The Adobe Creative Cloud is more than a powerful transfer and storage space, it's also a subscription-based gateway to let your creativity soar. With the introduction of CS6, Adobe is providing their customers with the option to either "lease" its most popular products with a paid subscription to the Adobe Creative Cloud, or to "own" the Adobe Creative Suite 6 Master Collection outright by purchasing a down-loadable or boxed version.
Floating in the Cloud
How does the Adobe Creative Cloud function? For a nominal monthly fee of only $49.99 (based on the yearly month-to-month payment plan), Adobe grants account holders full access to the Adobe Creative Suite 6 Master Collection with additional perks (see chart below for a complete listing of all the programs and services available when you subscribe to the Adobe Creative Cloud).
Through August 31, 2012, Adobe is also awarding their loyal users a special yearly month-to-month discount of $29.99 (check the Adobe Creative Cloud purchasing link for full details and restrictions). You can also opt for the month-to-month only membership to the Cloud for $74.99 a month. Compared to $49.99 (or even better, $29.99), on many levels, it is obviously monetarily advantageous to go with the yearly contract.
With the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, you get 20GB of online storage space, access to all programs within the Adobe Creative Suite 6 Master Collection, and Adobe's subscription only services (plus a one month's free membership to 3 of Adobe's 6 Touch Apps). More importantly, an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription allows users to download the full version of each program within the CS6 Master Suite. It is important to note that the software resides on your computer, with new features automatically added to the download queue the instant they become available. Furthermore, you have the option of downloading all of the programs at once, or download individual programs as the need arises.
For this review, I opted to download all the programs at one setting, and although I am on a fast cable modem, it still took me nearly 7 hours to download all the applications within the CS6 Master Collection (compared to an hour of download time for the non-Cloud version of the full CS6 Master Collection).
Upon install, I encountered errors with three programs. I was still able to open each of the three programs that flagged errors … however, until I actually work with the programs at length, I have no idea if the error messages will pose minor, major, or no problems within the three programs (check back for future reviews … and yes, I did pass the error reports along to Adobe).
Subscription to the Adobe Creative Cloud allows for programs to reside on up to 2 computers (primary and back-up). Furthermore, if you have two computers running different operating systems (Mac OS X & Windows OS), you can install the Adobe Creative Cloud programs on both operating systems. However, the product license states: you can install your applications on both [computers] as long as they are not running at the same time.
Sharing and Storing
When it comes to collaboration, Adobe Creative Cloud excels. The 20GB of online storage allows users to access and/or share their files from a multitude of devices, including: laptops, desktops, tablets, and between Macs and Windows PCs. It also allows users to store, edit, and share within different platforms, such as the Adobe Photoshop Touch (for tablets) and Adobe Photoshop CS6 (for computers).
The best part of the Adobe Creative Cloud storage function is the ability to collaborate with clients or co-workers on projects. Even if your collaborator is not an Adobe Creative Cloud subscriber, (with your permission) he or she can still access, and comment on, limited dedicated files within your Adobe Creative Cloud account.
The yearly membership to Adobe Creative Cloud also includes hosting for up to five Business Catalyst webBasics sites (created in either Dreamweaver or Muse). It is important to understand that the "5 free" Business Catalyst accounts applies to only the very basic Business Catalyst package.
Far more than a mere webhosting service, Business Catalyst is a powerful web-building, information gathering, and distribution tool. Yet, the webBasics package offered as one of the Adobe Creative Cloud benefits, is very narrow in scope … offering only a watered-down version of this powerful program. For additional monthly fees, you can upgrade to the fully-functional Business Catalyst and reap all the program's benefits.
Another advantage of opting for the Adobe Creative Cloud (over the traditional download or boxed versions of the Adobe Master Collection Suite) is the accessibility of new features and services the moment they become available. Although Adobe will continue to send updates and fixes to the traditional versions of their software programs, new features will now only be instantly available for the Cloud's applications.
The instant downloading option of new features and services will eventually lead to Adobe Creative Cloud's products becoming more powerful as the years go by. I predict that eventually the Adobe Creative Cloud applications will one day be so unique, that Adobe will have to differentiate between the traditional Adobe programs, and the Adobe Creative Cloud-based programs.
When your subscription expires … you have the option to either renew or decline renewal. Be cognizant that the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription is an Opt-Out contract, not an Opt-in contract. That means your subscription will automatically renew for either the monthly, or yearly, subscription fee if you do not decline the renewal.
If you decide to decline the renewal to your subscription, let Adobe know well in advance of your contract's expiration date. Also, be sure to backup all your files residing on the Adobe Creative Cloud's online storage service. At the very least, reduce your online files to 2GB (the limited allotted storage space for the free version of Adobe's Cloud).
If you do decided to end your Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, all the programs that you downloaded from the Adobe Creative Cloud will still reside on your computer, however, access to them will be revoked … in essence your programs will be rendered inoperable.
Obviously, you will still have access to all of the files that reside on your computer that you created using the Adobe Creative Cloud applications. When attempting to work on those files, in non-cloud-based Adobe programs, you may encounter minor glitches. This problem would only occur if your files contained functions and/or features only available through the Cloud's version of your program.
If you decide to renew your subscription at a later date, access is quickly re-instated to the programs residing on your computer via a new serial number. However, if your renewal is over 30 days, your online Cloud files in excess of 2GB may not be recoverable.
Before you make the yearly commitment, be sure to read the Adobe Creative Cloud's yearly contract's fine print: An annual subscription requires a commitment for the full year and monthly payments. If you decide to end a one-year membership before the 12-month period is over, you will be charged 50% of the remaining amount left on your contract.
Leasing Verses Owning
To own or to lease … that is the question … and also the biggest controversy in regards to the Adobe Creative Cloud. At a recent Adobe workshop, I was reprimanded by a youthful co-attendee for my over-enthusiastic opinions on software ownership. He passionately deemed any-and-all pessimistic concerns that I had in regards to Adobe Creative Cloud, and any apathy towards leasing of software, as archaic thinking.
I, personally, would call my hesitation to instantly jump onto the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription option as more cautious than archaic. I fully understand that we live in a world that revolves around long-term commitments: rental payments, cell phone and cable contracts, and Internet connectivity agreements. However, I, like many of my readers, have a proclivity to own things, especially when it comes to software.
Over the past 18 years, I have religiously upgraded to new versions of a majority of Adobe programs … so, in reality, I have been in a long-term, committed relationship with Adobe. The only difference between consistently paying for upgrades and opting for the subscription plan: when I own the software, I'm in control of when (or if) I want to upgrade to a specific new version; versus being under a contractual yearly obligation to do so … with nothing to possess for my expenditures at the end of the contract.
I propose that Adobe allow users to "own" older version of their leased software once a full new version becomes available … along with a one-year renewed subscription obligation. Or, perhaps, lease with the option to buy?
With that rant out of the way … after exploring the Adobe Creative Cloud, when it comes to leasing software, I'm slowly moving over to the "lease" side. Especially since two of my most desired Adobe programs are Muse and Story Plus ... which of course, are only available via subscription.
Putting things into perspective: a yearly month-to-month subscription to Muse and Story Plus costs just under $30 a month. For less than $20 more a month, I can access Muse, Story Plus, and the full versions of all of the programs residing within the Adobe CS6 Master Collection. Thus, if you too are interested in more than one of the new subscription-only based Adobe programs, it would be advantageous to go the Adobe Creative Cloud yearly subscription route.
The bottom line: the Adobe Creative Cloud yearly membership is not for everyone. Adobe realizes that fact, as they still provide a monthly lease option, as well as the traditional down-loadable or boxed versions of their most popular products. Although the Adobe Creative Cloud is not the perfect software solution for everyone, it does provide an excellent opportunity for creative minds to explore programs that would normally be out of their price range.
As with all major software purchases, it is important to read the fine print, and explore/weigh all your options. If, after exploration, you feel secure in making a long-term commitment … or just downright adventurous … the Adobe Creative Cloud is an outstanding value, as well as an excellent investment in your creative future.
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June 4, 2012
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