Adobe Photoshop: All Cloud, All the Time

Update: May 28, 2013: Photographers around the world have been reacting to Adobe’s move to the Creative Cloud. It sounds like the company might have something in the works in response to complaints and concerns. http://blogs.adobe.com/creativecloud/our-move-to-creative-cloud-an-update/

Hang onto your current version of Photoshop, keep those Creative Suite disks safe, ladies and gentlemen, because Adobe announced at Adobe Max what we knew was coming. Adobe Photoshop (and other components of the software formerly known as Creative Suite) will be subscription-based only and have now been re-branded as CC products.

So forget Photoshop Creative Suite; it’s now Photoshop CC.

Launched in May, 2012 and originally marketed as a way to deliver software updates and improvements on a more regular schedule, Adobe has updated Photoshop and other applications on Creative Cloud—updates that were allegedly going to be incorporated into the standalone Creative Suite software when the next perpetual license version (CS7) was released. At least that’s what we were led to believe when CC was first launched.

But that’s not going to happen. While CS6 will continue to be “supported,” we don’t know for how long. Obviously, you’ll be able to use your current version unless or until you update your operating system to a version with which it’s not compatible (although Adobe might keep CS6 compatible with updated operating systems but we and they don’t know for sure). At this point, Photoshop CS6 users will be able to update to ACR 8 (Adobe Camera Raw) when it becomes available since Adobe is still selling CS6, but it will be only for new camera support and not for the new features that will be available to CC subscribers via the same update (see the Photoshop Features section below). However, one can expect that there will come a time that the only way to get ACR support for new cameras will be by subscribing to Photoshop Creative Cloud (CC).

ACR started out as a $99 (I was mistaken; ACR was never free) standalone download until the next new Photoshop release came along, then it was rolled into the full version. Once it was incorporated into the software application and no longer available as a standalone app, users had to upgrade to the latest Photoshop release in order to gain ACR support for new cameras, a practice that has always been annoying—and costly—for those who update their gear on a regular basis.

With standalone, perpetual license software, users can—and do—legally (with limitations) transfer or sell their license key/disks and use the money from the sale to purchase a newer version of the application or suite that is not available at an upgrade price. (Note that it is not legal to use the license that you sold to quality for an upgrade price.). That won’t be possible with Creative Cloud. Granted, we don’t know if CC subscriptions can be transferred but there would be no reason to do so unless you simply wanted to opt out of using the software.

On the plus side, you can still install the software on two computers and since CC is cross-platform, you don’t have to purchase Mac and Windows versions as you would with Creative Suite in order to cover both platforms in your workflow.

Obviously, the main benefit is getting software updates and improvements on a regular basis and we’ve listed some of the latest updates below. And the subscription model makes good sense for those individuals and groups who want to take advantage of new and updated features as soon as possible.

How does it work?

You need to download and install the apps on your computer and that’s where the software lives. Your current version of Photoshop, or other CS applications, do not have to be uninstalled; they’ll continue to work even with CC software on the same computer (there have been some issues with CS6 reverting to a trial version after the CC install but Adobe should have fixed that issue by now). And, you do not have to be online for CC to work.

However, you do have to connect to the internet to verify that your license is still active. We’re still trying to clarify some requirements with Adobe since details have changed a little since the launch. What we do know is that you will be asked to connect to the web to validate your software licenses every 30 days. Those with an annual membership will be able to use the software for 99 days without logging on.

That’s a minor annoyance for those who work in a studio or at home where an internet connection is always at hand. What about photographers who sometimes travel to remote locations for long periods of time? They may be out of luck unless they have a standalone version of Photoshop installed as well.

Pricing

The best Creative Cloud pricing is based on an annual subscription. You’ll pay more for month-to-month leasing of the software. Prices also depend on how many applications you want to access, whether you choose an individual or team membership or are a student or teacher.

Adobe is currently offering special promotional prices for current Creative Suite users. If you have a serial number or have registered your CS3, CS4, CS5 or CS6 product (Photoshop or the entire suite, for example), your first year will cost $10 a month with an annual contract. Access to a complete subscription for CS6 users is $20/month for the first year; $30 for CS3 and later.

Other pricing ranges from $20/month to $70/month. For pricing options, click here.
30-day trial versions are available.

Photoshop CC New Features

The latest version of Photoshop CC, which will be available to subscribers in June, will incorporate the features found in Photoshop Extended as well as a number of other new options.

One of the hot new features is Camera Shake Reduction. This tool is designed to work specifically on blur caused by camera shake. It’s not a miracle worker, so don’t expect to get a sharp image if your lens didn’t lock in focus or your subject was moving. However, in our briefing with Adobe, this tool is very easy to use and seems to work quite well at bringing images back into focus. And, the deblur can be applied selectively to multiple areas.

Along with Camera Shake Reduction, Photoshop CC offers a completely revamped Smart Sharpen function and Upsampling options. Larger, resizable dialogue boxes for sharpening features make it much easier to fine-tune adjustments. There are a number of great online Photoshop classes that go into great detail for how to use these new features.

Adobe Camera RAW 8 brings with it (for CC subscribers only) the same Upright, Advanced Healing Brush and Radial Gradient tools that are available in the Lightroom 5 Beta. More importantly, Camera Raw can now be used as a filter so you can easily apply ACR adjustments to any layer of an image or even a video.

In addition, Photoshop now works in concert with Behance, a social network photo sharing site. By integrating Behance, users can more easily share and comment on images and projects without leaving Photoshop.

To see some of the new features in action, check out these videos on Camera Shake Reduction and Terry White’s Top 5 Features in Adobe Photoshop CC.

The Bottom Line

We’re living in an increasingly cloud-based world but Adobe’s bold move to a subscription-only model may be too bold and too soon for many photographers and designers. Not every photographer—whether a pro or a hobbyist or somewhere in between—can afford (or wants) to commit to an ongoing cost for software. How many of you update Photoshop every time a new version is released? Or are you more likely to update every other version or so, making your major software investment last 2-3 years? My guess is that many—or perhaps most—of you reading this article fall into the latter category.

While the math may work in favor of, or come out equal to, purchasing a perpetual license version of Photoshop for one year, over the long haul, those who, in the past, haven’t updated regularly for standalone versions will have to dig into their pockets more frequently. Or, for the time being, switch to Lightroom. (When I asked during a briefing, I was told that Lightroom 5 will be available in a standalone, shrink-wrapped version. But who knows for how long?)

Of course, Creative Cloud ensures Adobe a continuous revenue stream and even the stock market sees this as evidenced by the rise in Adobe’s stock after the announcement. And that’s good for Adobe, but is it good for Photoshop users? Maybe for some, especially given that updates and new features can be rolled out and delivered on a regular basis. Adobe claims that more than 2.5 million people have subscribed to Creative Cloud in the first ten months of its existence, so the company is doing something right.

It’s definitely not good for all of us. I guess what bothers me most is that choice has been taken out of the equation.

What do you think? Will you be subscribing to the Creative Cloud? 

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    • It goes without saying that this is very unfriendly to the casual user/hobbyist. I much prefer purchasing outright than entering into an essentially perpetual rental agreement. If this sticks, I think it will split users into 2 camps, those who are professionals and use the product to increase their income, and others. The others will have strong incentives to downshift to a lessor product, or find something that fits their needs but may not be as complete or "standard" as PS. It also opens the door, at least a crack, to non-Abode products with Photoshop aspirations.

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    • For the limited time promotional pricing--including $10/single application for the first year option, please go here:

      https://creative.adobe.com/plans?plan=offers

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    • re the offer above - that's $10 per month

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    • Yes, that's $10 a month for a single application for the first year for those who own CS3, CS4, CS5, CS5.5 or CS6. It's a limited time promotion, though; I don't know how long it will last.

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    • Keep in mind that you need to commit for a year, even with the monthly subscription. 

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    • Not for me.  I do not like anything to do with the cloud, whether Adobe, Apple or anyone else. Let me manage my own stuff with my own redundant backups and equipment.   As a hobbyist, I use both CS6 and LR4.  CS6 is used very little, only when I want pixel work.  LR4 is used the most and maybe I'll get LR5 (don't want to upgrade to OS 10.7 or higher - happy with OS 10.6.8).  I can live with LR4 for years as those little upgrade tweaks are incrementally less beneficial.  Owning it at $100 an upgrade is not bad when you skipped a generation.  Locking into another monthly payment or checking with the "cloud" to allow me to use the program is something I do detest and will avoid.

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    • $10/month (£9/month in the U.K.) is still too much, and that's the

      SPECIAL INTRODUCTORY OFFER!!!

      for one application, not the whole suite.  Adobe seems to be boxing itself in.  The new versions don't really offer more creative potential, they offer more resuscitation for badly taken photographs.  That's mainly for a subset of the professionals, the cheap and dirty ones.  jamie

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    • I've used PS professionally since v4 (well, 3.05 actually) and I find this new paradigm to be unpalatable. It appears I will do without future upgrades, which will be of little consequence really since the "advances" of late have been mostly fluff.

       I believe this move is an ill-advised, bean counter driven ploy to generate a more constant revenue stream. I see precious little benefit and a fairly significant downside.

       No thanks.

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    • I suppose cloud based cameras bundled with monthly fees are next. 

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    • What bothers me the most is paying for a service I will not, ever, use: cloud storage of my data. Adobe's own VP admitted (on the DP Review site) that this isn't a good deal for photographers! This is shameful by Adobe, and for those of us with a significant library of PSD files it will, eventually, force our hand. Very, very bad move Adobe.

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    • The only thing useful out of a cloud is rain! 

      How will this effect PhotoShop Elements?  Does anyone know?

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    • Some observers say this marks Adobe's transition from a product company into service company. That's where the fun starts since mention of Adobe "support" usually elicits laughs from anyone who uses their software.

       Seems obvious that Adobe could also take a page from mobile phone carriers and offer knock-down camera pricing with a fixed term contract. Sound familiar?

      In all, a great opportunity for companies and developers who stand to benefit if Adobe's customers balk.

      Should also boost Elements and LR5 sales.

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    • What about folks that live in remote areas like me?   I live on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean (poor me-violins ;-) , and my internet connection is far from good.   Guess I'm stuck with CS6 forever.   My advice?  Adobe, I love you.  But learn from what happened with Microsoft and Windows 8.  Coke & "new" Coke.  At least make the option of buying a disk available.

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    • Never liked 'Cloud', now dislike it even more. Don't like auto updates of any kind. The basic Photoshops of the past will do me as long as my computer supports it.

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    • As a Photoshop author and former Adobe tester (this is the first beta since CS1 I haven't tested) I've never paid for Adobe products. I've had them for 20 years as part of the deal. Now as I head into aged photographic indulgence (retirement) I finally have to cough up. I was hoping for one more go round before my light fails... Personally I can't complain..

      I suspect that many current CS Suite owners will pay a subscription for the the App they use most. The cheapest subscription offer. For the rest they will not upgrade and continue to use the other Apps as currently installed. Many offset houses are still running on CS3 suites.

      I might pay a subscription for Photoshop. The rest Dreamweaver, Illustrator etc, I don't really need. I'll continue to use my CS6 Master Suite till the wheels finally come off. I'll be well and truly retired by then..

      The thing that really is annoying is it appears that subscriptions vary in cost depending where on the planet you are. The delivery is the same where ever you live. There are no transport costs or packaging. Adobe that is NOT right.

      Also people like to own what they pay for. They don't really like to be forced into a permanent rental merely to do their work.

      I suspect that someone will hack the monthly login and it will be available on Pirate Bay before you subscribe.

      There are possibly some Photoshop wannabe developers out there rubbing their hands with glee right now. Pixelmator for one.. Especially if they can get the plugin guys on board in the next couple of years. Be careful Adobe..  Remember Quark..  it may happen to you..

      I won't store any of my images anywhere in the ether. There is too much legal pilfering. To that end I have pulled the plug on all social networking. Facebook Suicide is painless. They're not real friends anyway..

      So Adobe doesn't get the FB thumbs up like for this.

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    • This is rubbish.  Where is the competition?

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    • I have never owned Photoshop. Most of what I do is just LR work. But now, I will buy a CS6 license while I still can and use CS6. It'll be enough for the rest of my life to try and figure out all the things I want from CS6. I will never pay a perpetual license fee, not for Adobe, not for Office 365, not for NetSuite. I pay for CrashPlan, $50/year for unlimited storage and that is a really good deal, but I am not dependent on it. I can cancel it at any point and use my own tripple backup system (which I maintain). But to pay for something in perpetuity ... never. And I am in the software business. You think this is bad? Wait till they starts "upgrading" and things you depended on slightly change or dissapear for deemed better features. And since you have no control over the builds, you will have to change your processes to accomodate them. It's going to be a disaster. Good riddance...

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    • I can't believe how quick Adobe stopped supporting CS4 then 5. You pay all this money then they give you the finger quick. Now this?

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    • TERRIBLE idea!

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    • Would anyone like to organise a petition to Adobe, complaining about this intended change? It might change their mind, or at least add the alternative of purchasing a licensed stand alone product.  And in the meantime, try Serif's Photoplus X5 or X6.

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    • I have been using the CC Suite for a bit now.  I LOVE it.  I know I constantly have the latest updates of everything and all of the support I need or want.   It also ...IMHO is a better value.  I can afford to put out a monthly amount vs. putting out 2k+ for the entire suite of software.  It may workout over all to be approx the same but... this is GENIUS in my book.   If you are a pro/  then it just makes sense.  To the hobbyist/ casual user.  Certainly I can see how it would not be the most desirable.  But... the old software is still available.   And will continue to be for a long time.  Heck I still have Photoshop 3 and 4.... I'm quite sure there are plenty of options for those who dont wish to take advantage.  I have been very happy with my subscription.  EMBRACE CHANGE!  Good job Adobe ! 

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    • There is already a petition at change.org. I've signed, but don't expect it to do any good.

      https://www.change.org/petitions/adobe-systems-incorporated-eliminate-the-mandatory-creative-cloud-subscription-model

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    • Re Sara: The worst part of the deal is that if, after 10 years of subscriptions, you decide you don't want or need more features, you end up, not with the last version you paid 10-years-worth of fees for, but *nothing*. If they solved that problem, it might be palatable.

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    • Let those that are happy with the change be happy. The first time Adobe makes a change that impacts results or workflow, those who like it now will be in the camp to keep things stand-alone. It's why I use a BlackBerry versus an Android or Apple device. I want to retain my workflow and my data and not be governed by someone who thinks they know better and are not exposed to the real world and introduce impossible software.

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    • Time to look at Apple for my digital Photo work!

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    • I for one will not be subscribing. I will be looking at other product options. There is no way I will pay the price Adobe is charging.

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    • Re Sara: The worst part of the deal is that if, after 10 years of subscriptions, you decide you don't want or need more features, you end up, not with the last version you paid 10-years-worth of fees for, but *nothing*. If they solved that problem, it might be palatable


      I believe that if you have CS5 or CS6 and you take out CC subs and stop the subs later, you will still have the last version you purchased before CC.

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    • Adobe customer service is pathetic now.  I can not even imagine how they will deal with problems that will occur with this new business plan.

      I want nothing to do with Cloud based computing.  

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    • Are the cloud updates now going to default to installations of weed ware like the ASK toolbar and Chrome?

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    • Lease to own becomes "lease to never own" with Adobe. No thanks. I'll use CS6 for now and search for a solution that doesn't require payments for life when I need to upgrade.

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    • I'm very annoyed: at myself for not buying the cs6 upgrade when it was available on cd, and at Adobe for Choosing this route. It looks like l'll have to upgrade my os as well. 

       

       

       

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    • I upgraded to CS6 from CS3 in a rush when I knew this was about to happen. I expected it.  From Adobe perspective this will even out the cash flow, which is very important if you are to stay in business and to put out products. I wanted to not have to spend a huge amount of money into the infinite future if I am not raking in a big amount of money using their product, since I am not a full time graphic designer nor full time making money by being a photographer. (Of course I could be a full time photographer when the next round of layoffs is announced at my technology company, that you know all too well).  This CC does allow someone to get access to the entire suite of applications for less money than actually purchasing the product. However, this could be a big issue for sporatic users that use it occasionally and will have to endure the monthly billing. For this reason I am about to cancel my Netflix - no time to watch. Another issue that is salient fact that de facto Adobe relied on the black market for cracks that allowed people to train on their products, developing skills, while preventing alternative solutions to be developed a' la Gimp which has not gone much further in many years. I have not had time to spend any time developing code for these GNU projects which I could do but have little inclination. This could change with the new licensing model. 

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    • There are other programs available, which will be fine for most hobbyists. I use Zoner Photo Studio 15 which is inexpensive and powerful, it does all I need. 

      Also for those of you with Linux or Mac OS there is a free open source program under development, Darktable which although at a fairly early stage of development,(version 2.1 was released in April 2013) has the potential to challenge Adobe in time

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    • My first Photoshop (3.something) was a revelation. Lately, not so much. Pretty much everybody offers a similar suite of tools, usually with a better interface. I don't mind cloud services, but a monthly fee forever is a step way too far. So long, Adobe. 

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    • There are plenty of alternatives, for example

      http://photo-editing-software-review.toptenreviews.com/

      I use lightroom, but for a total editing package I use Paint Shop Pro, got it online on special for $49.

      I think people over the year have been so stuck with photoshop that they missed the boat on other stuff out there

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    • I don't support this change.  It's not that I'm against cloud software.  The fundamental idea is good and very appropriate for certain circumstances. 

      I see a few key issues with this particular plan for Photoshop users. 

      First, the price is more expensive this way.  If you regularly upgraded PS in the past, the upgrades have come about every 18 months or so and the recent price for that upgrade is $199.  That's just over $10/month.  Permanent pricing for cloud based Photoshop is $20/month.  So, the new approach is roughly twice the cost!

      Second, I don't want to have to pay in perpetuity to access my OLDER files.  We are not talking about sales force automation software in the cloud (like Salesforce.com) or HR software in the cloud like Workday; we are talking about software used to create art.  What happens when you want to go back and access, reprint, re crop, or otherwise edit an older image, must you pay yet again to access something you've already processed?  Apparently, Adobe's answer to this question is YES, you must pay.  And pay, and pay, and pay....forever!

      I have Three suggestions for Adobe. 

      First, offer pricing that is in line with previous pricing.

      Second, offer a per minute or per hour rate that accommodates hobbyists and low volume users. 

      Third, only charge users for processing new images and allow us, even if our subscription has lapsed, to process previously worked images in perpetuity.

      Otherwise, Adobe, your new pricing is out of line and I don't accept an approach that will hold me and my images hostage in the future. 

      From what I'm reading online, it seems that many others are rejecting this scheme as well.

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    • Disgusting. Pure greed by Adobe

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    • At home, I use Lightroom and Corel's Paint Shop Pro, which fills my needs as a photographer.  

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    • In this part of the world, Photoshop etc etc is very expensive to buy...well over four figures. We are all leaping for joy here. The monthly fee is the same as for the US..$10-20 etc. It represents a massive saving for us here.

       

      A trap for the unwary, though. Our IT guy has told us to delete older, unlicensed versions as it's his understanding that Adobe will be activating a little applet asking for license verification. This is done supposedly in the background, so I am trying to verify this.

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    • The move to "all cloud, all the time" is a blunder of the first rank.  For those of us who only want a few apps, and prefer to stay with a version for as long as possible to avoid having to re-learn interfaces that have been pointlessly tweaked in order to justify a new version, the subscription costs a lot more and makes the user experience worse. Unless Adobe realizes this soon and CC goes the way of New Coke -- an option for those who like it, not forced down everyone's throats as the only choice -- I predict that they will lose their place as de facto standard for image processing.  For my part, I've reconsidered my purchase of CS6.  The price increase and uncertain future of the perpetually-licensed software made me revisit the options and discover that there really are other products that are on a par, meet my needs, and are much cheaper.

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    • That is how they see the business. I can't imagine myself to use anything else, but I'm sure that other companies will come and offer what ADOBE lost (although they do not look frustrated with all that negative feedback which was quite predictable). So if I need - I pay. But as I surely don't like the move and the attitude to the customers, I will switch to another PRO program if it will be available and comparable.

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    • Michael Raddatz  wrote 'I suppose cloud based cameras bundled with monthly fees are next.'

      I think that's called a phone nowadays Michael!

       

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    • I really can't justify that kind of ongoing expense, and really dislike the idea of having to deal with the cloud.  I'm just not a "renter."  I will be paying attention to other brands of software for the future.  I'm not using all that much that CS6 offers as it is.  Odds are very strong adobe has lost another customer.

       

      Kent in SD

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    • Next version of The Gimp will be 24, 32 &64 bit by channel, I already thinking to completly swith to it before the Adobe announcement,  this nail it.

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    • This new business model doesn't look good to me and I'm sure it will not appeal to amateurs, part timers or even professionals who don't use or need all the features and potential of Photoshop CS or don't use it to a great extent.


      Perhaps the big photography companies, graphic artist studios or publishing companies with teams of their employees working all the time on image preparation will be okay with Creative Cloud.


      But amateurs like me who only use it lightly will be saying good-bye to it. I am currently using CS5 and have been using this product since Photoshop 7. I used upgrade it every second release. It was expensive for the amount of use I gave it but I was willing to spend that because I considered Photoshop a superior product.


      My use of Photoshop reduced even more since I started using Lightroom.  This change to Creative Cloud will mean good bye from me to Photoshop when my current version of CS5 stops working.


      This action by Adobe concerns me because if they change the way they are deliver Photoshop to the customer my worry is Lightroom may be next which would be even worse.


      It is a great business opportunity for one of the other companies to step into this gap in the market.


      There is also an opportunity for Adobe to reconsider their pricing models and figure out a pricing structure by which light users - amateurs, part timers, smaller professionals etc - can tap into using Adobe Photoshop without paying the same price as large professional companies would pay.

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    • I was about to upgrade to CS6 when this came about. Not any more.

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    • It's a competitive market. Adobe will have to adjust because the market will force them. I'm trying CC but I'm looking at other programs that offer similar photoshop features. 

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    • It's a competitive market. Adobe will have to adjust because the market will force them. I'm trying CC but I'm looking at other programs that offer similar photoshop features. 

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