct. If you wait to long to upgrade you apps you also can’t run them. Old software can’t run on newer computers. Upgrades and maintenance are part of life. Do you expect to buy one car for life, never put fuel in it or have to do upgrades/repairs?

      Q4 Lightroom is not affected.

  16. I understand why Adobe are doing this, and I see that for those who want the Master Collection or who always buy the new version of Photosop this is a good deal.

    However, for the tens of thousands of hobbyists out there, this is yet another tech related subscription. When you purchase something outright, you can assess your finances and decide whether you can afford whatever piece of software, camera body or lens you’re talking about. If you later fall on hard times and decide to economise, you own that thing, are free to continue using it, and can maybe even sell it.

    Now let’s say that you’ve been subscribing to Creative Cloud for long enough, such that you’ve spent the equivalent of Photoshop+Lightroom. If you now fall on hard times and can’t afford the CC subscription, you suddenly no longer have access to that software. All you’re left with is any JPEGs you exported.

    Scott, while I agree that this is the way software licencing is going, (Office 365 anyone?) I find your attitude of “boo hoo get over it” exceedingly arrogant. Regardless of the many mertis of this new model, the removal of the choice to own a perpetual licence is a bad deal for the consumer.

    As a prominant figure in the photography scene, you have the oportunity to be a spokesperson for the amateurs and hobbyists whol listen to your show, many of whom do not change camera bodies every 18 months and are happy to make considered one off purchases, but not to commit to another monthly payment. Sadly you seem to have lost touch with this audience.

    • @gavin If you’re a hobbyist buy Lightroom or Elements. B&H are in boxes.. Offer perpetual licenses. Etc. you can also buy CS6 if you want.

      You Photoshop CC files can be opened in older versions of Photoshop just fine. Some new features may not be editable, but files open.

    • Did you LISTEN to my interview. You absolutely have a choice to buy a perpetual license. Cs6 still exists and is still sold.

  17. Scott, I can totally get on board if the premise is Adobe deserves more money for their products, that the increased amount is still fair etc. but we can’t be in denial of what the reality is. For existing users of Photoshop (but not other Adobe products outside Lightroom) this is a significant cost increase with risk attached. Under the older boxed software model upgrades occurred on average every 18 months and cost at retail about $200. This represents a cost of ownership of $11.11 per month. However this doesn’t even tell the full story as many, many hobbies and casual users of Photoshop chose to upgrade less frequently, perhaps skipping a version which would bring their cost of ownership over 36 months (ie. skipping a version) to only $5.56 per month. Compare this to the new price of CC, which is $19.99 per month for Photoshop only (I know about the 1 year reduced rate of $9.99 but that is for 1 year only and you have to join CC by July, lets focus on the long term cost not promotional pricing.) which represents a near doubling or quadrupling of price for cost of ownership. Now LET ME BE CLEAR, perhaps this is a “fair” cost $20 a month… but let’s not pretend it isn’t a large hike from the present cost! The other big change is you don’t own the software. Under the old model if you decide you don’t value the new version, your finances change, you hate Adobe for some obscure reason etc. you can simply keep what you got and go on with life. On the other hand if you join CC, again at a higher cost than before, you assume risk because if you EVER stop paying the fee you lose Photoshop, and with it you lose the ability to even access your old projects and .psd files.

    The way I see it is this… you have to be willing to accept a 2 to 4 time increase in price (depending on how you chose to upgrade in the past) and the knowledge you can’t ever stop paying or lose access to some of your existing work. A true “lock in” if you will. Perhaps Scott you will dead on right and everyone will think the CC “only” option is the greatest thing since sliced bread and Adobe will sing to the bank as users praise their software… or perhaps this will only appeal to serious professional photographers and creatives who use Adobe software in their daily lives for their livelihood while perhaps many of the hobbiest and casual class will not find the value and risk worth it and move to alternative options.

    • 2 to 4 times? Crazy math

      New Photoshop. $699
      Upgrade Photoshop $199
      Photoshop Extended $299

      Photoshop shipped about every 1.5 years

      That’s $11-16 a month

      You now get extended feature set
      More frequent updates
      New features faster
      20 GB cloud storage

      Yes. A little more at $20 a month

      If you need a suite of products
      Master collection $2600
      Upgrades about $1000

      Cloud $50 a month
      Plus acrobat, Lightroom, fonts, storage, and more

      Relook at your math

  18. Rich

    1. For how many revisions will Lightroom still be available outside of CC?
    2. Regardless of what you’re getting for your $50 per month, if you stop paying, it’s game over. How can the removal of the option to buy outright be good for the end user?

    • @Gavin I wrote this post so I will answer. We don’t know how many revisions of Lightroom will still be available. We also don’t know if Canon or Nikon will ever make new glass; we don’t know if Aperture will ever be updated, or Word, or Evernote or if the world will end. There are no guarantees and you are owed none.

      What do you mean if you stop paying $50 it’s game over? And did you even read the post. You can purchase outright – right now. CS6 and LR4 are available as stand alone products.

      You can also buy something else.

  19. Scott, I would not be so rude as to comment on an article I hadn’t read.

    “What do you mean if you stop paying $50 it’s game over? ”

    If you have a CC subscription and you stop paying money to Adobe, regardless of how long you’ve been doing so, or what the total amount you’ve handed over is, all access to CC software stops. This is what I mean by “game over”. Am I wrong?

    BTW, UK pricing is £46.88 per month which is about $72. I am not a student and qualify for no upgrade discounts.

    “We don’t know how many revisions of Lightroom will still be available.”
    “You can purchase outright – right now. CS6 and LR4 are available as stand alone products.”

    If you are going to defend CC on the basis that stand alone products are still available, then the availability of future versions is absolutely key.

    “There are no guarantees and you are owed none.”

    Agreed. However, consumer power does not work by the big corporations saying jump and you saying “how high?” It works by people making a fuss and letting companies know that they have misjudged the market.

    To be clear, I am not against CC per se but against the removal of choice for the customer. Is your position, Scott, that you think it’s a good thing this choice has been removed?

    • Gavin thank you for clarifying your comment. I agree that if you stop paying for CC you no longer access it just like if you stop paying your mortgage you don’t get to live in your home or if you stop paying your car payment you no longer get to keep your car. I am not concerned about UK pricing. We’re a USA centric site and cover photography with that bias in mind. There are plenty of European magazines and blogs better suited to comment on European pricing.

      I am not defending Creative Cloud. I don’t need to. Nor do I need to defend my decision to embrace it. I am merely pointing out facts that have been lost in the argument and gnashing of teeth from the haters.

      I disagree with your point that updates are key to boxed software. There are no guarantees that any company will update its software ever. You pay your money and take your chances. Consumers can vote with their pocket books. Adobe has not (based on financial response) misjudged anything. A very small, vocal minority is making noise. They will go away. The CC decision will stand and most of the people crying about this today will be back later to pay because at the end of the day the software is worth it.

      Choice has not been removed. You are free to switch products any time you want. We’ve started a comment thread here listing alternatives.


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About Richard Harrington

Richard Harrington is the founder of RHED Pixel, a visual communications company based in Washington, D.C. He is the Publisher of Photofocus and Creative Cloud User as well as an author on Rich has authored several books including From Still to Motion, Understanding Photoshop, Professional Web Video, and Creating DSLR Video.




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