Let’s talk about the newest version of Adobe’s popular software suite, Adobe Creative Cloud. There are lots of great new features across the range of software that Adobe offers, but first let me explain what it is, what it isn’t, and why some people might be better served by running quickly to the Computer Connection in the Penn Bookstore to buy a copy of CS6 (the previous version) while it’s still available.
The name “Creative Cloud” is a little misleading. People assume that it means you run the Adobe apps in a web browser, or that you have to be online to use the software. But in fact, very little has changed since CS6. You still download your software from Adobe manually and install it on your machine, just like the versions before it. There are some cloud storage features and the ability to sync your data files across devices, just like Dropbox, but it’s otherwise essentially the same experience. Basically, when Adobe released the newest version of their software in the Spring, instead of naming it “CS7,” they named it “Creative Cloud instead.
This is the software Adobe includes in the Creative Cloud package:
Adobe Premiere Pro
|Acrobat XI Pro
Flash Builder 4.7 Premium
The GOOD thing about Creative Cloud is that there is no more “Design Standard” suite or “Web Premium” package where you only buy the software you want. Instead, Creative Cloud subscribers have access to ALL of the Adobe Software, and the to newest versions as they are released.
The BAD thing about Creative Cloud is that you HAVE to pay for all of the Adobe software, whether you use it or not. If you just need Photoshop and Illustrator, you still have to pay for Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Audition, Premiere, After Effects, etc.
The problem for most users is what I refer to as the “outrageous price.” Once upon a time, you just purchased your software outright and it was yours to keep forever (aka a “perpetual license”). But starting with Creative Cloud, Adobe has moved to a “subscription” model, where you pay a mandatory monthly fee for as long as you want access to the Adobe software. If you want to use ANY of the Adobe software included in CC, you must pay this monthly fee (note: the only exception I know of to this is Lightroom 5, which is available both as a perpetual license or as part of CC, thanks to the fact that Apple’s similar “Aperture” software provides competition.)
Here’s a comparison of the Educational prices (available over at the Computer Connection–Penn’s computer store, now located on the 2nd floor of the Penn Bookstore, right at the top of the escalator) of CS6 versus Creative Cloud:
|Design and Web Premium CS6 (Perpetual)
|Master Collection CS6 (Perpetual)
|Adobe Creative Cloud (monthly fee)
$30 / month
$360 / year
$1080 / 3 years
You can see why buying CS6 might be the more financially sensible option for most people.
Forward thinking folks that they are, the good people at the Computer Connection bought a whole bunch of CS6 licenses while they were still available so that Penn students, faculty, and staff would have the option of saving lots money. If you’re interested in buying CS6, ask one of the people working there.
At some point, compatibility issues will probably force everyone to upgrade from older versions, but given the huge cost in savings, I recommend staying with CS6 for as long as you’re able. (One caveat is that Adobe has said they won’t be tweaking CS6 versions of their software to work with new operating systems as they come out.)
So who should buy (subscribe to) Creative Cloud? The people it makes the most sense for are 1) people who were previously buying the Master Collection and upgrading it with every new release. For those people, Creative Cloud is actually a good deal. 2) people who need to have the newest version of the Adobe software. 3) people who need a specific new feature offered by one of the Creative Cloud Apps.
We’re still running CS6 right now, but we’ll have the Adobe Creative Cloud software in the Vitale Digital Media Lab starting this fall, so come down and give it a try. In the meantime, Lynda.com has a wealth of training videos on Adobe’s Software (including courses that specifically cover the new Creative Cloud features. Just look for the “Create Cloud Updates” courses), so come down to the lab and watch the videos for free to get a head start on using the new software.