Adobe closed the door on the Creative Suite at its Adobe MAX conference this morning, announcing that it's moving to an all-subscription model and dropping the existing branding of its Creative Suite software products. Starting in June, new versions of Adobe's CS software will be available only online, and only as part of a Creative Cloud subscription.
That's right — say goodbye to After Effects CS6 and say hello to After Effects CC.
You'll still be able to buy CS6 products, if you really want them — for the time being — but you won't get the latest and greatest, such as all of the new features that were showcased at NAB last month. If you want to stay current with Adobe's line-up, you'll be spending at least $49.99/month for an individual subscription to Creative Cloud with 20 GB of cloud storage (existing users of CS3 or later will get a discounted rate of $29.99/month for the first year) or $69.99/month per seat for a "team" version that comes with 100 GB of storage plus "centralized deployment and administration capabilities" (existing users with a volume license get a rate of $39.99/month per seat between now and August 31). The $49.99 month pricing requires a one-year commitment; users who cancel pay a penalty of 50 percent of the remainder of their contract. Note that the fee gets you access to everything, not just the video apps. All subscribers have access to Photoshop, Dreamweaver, InDesign, and more. (Subscriptions will be available for individual pieces of software, but they're not likely to be cost-effective for pro users.)
The move is almost guaranteed to be controversial, especially among users who try to save money on software by skipping the annual upgrade process, or for those who worry about the security implications of putting high-value assets to the cloud. But for users who already stay up to date with Adobe's product releases, the effective annual fee of $840 per seat on a team will look pretty good, especially if they're looking to take advantage of some of the new Creative Cloud features announced today. Those features include access to what Adobe said is $25,000 worth of professional fonts on the desktop through TypeKit, which should appeal to anyone who's built a logo or a title sequence in Premiere Pro or After Effects.
Many Creative Cloud features are design-oriented. Adobe announced Kuler for iPhone, an app that lets you grab interesting color palettes from your environment by pointing your iPhone's camera at something in the real world that catches your eye. Coming soon are a pair of "cloud-enabled hardware" products in development: Mighty, a Bluetooth-connected "smart stylus" for drawing, and Napoleon, a kind of "digital ruler" that, when touched against a tablet screen, helps users draw precisely by displaying shapes for them to trace. Creative Cloud also includes a free subscription to Behance Prosite, a personal portfolio site builder that cost $99 per year before Adobe purchased the company in 2012 and is now integrated with the CC suite of applications.
The company sought to fend off as many objections as it could, noting that desktop applications will remain usable even without an Internet connection. Users will be expected to connect to the web every 30 days to validate their software licenses, but Adobe says products will work offline for 180 days. Adobe is also customizing separate versions of the subscription for business users who can't use the cloud, such as some governmental and educational institutions. A single Creative Cloud membership also lets you install your software on two different machines with cross-platform privileges, meaning you can load up your PC workstation as well as your MacBook Pro. And older versions of all the apps will remain available, beginning with CS6, just in case you need to fall back to an older version for a particular project.
Of course, under the new plan, if you stop paying for the Creative Cloud subscription, you'll no longer have any version at all to fall back on. But the files stored on your own computer are yours to keep, and Adobe is allowing users a 90-day grace period after their membership lapses to download their work, or at least get their online stash down to the 2 GB that comes with a free Creative Cloud membership.
For more information, including details on different membership plans and a detailed FAQ, visit: www.adobe.com/products/creativecloud.html