Creative Cloud Thoughts

My Thoughts on the Creative Cloud

The Creative Cloud. Loved by many, hated by even more. At least, that’s the impression we’re getting from all the commotion over the last few days. For the most part, I’ve kept my opinions to myself, but as the response has been quite overwhelming, here I go.

Disclaimer: As an Adobe Community Professional, I receive my Creative Cloud membership at no charge. This does not influence my views in any way.

What is Creative Cloud

In a nutshell, the Creative Cloud is a subscription service that offers all of Adobe’s creative software, 20GB of storage, and a slew of other benefits such as syncing and web/app publishing. All of this comes with a monthly fee, which can vary depending on a few factors.


This is where things get confusing. Adobe is offering the Creative Cloud at a few price points, which are outlined below.

Complete (All Apps)

  • New Subscribers: $50/month
  • Current CS6 Owners: $20/month for the first year
  • CS3 and later customers: $30/month for the first year

Single Apps

  • New Subscribers: $20/month
  • CS3 and later customers: $10/month for the first year

No More Perpetual Licenses

Starting in June, Adobe will no longer be offering perpetual licenses for their new software. If you want to remain up to date, a Creative Cloud subscription is required. When Adobe announced this change, the Internet went on defense. Customers complained that they don’t want to be ‘renting’ software, they’d rather ‘own’ it.

To an extent, I agree. Just like my Internet service, I don’t want to worry that, if I miss a monthly payment, my connection will shut off. The same goes for the Creative Cloud. Customers don’t want to lose their software if they miss a payment, or if their subscription is cancelled.

Understandable, but Adobe is offering a 99 day grace period for annual subscribers who may not have access to the Internet every month.

However, I do agree that once a subscription is cancelled, the software shouldn’t just cease to exist (in some situations). Customers who have made ‘x’ amount of on-time monthly payments should have the option to keep some or all of their software if their subscription is cancelled (depending on how much has been paid). This would mean no new updates until payment is resumed, but at least you wouldn’t be without your work tools.

“I Don’t Own My Software!”

You never really ‘owned’ previous versions, either. But this goes back to my previous point that I feel Creative Cloud subscribers should have the option to keep their software once they meet a payment threshold.

“It’s Too Expensive!”

This is another common complaint, which can go in either direction. Let’s take a look at some math to figure out if this is true or not.

Assuming you’re a current CS6 Master Collection owner who keeps up to date, the upgrade price would be $525, every approximately two years ($1050).

With the Creative Cloud, at $30/month (for the first year), you’re out $360 for the first year, and $600 for the second year when the price goes up to $50/month.

To some, that may seem like a $435 loss, but amongst all the benefits of being a Creative Cloud member, you’re getting frequent updates and new features. You’ll no longer need to wait until Adobe releases the next ‘big’ paid update. When new features are ready, you’ll be able to download them right away.

Plus, if you’re one to jump on every new release, at the end of the second year, when “CS8” would have come out, that’s another $525 hit for a perpetual license, which brings you $90 in the green by subscribing to the Creative Cloud!

“I Only Want Photoshop! Rawr!”

Okay, fine! You can! If you’re only looking to use Photoshop and nothing else, as mentioned in the pricing plans above, users can subscribe to individual applications starting at $10/month, which also includes the 20GB of storage!

“I Don’t Want to Upgrade!”

So don’t! If you ‘own’ CS6 or lower, no one is forcing you into the Creative Cloud. If the new features in Photoshop CC aren’t attractive to you, don’t upgrade. Stick with your current version, and be happy. Of course, once an attractive upgrade is available, the Creative Cloud is waiting for you.

Listen Up, Photographers!

Photographers have been one of the heavy hitters in this debate, but Adobe has some answers!

Adobe has confirmed that, in addition to being part of the Creative Cloud, Lightroom 5 will also be available as a perpetual software license, which means you’ll be able to purchase it at full price, and use it forever.

Why I Prefer The Creative Cloud

  • Assuming that I was a paying customer, which I was before I became an ACP, paying monthly for my software allows me, as a business owner, to not only plan my expenses, but factor my payments into my invoices. It also allows me to spread out the once expensive upgrade price.
  • No more do I have to search the planet for my serial number, which was usually on the back of the DVD case. Simply log into your account with your AdobeID, and you’re in!
  • Updates galore! When a new feature is ready, it’s in your hands. Waiting 2 years for an upgrade was boring!
  • In the rare case that I have to use a Windows machine, my Creative Cloud membership allows me to install Adobe software on both the Mac and Windows.
  • As I use Adobe software for my business, I have no intentions of canceling my subscription.


  • You do NOT need to be connected to the Internet at all times in order to use Photoshop. You only need to be connected to download the software, and once every 99 days (for annual subscribers) to validate payment.
  • You do NOT run applications in your web browser. All software is downloaded and installed on your computer, just like before.
  • Your work is NOT stored in the cloud. All of your work remains on your local hard drive, with the option of saving a COPY to your Creative Cloud account.

Get Used to It

Whether you like it or not, subscription models are here to stay. Adobe may be one of the first to offer such an extensive subscription, but more will follow. Software companies, gaming platforms, and so on. It may not be this year, it may not even be next year, but this will be common practice very soon.


Sure, the Creative Cloud model isn’t perfect, and it isn’t right for everyone. Here are some ideas which I think will make it a more attractive service.

  • The option to keep software after a payment threshold is met. This would allow users to safely cancel their Creative Cloud membership, but still have access to their work tools. However, once the subscription is cancelled, the user would no longer receive ‘new feature’ updates until their subscription is renewed. Think of this idea like leasing a car. Once the lease is paid off, many car companies allow you to take ownership of the car. You just wouldn’t get the new model without a new lease.
  • More specific ‘bundles’. Photographers would love a Photoshop/Lightroom bundle instead of subscribing to the whole suite of software.
  • Loyalty pricing. If you’ve been a CS user for many years, monthly pricing will remain at the ‘introductory’ rate.
  • More storage. 20GB seems like a nice amount of space, until you start uploading your elaborate designs to the cloud. Considering that Dropbox offers 100GB for $10/month, a bump in storage would be nice to see for Creative Cloud members.

More Questions?

If you have more questions about the Creative Cloud, please refer to this article by Chief Customer Advocate, Jeffrey Tranberry.

Check out what’s new in Photoshop CC | Learn more about Creative Cloud

  • Ahmed Adel

    the most useful feature is sync. this will save a massive amount of data from being LOST , i’m using Photoshop CS6 Extended and i believe 10$/month +20GB is so fair 🙂

    • I agree. $10/month for Photoshop CC is more than fair. I’m a fan of subscriptions, but others seem not to be. 🙂

      • Ahmed Adel

        i like the idea, but this doesn’t mean that i’ll subscribe 😛

  • I really like your idea that you get to keep the software once you’ve put in a certain amount of $$.

    • Me, too! I hope we see something like this implemented. Time will tell.

  • Filip Krygsman

    Thank you for this clear and unbiased statement. There is one point I disagree on and that is that CC is here to stay. The enormous amount of loyal customers that are against this subscription thing is staggering and are feeling betrayed by this rather arrogant “take it or leave it” approach.
    Adobe is going to have a hard time to win them back if they don’t adjust and start thinking of their customers again.
    I am one of those people who is totally against the CC package and who is disgusted by this self centered approach. these are my two main reasons, lack of choice and an awkward Adobe dependency. You have addressed both my main objections eloquently.

    Lack of choice: your option of more specific bundles is definitely something Adobe needs to address urgently. Adobe has many customers with different needs, to give them this all or nothing approach is ectremely short sighted and only serves Adobe and not their customers. As said before it is smacks of an arrogancy you only see in monopolistic companies. Shame on you Adobe.

    An awkward Adobe dependency: Adobe has always been known to be rather aggressive in their pricing structure, especially for overseas customers. Don’t get me wrong, their products are nothing short of excellent, but they do know it and have always maximised their pricing to the hilt.
    The CC packages create total future dependency on Adobe, which scares most people, including me. To think Adobe is not going to increase the prices of these CC packages is like putting your head in the sand. This dependency is scary and totally puts me in the no thank you category. Therefore your suggestion that periodical licensed copies must be made available would be a counter measure to this decency.
    If Adobe is not going to take these measures on board and incorporate them into the CC reforms then I am rather convinced that the CC thing is doomed from the start. You can fool people some of the time, but not all of the time. Arrogant behaviour will not be reworded, no matter how big you are. Once again for your e cel lent article.

    • Thanks for the reply, Filip. I’d bet on the Creative Cloud staying, but not without modifications. It’s clear that customers aren’t happy, and Adobe needs to reverse this, but I think whatever action we see, it’ll still revolve around the cloud. I could be wrong though.

    • EddieA

      While I have mixed feelings about the entire thing, I will comment on one point; the arrogance of the ‘Take it or leave it’ stance. Adobe should learn from another company who was once regarded as the most arrogant around. They owned the market but people left in droves once there was something even slightly better – as in Indesign version 1. Remember QUARK?

  • Marvin

    Responding to “My thought about Creative Cloud”

    The composition is an excellent propaganda speech …

    CC will never remain a steadfast low monthly payment and will be difficult for
    many students who purchase special discounted CD’s ($20 for Production and $20
    for Premium) …

    There are Adobe software professionals who have not updated since CS3
    because “goodies and thingies” can be accomplished without upgrades …

    In addition, there are plug-in apps from many third-party organizations who
    offer products at affordable prices …

    Additionally, so-called security and support is something I do not put my
    faith and trust in … obtaining live tech support personnel is always a bummer —
    I don’t like talking to someone who is not fluent in my language!!!!

  • KPC

    So is it expensive or not?
    Stop confusing and misleading by saying “It’s expensive” and then grab “it’s $90 cheaper”.

    • I guess I should have put the heading in quotes. I was referencing what many customers are stating. I’ll fix it.

  • You said “subscription models are here to stay”. Yes, they are very profitable for companies. Translation: They cost us a lot of money! How many different software programs do you have on your computer? What if all of them required a subscription? What would that cost you each and every year? What if Windows & OSX go subscription and when you don’t pay, you’re locked out of your computer? How about when your next camera will require you to plug it in to your internet connected computer every month to check that you made your payment or it turns into a brick? We are moving from owners in perpetuity to renters with threat of eviction.

  • Nicholas Taylor


    Loved the post, and I love CC. I’m a fulltime writer, and I
    own my own publishing company. For many writers who have careers as indie publishers,
    having Photoshop and InDesign can save huge amounts of money (Dreamweaver and
    Muse can also be huge money savers). If you write more than one book a year and
    want to be a career writer, this software is a terrific investment. Before CC
    small houses and indies had to decided if they wanted to spend $2,500 to buy
    the Creative Suite, or if they wanted to outsource tasks. With CC that all
    changed. Now an indie or small press can get a subscription, invest in a little
    training and be on their way. For my industry this is wonderful, I’m sorry to
    hear that some don’t like CC, but for my part I’m thrilled.


  • dissatisfied user

    What happens to your data in the Adobe cloud if you don’t keep up your payments? Not only do they want you to rent the software but you will be renting your information too.

    Don’t get me wrong I like the cloud, but I dislike the idea of being chained to the adobe only cloud. If you want to give me a cloud offering then make it useable with anyone’s cloud, google, amazon, MS, dropbox, etc… Requiring the use of the adobe cloud is awful as its tied to your payment, so not only do you loose your software but also your data.

  • CC is only a good bargain if you’re the “early adopter” type who always upgrades to each and every version of Photoshop; with CC you’re essentially getting every new release as it becomes available and paying for it in monthly installments.

    However, if you’re the type of user who can get by with every other version or so, or can’t afford to constantly upgrade, CC is terrible value. For example, I used CS2 for years before finally being able to upgrade directly to CS6. If I purchased CS2 in 2005, I got 8 years of mileage out of it for my $500 investment. The comparable CC subscription, single-app at $20 per month, would have ended up costing me $1,920 over the same time period.

    For hobbyists, freelancers, and struggling individuals, and for small businesses always watching their bottom line, that kind of expense is inexcusable. (We don’t all work for massive design houses with infinite budgets in strong markets.) Especially considering you have to keep paying each month to use the software, as opposed to an install you can use forever after a one-time payment.

    It’s a shame too, because some of the new features in Photoshop CC look really great, but I cannot ever see myself upgrading my current version of PS to a subscription-based model. Adobe, how about giving your customers the option to choose the product and payment that works best for them and their business, and offering a traditional, non-subscription version of CC and future Photoshop releases?

    • dissatisfied user

      I am with you though I do update PS about every 2 version, not quite as long a wait between versions as you do.

  • Tom

    Creative Cloud subscription system will remove the ability for people to vote with their dollars. Instead of only buying versions that you feel are worth the money now you pay a monthly fee just to be able to create things. So your less likely to withhold your money if they do a bad job simply because you just need access to create and work. In the long run this is going to make Adobe lazy in innovation. Unless a real competitor pops up.

  • I won’t bash Adobe for their move, but as a small biz photographer, I just can’t see the way to afford the expense. I could give up my PS CS5.5 and go to CS6 for just $10.. but that’s just for a year. I think I will be forced to stick with CS5.5 until it is no longer feasible and weigh the benefits of Adbobe products or a similar, albeit not as good, product that might be cheaper. Remember when newspapers said everyone would pay to read the content on the internet. Yeah, that worked out real well.

  • Joe Sarigianopoulos

    Yeah Howard,
    Like I said, it really does depend on a person’s budget, which works best for them. Nobody likes to have things forced down their throat and that is essentially what they (Adobe) are doing. Sure I can keep my current CS6, but sooner or later we all know the inevitable is going to happen. We all upgrade at some point! Adobe knows this as well and it’s a shame. This isn’t about keeping my software even if I don’t pay or grace periods lasting 3 months. This is about freelancers and small businesses leaving Adobe because they can’t afford the constant expense nor jack up their rates causing them to be easily undercut.
    One has to wonder if this has anything to do with the loss of Flash and the conversion to HTML 5 in Android devices? They have to make up for lost revenue somehow!

    • I agree with Joe, and his thoughts about freelancers, small businesses, and the serious hobbyist such as myself. I will keep using PS6, and I am going to be calling about getting the programs on CD in the event of a computer crash (I don’t want to be forced into another monthly bill at this time). I am sure there are others such as myself (being 57 years old) who love using the program for various reasons. For me, it helps keep the mind working (the mind is a terrible thing to waste…I am sure we have all heard that before)! I love taking pictures of my kids and grandkids, and I hope to start making money on the side with photography. If not…that’s okay; I still have my hobby! My oldest is hooked now because of my interest in Photoshop!
      Maybe AARP subscribers can get a discount in the future…hate to discriminate against us old folks…lol…seriously! Talking from personal experience and being 57…medical bills do come and I expect more as I grow older (thankfully, nothing serious so far). Draw your own conclusions!
      Howard, thank you for your videos, and keep up the good work!

  • it may be beneficial for professionals but it is a nightmare for hobbyist

  • I can see the number of completely new people to Adobe going down fast owing to people not wanting to keep coughing up every month.

  • Garry Clayton

    I have to say that Adobe you just became as arrogant as both Quark and Apple. No one talks about Quark anymore and Apple is losing market share so fast that the Apple logo will be an Apple core in the next two years. The adobe arrogance has seen products like Serif and Corel take huge profits of late and it only serves that their software is going to get better and better that soon there will be no difference between the different platforms. Take into account the amount of customers Adobe has now lost and watch how pricey it becomes for current CC subscribers – they will have to make up the shortfall in profits. Then it’s bye bye for Adobe, the same way Apple is going. What they failed to see was that many students (millions actually) cannot afford the software and go to cheaper alternatives – these are the same people that will one day be designing the next generation of software. Piss them off at your own peril. You should have kept it the same way.

    My advice would have been this:

    Continue to make the Creative Suite but instead of bringing out updated versions – sell the updates in an Adobe store like add-ons. If you want, lets say ‘the new sharpening tool’ – allow customers to go on to the Adobe store and purchase it as an add on to their version of Photoshop or Illustrator etc. Allow the users to pick and choose which add ons they would like installed on their machines. Adobe would do a roaring trade on this and it’s more user friendly. Take photographers for example, they need industry specific tools for their job but they had to buy the whole package like the rest of us. Have add-ons for them, have add on for web designers etc. Make the software more flexible. There is so much potential there and it would allow Adobe to lower the overall price of individual products like Photoshop and then make money on the parts people want to buy. It’s not that hard to have a store that sells Photoshop parts to download. Also it would increase the sales for Adobe and make it more accessible to everyone. It would increase market share for the company overall.

    I hope someone from Adobe is reading this post as i would love to see this happen and would remain loyal to Adobe. I have spoken to many designer friends and they have all expressed a massive interest in this business model. They would love to have the freedom to be able to choose what they actually need instead of getting bloatware or having to get a subscription. Many are freelance and afraid of how this new stance by Adobe has affected their financial outlay. Some say it’s cheaper but these people might not upgrade to the new suites like many people didn’t from CS2. They have all said though, given the choice, they would opt for the ‘add-on’ approach every time. If you look at it sensibly, Adobe would make more in the long run but retain the customer base. It would also be a massive cull on the illegal downloaders as the software would be within their reach to buy and adapt it the way they need to – because lets face it, the only reason most download illegally is because a majority can’t afford the software int he first place. The remainder are just in it to be greedy or take a swipe at authority.

    I would love to hear some feedback from my post and speak to other like-minded people about this… maybe it’s something we could get together as a community and approach Adobe with.

  • CoryChass

    Your website is way to wide. It’s hard to read this way.

  • Howard, thanks for your thoughts on the CC. I’ll be very curious to see where the whole subscription model shakes out. I have a feeling that people are going to start getting subscription fatigue as more companies continue to offer their services on a monthly/yearly basis.

    • Adobe Creative Crowd – $50/month
    • DropBox 500Gb – $41/month
    • Internet – ~$30-100/month
    • Smart Phone – $60/month

    Plus there are TONS of more subscriptions such as Netflix, XBox Live, Cable TV, Pandora, etcetera that will ballon monthly expenses. Sure, some of these services are the price of doing business, but I have a feeling that the prosumers and casual users are going to be the first to buy an acceptable package that works for them and they can own. I really liked your lease to own idea as well, but we’ll see what happens when the dust settles. Who knows, maybe Google is ready to make a serious play in the creative software field.

  • Hey, remember the Adobe “discussion” about three years ago when they were floating the “cloud” thing? They thought $150/month was a fair price. It will work it’s way up to what they think is “fair”.

  • Alex Righetto


  • Vito Michael

    I believe that any companies that were looking to go subscription based,
    are now re-evaluating that idea in the wake of the uproar over Adobe.
    Do you (Adobe, et al) really think that users want to start adding
    monthly “rental” payments for all the software they are going to use?
    When will it stop? $20 for Photoshop, $xx for Office (which by the way
    has an option, subscription or perpetual license), $xx for WinRar/Zip,
    $xx for Nero, ad infinitum. That will add up to a ridiculous amount per
    month. Oh, and $xx for Windows. Please. Subscription may be viable as an
    option, but not as the only option.

    And as far as “updates
    galore”, we’ve yet to see how often (and without breaking the software)
    Adobe rolls out an update for Photoshop. At not just a little tweak to
    an existing option. They’ve always had pushed/downloaded updates for
    that. Now that I think about it, this “updates as we come up with them”
    could have been done on previous versions. So this update thing is a
    load of soft soap.

  • Perilous Liberty

    You’re f&%ked in the head. Perhaps, if Adobe actually charged a reasonable price for their software, more people could afford to purchase it. They are just ripping people off, especially the casual photographer/hobbyist. Not everyone who used CS was a pro making gazillions of dollars. A lot of use only upgrade every few version because we all cannot justify thousands of dollars for an upgraded toolbar.

    Screw them, I will continue to use CS4 until the end of time and Adobe, and you, can bite me.