In a move which has prompted the technology world to say "blimey", Adobe announced last week that it will no longer produce boxed versions of its Creative Suite, which comprises such industry standards as Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator. Instead, its customers are being ushered hastily towards the online equivalent, Creative Cloud, a software-as-service "solution" which you can use for as long as you pay a monthly subscription fee.
"We believe," said Adobe hopefully, "that Creative Cloud will have a larger impact on the creative world than anything else we've done in the last three decades."
Well, it's certainly made people cross. The jury's out on whether Adobe customers will be better or worse off. If you're the kind of person who regularly uses the entire Master Suite of Adobe products (over £2,600 new) and buys every upgrade when it's released, Creative Cloud's £33 a month charge represents a steal.
But if you're an occasional user of Photoshop and Illustrator and tend to skip every other upgrade, you're going to be out of pocket. Any spiffy new features will only be available in the Creative Cloud versions, so Adobe is hoping to lure in new users and lock them in to a subscription plan.
Microsoft, who have a similar cloud offering – the £65 per year Office 365 – has hinted Adobe's move may be overly bold and somewhat premature. But you can see why Adobe has done it.
Despite increasingly stringent anti-piracy measures, Creative Suite is widely cracked. Creative Cloud gives control back to Adobe, who in turn hope that pirates will convert to paying users. But it's risky.
People may instead make the leap from Adobe to cheaper alternatives: from Illustrator to iDraw, from InDesign to Swift Publisher, or from Photoshop to GIMP (the GNU Image Manipulation Program). Yes, compared to Photoshop, GIMP looks and feels like an inferior prototype. But, crucially, it'll never ask you to sign up for a direct debit.
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