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Survey: Why are you still using Adobe's old CS6 products?

It's time for a new look at what's important for the creative pros at the core of Adobe Systems' business. With CS6 software now 30 months old, is the Creative Cloud looking better?

Adobe's Creative Cloud subscriptions reached 2.81 million in its third fiscal quarter of 2014.
Adobe's Creative Cloud subscriptions reached 2.81 million in the third fiscal quarter of 2014. Stephen Shankland/CNET

When Adobe Systems unveiled its CS6 software, back in May 2012, it wasn't yet clear that the release would be the end of the line for software like Photoshop, Illustrator and After Effects.

But now Adobe updates those products only through its Creative Cloud subscription service, and the Creative Suite family, sold instead through traditional perpetual licensing, is falling steadily behind when it comes to features.

In a new survey of Adobe customers that CNET is running with RBC Capital Markets (and that you can take part in here), we're trying to find out what customers are doing about that. As with our earlier surveys, we'll publish follow-up coverage on the results so readers can see how their opinions compare to those of other respondents.

Subscriptions have been a massive change for Adobe. The company gets steady revenue and can issue frequent, modest updates to its products. But the approach has alienated many customers who don't care for the new pricing strategy.

The Creative Cloud subscription costs $50 per month for the company's full suite of software for a full-year commitment; the price rises to $75 for a single month's use with no longer-term commitment. People can also pay $20 a month for an individual title, such as Premiere Pro for video editing. Creative Cloud customers don't have to pay for upgrades, as they did when they shelled out for a new version of a CS product, but if they stop paying the subscription fee, the software stops working.

Adobe still sells CS6 in perpetual-license form. The full CS6 Master Suite costs $2,600 and Photoshop CS6 alone costs $700.

However, Lightroom Mobile, some new GPU acceleration abilities, Photoshop's new focus masking and many other new features are available only through updates available to Creative Cloud subscribers. Adobe also has introduced new tools like Edge and Muse with the subscription.

Plenty of CNET readers have vented their displeasure about the Creative Cloud move. But Adobe hasn't budged on its subscription shift since it announced in May 2013 that there would be no more CS updates. The biggest concession is a relatively affordable $10-per-month plan that combines Photoshop, Lightroom, Lightroom Mobile and access to the Behance social network.

Creative Cloud subscriptions continue to climb. At the end of Adobe's fiscal third quarter, the company had signed up 2.8 million Creative Cloud subscribers, and Adobe's stock is trading at its all-time high. If subscribers like the value of what they're paying for, they renew, and investors like companies with steady revenue.

Expect Adobe to release updated subscriber numbers on December 11, when it reports financial results for its fiscal fourth quarter. But don't expect the company to break out how many subscriptions were for the full CC suite, how many were for the less expensive Photoshop Photography Program and how many for other single products. Another question is how many are individual subscriptions compared with the more expensive but more elaborate team-oriented version that costs $70 per month.