7 Jul 2013

Adobe CC – that really means Continuous Cost

Adobe have moved all their big products over to a new licence called Creative Cloud that means customers will no longer own their own copy of the software. You have to rent it now, therefore the “CC” brand has a special meaning to Adobe’s senior management – Continuous Cost. Photoshop, Dreamweaver, InDesign, Illustrator and many other favourites of creative professionals and hobbyists must be rented from now on. Worse, ColdFusion support for Dreamweaver has been ejected.

So what’s the big deal and the bottom line with the new licencing model?

  • Pay a monthly fee to rent a product
  • If you stop paying the software will stop working (that’s why Adobe connects their software to the cloud)
  • It’s much more expensive for people who don’t normally buy an upgrade each year
  • If you don’t like Adobe’s new way of doing business then tough, it’s Cloud or nothing from now on
  • If you’re a small business and fall on hard times you must choose between buying food and electricity or your monthly Adobe licencing bill. If you choose the former then your Adobe software stops working and you can’t do any work at all.
  • For students, you too must find money to pay Adobe every month.

Example Pricing

Single product monthly cost = £17.58 x 12 months = £210.96 per year.

Upgrade from CS3+ to latest Cloud version = £8.78 x 12 months = £105.36 for first year only. For the second year onwards the price reverts to the full cost of £210/year or whatever it is at the time.

If you’re one of those people who religiously bought every upgrade for the desktop product then you might not experience a price increase moving to the new licencing model (you get every upgrade when you rent from the cloud). But if you only bought an upgrade when a must-have features has been added, say every other year, then you will be paying nearly double what you previously paid just to use the product on a day-to-day basis.

As usual, UK and European customers pay a premium over US customers. The respective monthly prices are $19.99 (£13.42) and $9.99 (£6.70). So an upgrade for the first year costs £25 more for the first year and £50 more for each subsequent year. That’s a 25% premium for not living in the USA. How is that justified if all the software is provided from the cloud. Do European customers drain 25% more resources from Adobe than US customers? The cloud downloads are probably hosted in the US but even if they were in Europe the hosting costs wouldn’t be different enough to warrant charging £50 extra for a single annual download!

If you need to use at least 3 Adobe products then you can get better value from their full suite. For £46.88 per month (£562/year) you’ll have access to every Adobe product they make. It’s unlikely you’ll use even half the 24 products that are included, and even if you did you’ll have to keep paying £562/year forever if you want to access your Photoshop, Illustrator, or Premier files any time in the future.

I used Premier a lot 10 years ago and if I needed to access the project files I can load them up using my old copy that I still own. But if the Cloud licence had started 10 years ago I would suddenly have to start paying a lot of money again just to load up one of my old files. Think about it. Anything you create with Adobe CC and save in one of Adobe’s native file formats can’t be accessed again in the future if you’re not paying monthly to rent the software back. If you want it just for one month only so you can look at or convert your files, you’ll need to pay a greater premium of nearly double the price!

Adobe Not Listening

Adobe’s Photoshop blog has a post called “Creative Cloud – we’re listening” with over 300 comments that Adobe have not listened to. And we say American’s can’t do irony? Winking smile One comment tests whether Adobe are listening by writing “Wait, they don’t even moderate these comments? F**K, S**T, B*LLS?” There are no asterisks in the original. I wonder how many more weeks it will remain there, unread and unmoderated by Adobe.

Alternative Software

So what can we creative people do about it? Complain to Adobe? Ha-ha, don’t waste your breath. Adobe did a Van Gough to themselves years ago. Start to look at alternative software. Adobe aren’t the only players in the market. I admit most of their software is excellent and people will roll their eyes at the thought of having to learn to become proficient with alternative software. But there’s a lot of other good products out there that will save you money and send a clear message to Adobe’s greedy owners.

Lifehacker has an article suggesting which software you can download for free or for less for each of Adobe’s main products.

Mac owners should check out Gigaom’s article on cheaper alternatives.

A useful site is alternativeto.net that lists potential alternatives to all sorts of software such as Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign, Dreamweaver and anything else you can think of. You can filter by OS and type of licence (commercial or free). Obviously not everything listed is good, or even satisfactory if you’re used to the Adobe version, but some options might come close if given a chance.

Dreamweaver CC Degraded

If the licence issue wasn’t enough to give developers unwanted headaches, then you might be gutted to hear that support for ColdFusion and .NET has been ripped out of Dreamweaver CC. Only PHP support remains. You’d think Adobe would retain support for their own server-side language. This has infuriated creative web designers who like the visual strengths of Dreamweaver to design and maintain their sites while incorporating CFML code. The alternative Adobe product, CF Builder, is not on par with Dreamweaver when it comes to HTML design tools. There is a glimmer of hope. I heard that DW CC will let you manually add the .cfm and .cfc file types back and will still syntax highlight CFML and provide auto-complete code hints.


  1. why anyone would want to use DW for coldfusion when Sublime Text exists is beyond me

    1. Sublime is great for coding but if you're also responsible for the visual design and layout of a site then you need a strong WYSIWYG editor such as Dreamweaver. It's frustrating jumping to and fro between a coding tool and a design tool (I tried it), it's more efficient for some people to have one that can be used for both purposes.