Like many (dare I even say most?) print graphic designers, I rely on Adobe Creative Suite software to make my living. I use the big 3 + 1 every day: InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, plus Acrobat Pro. I sometimes use other programs in the suite such as Fireworks, Bridge, and Dreamweaver. I even offer one-on-one training in InDesign.
I like to stay updated on software. I often get files from other agencies, and I don’t want to have to ask them to “save the file back” to an old version. Saving back doesn’t always work, either, since it wipes out any newer features. I also appreciate the new features in the software: there is always something that makes my work easier or faster or better. In the past, that’s meant shelling out about $600 every 18 months or so to upgrade to the newest version. (Or a bit less to upgrade to the last half-version…but it was still a few hundred dollars all at once.)
Starting with CS6, Adobe has introduced a new way to pay for the software: Creative Cloud. It’s a misleading name: the software doesn’t really exist in the clould, although there are some online features. Basically, the cloud is a subscription model. Pay Adobe a certain amount each month and you get the right to download any or all CS6 software to your computer and use it…for as long as you keep paying the monthly subscription. You also get upgrades as they are released. If you stop paying for the subscription, you lose the ability to use the software.
I’m still deciding if Creative Cloud is the best option for me. I could live with access to only four programs, but I’ll have the ability to use a lot of others if I decide I want to. Because I own a current version of the suite, I’ll pay around $30/month for Creative Cloud this year, then around $50/month after that. At $50/month, that’s $600/year, not too much more than my upgrade costs have been over the past few years. But I get a little paranoid about not having the software disks as home in case there is a problem and I need to re-install. What if there is a glitch with my internet access for several days, or with my payment information? Murphy’s Law guarantees that the only time my Creative Cloud access would be shut off would be the day that I had a big project due. Maybe I’m just being paranoid.
There is a big bonus of the Creative Cloud if you work on both Mac and PC. Just like previous versions, the software is licensed per user, and one user can install the software on two computers (but not use both at once, since you are just one person, right?). But with Creative Cloud, you can download a PC version and a Mac version and install both. There, CC just saved you thousands of dollars if you need to use both.
So what do you think? Will you buy CS6 outright (yeah yeah, I know it’s always really a license, not a purchase, but you know what I mean) or will you switch and subscribe to Creative Cloud?