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Ready or not, compulsory Creative Cloud cometh

Adobe's controversial all-Creative Cloud transition for its Creative Suite applications is now available to subscribers.

Lori Grunin Senior Editor / Advice
I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.
Expertise Photography | PCs and laptops | Gaming and gaming accessories
Lori Grunin
3 min read
Photoshop CC adds the Camera Raw dialog as a filter you can apply after you've opened the file. Lori Grunin/CNET

It's been a bumpy few weeks for Adobe since announcing its controversial decision to move all its "perpetual license" Creative Suite applications to a subscription-only plan -- almost 32,000 people have signed a petition against the move and our own survey with Jeffries indicates that "Creative Suite users loathe Adobe's subscriptions" -- but as of Monday night it's officially here.

If you've bought into or opt to buy into the plan, you'll get a host of interesting application updates, settings sync via the cloud, and access to all of Adobe's applications if you cough up enough dough. However, the decision to opt in goes beyond a simple cost/benefit analysis. This business model requires that you enter it with an exit plan and a reliable internet connection. Which applications can you buy to do what you need if price increases become onerous or freelance cash flow puts you under water? Which file types won't transition well if you need to switch to another application?

I covered most of the pros and cons of signing up as well as the new features when the company first announced the plan, but I think one point bears repeating: anyone who doesn't represent a continuous income stream to Adobe is not its target user anymore. (Here's the pricing for plunging into that river.) I remember when I first started covering the company I asked a representative why Photoshop was so expensive. The gist of the response: the company wanted only professional customers for the product, and the high price acted as a filter. Creative Cloud is Filter 2.0.

The company is trying to create an ecosystem in which you engage via Behance, host your porfolio on ProSite and your Web site with Business Catalyst, and push the design envelope with its applications. The 80/20 photographer using Photoshop -- the 80 percent who use 20 percent of the features -- is not a viable business for Adobe anymore. As much as it might hurt your feelings, disrupt your workflow, and possibly hurt Adobe down the line, Adobe is dumping you for a richer girlfriend. Yes, there are a lot more fish in the sea, but breakups are still hard.

Dreamweaver's CSS Designer provides a much more visual, interactive method for working with CSS.

I'm still ambivalent about the whole thing. While it makes sense for me from a cost standpoint, there are several things I object to about the scheme, some practical, some philosophical. Since I wrote that last piece, I've thought of more. For instance, my Internet connection at home isn't fast or reliable enough to even download the software. I used to be able to download the software at work and take it home on a thumb drive; I won't be able to do that with CC, because it requires installation via the new control panel. One worry I had, that I couldn't use applications on two systems running the same operating system, is more or less unfounded: you can use a single application on two systems. as long as you don't use them at the same time. A reader also balked because he was worried about how monthly payments could be affected by cash flow. FYI, if you want, you can pay a year in advance, as long as you buy through a third party, like Amazon; just not through Adobe.

Corrected June 18, 2013.

I've had a little time to work with a couple of the updated applications, and the transition wasn't quite as seamless as I'd hoped. Dreamweaver still doesn't migrate your settings from the previous version the way Photoshop does, and my workspace settings became completely unsupported. I had my usual episode of upgrade rage when forced to figure out which files and directories had to be manually copied over because the previous method -- overwriting the entire configurations directory -- didn't work anymore. This is a downside (for Adobe) of the subscription model: if I were paying $50 a month for this I'd be out for blood. (At which point apologists would probably say, "Look how much you get for $50 a month! You should be grateful.") On the other hand, now that settings have moved to the cloud this should be the last time we should ever have to deal with version migration nightmares. Right, Adobe? Right?