New upgrade options for CS3 and CS4 customers

In November Adobe announced Creative Cloud subscriptions, a new combination of CS desktop apps, cloud services, and touch tools. Unfortunately, on the whole we’ve done a poor job of explaining the real benefits to customers, leading to considerable confusion & concern. I’m sorry for the pain that’s resulted.

First, let’s be clear: Adobe does well when you do well.  Subscriptions have to be good for customers, or they’re not going to be good for Adobe–period.

What sucks is that the very real advantages of subscriptions (most notably, faster access to feature improvements) have gotten drowned out by the perceived disadvantages.  The whole story is clumsy because Adobe hasn’t announced a CS6 version, or any real details about pricing, etc.  Now’s not the time for that (sorry–I wish we could share more right now), so I can only ask for your patience.  Subscriptions will be more interesting & attractive than you might think, so please stay tuned.

Meanwhile, I’m pleased to say that Adobe has announced a new introductory upgrade offer for customers using CS3/CS4:

  • The old deal: If you were on CS4 or earlier at the time CS6 shipped, getting a subscription would be the only way to upgrade to CS6.
  • The new deal: If you’re on CS3 or CS4 when CS6 ships, you’ll have until the end of 2012 to upgrade to CS6.  You can of course choose a subscription option, and we think you’ll want to.
  • Bottom line: During 2012, you don’t have to buy CS5 just to buy CS6.

As I say, please do stay tuned, and please let us know what you think.


[Update in response to comments below: If you recently purchased CS 5.5 and have questions/concerns about that order in relation to this upgrade announcement, please contact customer service so that they can assist you.]


120 thoughts on “New upgrade options for CS3 and CS4 customers

  1. Thanks Adobe! I was an owner of a CS4-Suite and I have bought a 5.5-Suite.
    Do you want to piss off your customers?

    1. You too Markus? Yes me as well… 🙂
      I upgraded to CS5 when the news first broke, so at least I could get the maximum (albeit truncated in cycle-time terms) utility out of my purchase before the upgrade to CS6 arrived.
      Ironically, it has been my habit to always upgrade on every iteration until CS4 where I thought I would hang fire and skip CS5. Silly me.

    2. Yes, how about the customers who bought into the previous arrangement, after being told they had until the end of december 2011 to upgrade at an affordable price to CS5.5, just to be eligible for an upgrade to CS6?

      1. I’m in the same boat.
        This reversal in Adobe’s new upgrade policy is great for those that didn’t listen to Adobe’s threat that those who hadn’t upgraded to CS5 or CS5.5 would be left without an upgrade path to CS6.
        I wanted to wait until CS6 because of the lack of new features for Photoshop in CS5.5 but I upgraded to CS5.5 from CS3 because Adobe changed their upgrade policy. Now they change it again so that I could have just waited.
        I feel like I was misled and tricked by Adobe into purchasing a product I didn’t need or really want. I hope Adobe offers very good pricing for those with CS5.5 because otherwise this may very well be the last Adobe product I purchase.

  2. So what happens if this year financially sucks and we small studios (me) don’t have the resources to spend what will amount to > $500/yr. for the privilege of keeping up on the latest and greatest from Adobe?
    We will be stuck with CS5 and when the newer cameras come out with all the new camera raw, Adobe make the new Adobe camera raw backward compatible to the old versions. This will eventually force small businesses to go to the proprietary camera raw software that comes with their cameras. Most of them suck and it will add extra work flow.
    Many of the plug-ins will have to be upgraded and as that happens, the plug-in companies won’t make their latest plug-ins backward compatible either.
    This whole ‘subscription’ thing is Adobe’s way of keeping money rolling in. When you have no competition, you can do this kind of thing.
    I’m going to upgrade to CS6 and then hopefully, some person/company will see the kind of market that will be made by this Adobe bumble. More and more will be (and are today) using LR for most of their processing and will go 100% and forget about PS.
    When Adobe sees this happening, they will then start planning (they probably already are) how to make LR a ‘subscription’ so they will make up for the lost CS6 sales. Then there won’t be any choice.
    I know if I was the only portrait studio in the state, I could charge just about anything. I guess when Adobe is the only horse in the world, they can charge/do whatever they want!
    I have worked and known Julieanne Kost for about a decade and have followed Photoshop from it’s inception. I have upgraded from the first version (2.5.1) all the way to CS5 now. When I think of Adobe, I think of the great people I respect…….Julieanne, Russell Brown, Terry White and the great global people that promote Adobe like Scott Kelby, Katrin Eismann, and many, many terrific people…….Today, Adobe is no longer the company I’ve come to know, but is another corporate giant that is only after one thing…. the bottom line. If I had a bunch of Adobe stock, I’d dump it now, because the backlash is going to be like the Netflix debacle.

    1. Can’t owners of newer cameras that are not supported in an older version of Camera Raw convert the RAW files to DNG using the latest version Adobe’s free DNG converter. and then open the DNG files in older versions of Photoshop/Adobe Camera Raw?

        1. Thanks for the information about the article, James. I just read it. It is definitely interesting and informative.
          I don’t think the article negates the usefulness of DNG conversion for people who buy a new camera but not a new version of Photoshop. The fact that a photo renders a bit differently in different versions of DNG converter is unimportant since the converted file is just the starting point in adjusting to what the photographer envisions as the final version of the photo. Unless I have misread the article, all of the sensor readings are contained in the DNG file and the photographer can thus produce the same final product no matter what version of DNG converter or Photoshop he or she uses.
          Yes, it would be nice if everything worked together seamlessly, but that is never going to happen as long as many different companies independently develop new and improved products.
          Also, while having to buy new editions of the Creative Suite to get new features may entail spending money 0ne would prefer to spend on other things, having up to date tools costs money no matter what profession one is in.

  3. John, I appreciate your comments and I appreciate the line you have to walk between being an advocate for your customers and an employee of Adobe, but please don’t insult my intelligence by telling me that Adobe’s move towards subscriptions is anything other than a money grab.
    A subscription to Production Premium at $85 a month (for a yearly subscription–monthly is significantly more expensive) works out to $1020 a year. For new customers, a two year subscription will cost just as much as if they’d bought the full version this year and then bought the upgrade to the latest and greatest version next year (about $2100, or $88 a month). For current customers, a subscription is more expensive than upgrading to the latest version every year ($400, or $33 a month). Subscriptions are even more expensive than buying the FULL version every two years ($1600, or $67 a month over two years).
    And all my math is based on the cheapest subscription model you offer (year-to-year). For month-to-month contracts, your customers are really getting screwed.
    No amount of spin will change the fact that subscriptions are going to cost your customers more money (sometimes a _lot_ more) than the old model. And with subscriptions, of course, your customers have to keep on paying. With _real_ software you buy it once and use it until there’s a compelling reason to pay for an upgrade.

  4. After purchasing the Master suite CS5 upgrade and suffering through the multiple, massive, poorly named downloads, I vowed to buy only boxed Adobe software in the future. Subscriptions suck for professional users. The user loses control and flexibility. I upgrade every year but what you hint at as sweetening the subscription deal sounds to me like penalizing the upgrade purchaser.

  5. The City of LA went with Google for cloud services … but the city’s law enforcement didn’t.
    There’s two big issues here.
    1. Governments tend to not like monthly payments.
    2. LE tends to not like cloud based services – especially where storing sensitive information is concerned.
    I know that us LE users are a small niche market, but CS5.5 might be the last suite that LE buys.
    I’m not speaking for anyone other than myself … but I’ve been talking to a few of the LE folks and they’re less than enthusiastic about this new direction in Adobe’s business plan.

    1. The confusion is with the statement on the upgrade policy page that implies that perpetual updates will happen only to the subscription product. In other words, the volume license or stand-alone product’s description doesn’t mention product updates in the same way that the subscription product does.
      The other problem is with the way the updates are handled – push or pull. Given that we validate our tools, we tend to like the pull method – we get the update when we’re ready, validate it, then put it to use if it passes. The push method will be problematic in that we won’t be able to govern the timing, or perhaps even be aware that the update occurred?

  6. This is a good step forward. Unlike others, I do like the concept of a subscription model. My problem is that I’m only a casual user of the Adobe products and so to pay $400/year for Photoshop to fuel something I do to help friends and family on occasion is not beneficial to me.
    People like me who are occasional users are being marginalized in this push to move move to subscriptions. If I used the Adobe products several times a week, I would love to go with subscription models. As it is, I’m being relegated to the “Elements” product line which is cheaper but not even close to the power/control I have withe perpetual products.
    I was happy to being giving Adobe about $250 year for perpetual licenses to the Production Premium. But that’s the max I can give for how infrequently I use it. That’s a far cry from $1000/year require for subscription. I cannot justify that.
    Please give the occasional user some better options going forward.

    1. As several others have said, I am an amateur photographer who doesn´t earn money from phtography, and use Photoshop more or less occasionally. I have been using Photoshop since Version 3 (not CS3), circa 1985, and religiously upgraded every year (CS5 is Version 12). If Adobe changes the current model to a more expensive subscription model, it will relegate thousands of users like me to sticking with CS5 forever, or having us move to Elements. Is that good for Adobe? It certainly isn´t good for thousands of users like me.

  7. I strongly feel that Adobe jumped the gun on these announcements.
    From what I have heard, the Creative Cloud subscription model is $50 a month for access to the entire Creative Suite, or $35 a month if you sign a one year contract. This seems like a great deal to me, and I will gladly pay a little every month and work with the latest versions, rather than only upgrading every three or four years. This seems to me to be a very exciting deal, if these numbers are indeed correct.
    The trouble is, the announcement was completely overshadowed by two things: first, many people seem to have confused Creative Cloud with the existing subscription program, which is vastly more expensive. The lack of concrete details doesn’t help this in the least – I had to search hard to find those prices I listed above, and I have no way to know if they are official or not. Second, the change in upgrade policy – which is unquestionably a negative change if taken out of context – totally overshadowed the Creative Cloud announcement.
    The result is that all most people saw was that the upgrade policy was changing for the worse, forcing people to upgrade more often or go for a subscription – and most people seem to assume that this means the current old subscription model.
    Now the flip-flop in many ways is just making things worse, because there must be quite a lot of people who scrambled to buy CS5.5 at the end of 2011, all of whom will now be feeling pretty betrayed and mad.
    It’s all very regrettable. I hope that you can announce more details of Creative Cloud (official pricing is what we need, other details can wait) as soon as possible, and I truly hope that it is indeed going to be as competitively priced as I have been led to believe. And crucially, I mean internationally as well as in the US.

  8. James is correct to note: “With _real_ software you buy it once and use it until there’s a compelling reason to pay for an upgrade.” That is the problem. Adobe already makes a great product so there is little incentive for anyone to upgrade. Many of us could get by using a CS from many years ago.
    It is difficult to imagine improvements in Photoshop (and I’m writing this as someone that keeps up on the research papers for graphics and knows what has not yet made it into mainstream commercial software). There’s a finite market and a finite feature set that can be reasonably included in Photoshop. We’ve already seen Adobe jumping the shark by adding 3D to Photoshop.
    While it will continue to sell, Adobe is facing (or has already faced) a sales plateau. Tech companies usually diversify to keep going. AT&T evolved from phones to computing. GE evolved from bulbs to jet engines and entertainment. Microsoft evolved from desktop computing to servers and gaming systems. Apple evolved from desktop computing to portable media players and the record business. I’m trying to think of _any_ tech company that successfully avoided evolution by simply charging their customers for the _same_ product in a more aggressive manner.

  9. You wrote: “What sucks is that the very real advantages of subscriptions (most notably, faster access to feature improvements) have gotten drowned out by the perceived disadvantages.”
    What you wrote is insane. The conversion to a subscription model for your products is insane. It shows how disconected Adobe is from its customer base. Please explain how the subscription model benifits the average graphic designer, photographer, small/medium sized studio.
    Adobe is flipping it’s middle finger up at their core group of users in order to please Wallstreet.
    Create a great product and offer that product at a great price. That’s what great companies do. Adobe used to be a great company. Unfortunately, creative proffesionals are at the mercey of Adobe and their poorly run company. It’s a shame.
    Remember, the Conde Nast and other large publishers are not your bread and butter. Or, are they?

    1. I personally feel that there are compelling reasons to upgrade the Creative Suite, just not that there are compelling reasons to upgrade _every_cycle_. The jump from CS3 to CS4 wasn’t big. The jump from CS4 to CS5 isn’t big. The jumps from CS3 to CS5 or CS4 to CS6, however, are very big.
      For me, the plan is to buy Production Premium CS6 to get all the latest and greatest features (particularly content aware healing and 2012 model year camera support), and then start phasing out Adobe products in favor of other vendors over the next 2-3 years.
      The prospect of learning a bunch of new software packages and losing the Creative Suite’s integration is making me pretty effing cranky, as I’m sure everyone can tell from the tone of my posts here.

  10. Hopefully by CS7, Adobe will quietly slow down this “business plan” (thought of by real live business people!). Then we can cruise through CS5, CS6, CS7 like normal.
    If the software selling business is so difficult for these guys, why don’t they go work for someone else? It can’t be fun for them.

  11. Upgrades come too often anyway. Every 2-3 years is plenty adequate at this junction. I personally still use CS2 and it serves my purposes very adequately. My businesses production departments (printing and publishing), however become compelled to upgrade every time there is a “bump” (new release). Further, your new releases often precipitate changes in other software that we use (RIP software for example) which comes at no small expense.
    We all get the feeling that the only reason there are regular upgrades is to fuel Adobe’s insatiable desire for more revenue. (Yes, I see Adobe’s palatial new building going up in Lehi UT every day on my way to work.)
    This just all sounds too much like the money grubbing Netflix fiasco which they are still reeling from.

  12. Let’s not forget that this happened only because of the outrage generated by Adobe’s intended upgrade approach.
    John, it’s not “perceived disadvantages”. If we percieve those as disadvantages, then for us those *are* disadvantages.
    I enjoy your blog a lot John, but the corporation you work for is monopolistic and behaves accordingly. You are certainly aware of that.
    It’s not the case of “we do good if you do good”, because Adobe knows that a lot of people really have no other option.
    I’ll have to see if CS6 is worth the upgrade price (of course part of the monopolistic practices is having outrageous prices in Europe), but long-term it’s becoming pretty clear: switch. Fortunately in my field I am mostly able to do that, so I’ll probably get a stand-alone Afte Effects and give up on all the others (The Foundry Mari is becoming a fabulous & modern replacement for Photoshop for visual effects work and it’s not coming with all the legacy baggage).

  13. So much for believing Adobe…
    Although I currently don’t need an upgrade (I also own CS5 Master Collection), and due to operating system limitations (OS X Leopard) can’t even use it, I recently accepted Adobe’s special offer and upgraded my independent copy of Photoshop CS4 to CS5. I did that solely to qualify for future upgrades to Photoshop CS6 and beyond.
    I accepted Adobe’s offer so I could minimize the financial damage of upgrading to CS6. Now, Adobe is telling me I really didn’t need to spend $172 to do that.
    Question: what will Adobe do to minimize the financial hit on those of us who, in good faith, have upgraded to CS5 merely to preserve our upgrade eligibility? You guys opened this can of worms, and it’s only fair that you get all of the critters back in the can before you close the lid.

    1. In response to the Update at the end of John’s blog post, I called Adobe customer service to find out the latest policy.
      The first representative I talked to had no idea what I was talking about, so I politely ended the conversation. The second tried to be helpful but still didn’t know anything about the policy change or how it might affect me.
      After two calls, I hadn’t learned anything, so I decided that it’s best to wait until Adobe figures out, and lets its representatives know, its ultimate policy on this issue.

  14. •Bottom line: During 2012, you don’t have to buy CS5 just to buy CS6.
    Except for the fact that I bought CS5.5 from Adobe in November 2011 simply because of the new (now canceled) policy. Adobe actively encouraged people to buy CS5.5 so they could get CS6 upgrade pricing. Now I’m stuck with paying TWICE for an upgrade that, it turns out, I could have simply waited for.
    I am an infrequent user, and have CS2, CS3, and now CS5.5 sitting on my shelf, and I’m seriously considering canceling my CS5.5 and quitting Adobe.
    Extremely frustrated,

  15. this is some serious b*llshiete right here! how about a free upgrade to cs6 when it comes out because i bought cs5 based on you telling us cs3 users we HAD to to stay in the upgrade path. no. i didn’t think so. 🙁 maybe this will be my last upgrade.

  16. For those of us who prefer to buy software once and use it permanently rather than paying continuing “subscription” fees, it looks like you haven’t changed anything. You’re apparently still insisting that we buy each and every upgrade. Skip even one version (whether it’s because it doesn’t offer anything to justify shelling out $200, or maybe we’re out of a job and can’t afford it) and it’s back to being a new user who pays the full price.
    For the record, I first started using Photoshop with CS2, after I outgrew Paint Shop Pro. I upgraded to CS3 because I found its improvements compelling. I skipped CS4 because I didn’t consider it worth the upgrade price. But CS5 was sufficiently compelling to make me eagerly buy the upgrade (and I think it’s a great version).
    I recognize that you need to encourage users to upgrade so you can have the revenue to continue developing and improving your products while giving shareholders the return to which they are entitled. The old policy of reasonably restricting the number of upgrades users can skip provided that encouragement. But reducing that number to zero seems nothing more than whipping customers who, for whatever reason, fall even slightly behind the pace you set on the Upgrade Treadmill.
    I suspect your marketeers might have concluded that with a mature, feature-laden product like Photoshop, it’s becoming much easier to compel users to upgrade with the stick of penalties than to provide the carrot of genuinely compelling improvements with each release. Maybe your executives honestly believe the increased revenue from the new policy will more than offset the loss of angry customers who decide not to upgrade. Whatever the reasoning behind the policy, I hope it’s ultimately proved wrong. Pissing off customers is not a successful approach in the long term, even for monopolies.
    By the way, I’m also a user of Finale, which does for music what Photoshop does for imaging. The initial purchase price is similar to that of Photoshop, and a new version comes out annually. I continue to use the 2010 version, since I had no use for the few “tweaky” improvements they made to the two versions since then. Judging from the barrage of e-mail and snail mail I’ve received about the upgrades, it seems that many other users feel as I do. The existence of an equally-featured competitive product (Sibelius) may be what’s keeping them from adopting Adobe’s strategy.

  17. Love your blog John but let’s call B.S as it is.
    First adobe tries to sell us on the 5.5 upgrade at full number version cost (indicating a real substantial upgrade) 5.5 felt like a bunch of patches tacked on with a few minimal updates and not all of creative suite got updated to boot (didn’t do anything to PS that the free small patch at adobes site didn’t do; which was minimal)It added a few little things and tried to slide it by as a real full price upgrade. Compare 5.0 and 5.5 and trust me the changes were barely noticable especially since i use mainly ps and ai
    Yes i had to read what new features were listed just to notice what few new things were added. Not all of cs was updated and adobe charged full price????
    Now adobe thinks it’s users are morons who can’t do math and figure out that this new idea of subscriptions will end up costing more than outright buying it.
    I’m sure John can’t admit openly that adobe is acting like greedy S.O.B’s still I’m sure he’s not so blind as to see why this would put off long-time adobe users. Adobe should concentrate on adding features at a far price and not looking to their stockholders and trying to squeeze end users.
    Used to love adobe and the products they make (still do!) but adobe is abusing its position as having the industry standard graphic design apps.
    First a crappy .5 bug-fix/patchup masking as a real upgrade at full price and now this! A subscription plan that comes off as just a way for adobe to keep money coming straight to them. Maybe if adobe realized customers aren’t morons who can’t do math we would get somewhere

  18. As someone who has always wanted Master Collection but could never afford it, the Creative Cloud pricing of $50 a month looks pretty good – it’s almost exactly the same as what it costs to get a version upgrade every year.
    I see two serious problems. First, many of us are freelancers, and that means we are feast or famine people. Some months $50 is nothing. Other months $50 is tough to come by. And there are really NO months during which we don’t use Photoshop for something. So we would much rather have perpetual versions because we don’t HAVE to upgrade constantly – we can upgrade during flush years and use our old software during years we aren’t doing so great. This is a really important feature, which may not be so apparent in the boardrooms where everyone is well paid every month.
    Second, as of today you are still heavily advertising Master Collection for $2,500. The person who buys MC today thinks he has equity in the product in the form of upgrade pricing. Now, the annual fee for the Creative Cloud is the same as upgrading so he’s bound to feel ripped off; people who pay nothing are basically getting the same price as him. I can see why they would feel cheated.
    Now, for me, I can subscribe to Creative Cloud and hold on to Photoshop CS4 for when I need to drop my subscription and live in a more hardscrabble world. That might be the best thing for many others as well.
    By the way, why are the subscriptions available but only at the old rates? I would like to at least consider subscribing to Creative Cloud and getting the Master Collection right away but there doesn’t seem to be a way to do it yet. I would hate to pay $130 for a subscription that you have already valued at $50. Why not change the initial subscription rates to be in line with your announcements, and then convert people to Creative Cloud when it’s fully ready?

  19. Dear John,
    I see no benefit on your subscription pricing model, none.
    But there is one fear you could alleviate if you choose to, if I sign-up for the subscription and pay for a year, I should get the right(license) to that software after the years up as if I had just bought the license in the first place.
    Your subscription pricing is not cheaper than if I had just bought the license in the first place.
    After this last pricing screw-up, I have no faith that Abobe won’t play subscription pricing games down the road and I would want a way out by getting the license out-right.
    By the way, and I’m not happy about it, but Adobe forced money out of my pocket in Nov 2011, when I had to go from CS4 to CS5.

  20. “What sucks is that the very real advantages of subscriptions (most notably, faster access to feature improvements) have gotten drowned out by the perceived disadvantages.” – No, what sucks is that Adobe is not listening to its customers. Some customers may embrace subscriptions and may even sign up to Adobe draconian pricing and Ts-and-Cs.
    Existing perpetual license customers STILL WANT perpetual licenses and the option to skip up to 3 versions.
    I love your blog and I love your attitude, John. Always have. But convincing us that subscriptions are good for customers is Mission Impossible.

  21. First to those that have mentioned upgrading to CS5/5.5 under the prior offer over the last two months. Call Adobe sales. They know this is an issue and have info for you (at least they did for a person that I know in the same boat).
    Now my comments for John
    It’s nice John that you are indicating that pricing structures might be better than we think (hopefully that is reducing prices of subscriptions and not just increasing prices of non-subscription products).
    I am a little disappointed that Adobe is at least publicly not acknowledging (and almost dismissive) about the huge amount of feedback from their customer base that the new pricing policies were not meeting their customer needs.
    Also, there are a wide variety of customer needs. You know this yet you make it sound like the subscription model is great for everyone. Yes some customers want the latest bug fixes (you don’t need a subscription for that) and others want the latest and greatest new features ASAP (I call that on the bleeding edge). There are other customers that run a business dependent on their software base and need to have control over when they upgrade (and this applies to other software not just Adobe and in many other business fields as well).
    Software is just a tool to meet a business need. A single software application is often part of a workflow in conjunction with other software as part of an overall system. New software is often tried out in advance to make sure it does not break other parts of the system. Specifically with Photoshop to make sure plugins, scripts, actions continue to work. Many plugins actually don’t work at the front end of a new Photoshop version because their development cycle by its nature lags the development of Photoshop. Sometimes the plugin developers prioritize one platform first (PC or Mac) and the other is advertised as “coming.”
    For me, I do not want Adobe in control of my personal or business upgrade cycle and I doubt the subscription model would be enticing enough to put up with the havoc of associated software breaking. Having forced upgrades through the subscription from a business point of view is similar to having “the tail wag the dog.”
    Fortunately, Adobe will continue to support non-subscription options (at least for now). Unfortunately, Adobe has not changed their stated policy of discounts only for one version back. They have only announced special (as in not necessarily to be repeated) discounts for CS3/CS4 to CS6 for a limited time. From a business standpoint for me (and others I know) it would be much more desirable for Adobe to support at least two versions back for continued bug fixes (I believe they are) as well as some tiered discount pricing at least two version back. There are customers that would be fine having their discount price be higher while skipping every other version just so they don’t have to thrash their stable workflow for features that they may not need or can wait to include in their workflow.
    Until I am convinced that Adobe really “gets” listening to their customers again, for myself (and my recommendations to others) I will evaluate all software alternatives for my workflow carefully and build in some resilience to Adobe’s recent non-friendly customer actions.
    I consider Adobe’s “still in place” new pricing strategy a shot over the bow and I suggest no one ignore that action.

    1. I called yesterday to complain and they offered a refund and to cancel my CS5.5 key from November… Leaving me back on CS3. I haven’t decided whether to take that offer or not.

      1. Its nice that Adobe offers a refund but yeah its a tough decision to make when Adobe hasn’t released any information on the price of CS6. I too bought my copy of CS5.5 in November, upgrading from CS3, and without knowing the price for upgrading from CS5.5 to CS6 and the price of upgrading from CS3 to CS6 I can’t make an educated decision as to which might be cheaper. So I’ll probably stay with CS5.5 and hope that upgrading from CS3 to CS5.5 to CS6 will be the cheaper method.

  22. At the very least what would be a face-saving gesture from Adobe is to allow users to skip one version to get upgrade pricing.
    There are many reasons to skip a version and forcing every upgrade on users is definitely greedy.

  23. John,
    The information released last Novmeber clearly said that CS5 would be required to get CS6. As a user of CS4 (and 3, 2, CS, 7, 6, 5.5 etc.) I took this literally and purchased CS5. REading the posts, I’m note alone. The cynical side of me wonders how much Adobe’s earnings were increased with this little dance. At best this reflects very poorly on Adobe’s management. At worst, Adobe took our loyalty as customers and used it to crews us. Ouch.
    The whole concept of subscription based product evolution is another topic. There may be conpelling reasons for Adobe to make that decision, but there has been nothing I can find that presents those reasons. Adobe asks its users to trust the product development decisions made, then 2 months later sucker punches us. Does market dominance lead to arrogance? Often.

  24. Funny thing this subscription plan just might work if they had thought it through better.
    Should set it up so the customer/business has a choice and not be compelled to hand over money with each upgrade (thats extortion)Not everyone has money to jump to the latest version just because Adobe says so.
    Companies and users are also not retards that believe every upgrade is some monumental increase in features just ask all the office users if besides the gui the latest version does powerpoint/word/etc.
    Users and small companies can do math and realize this is costs more when using this pricing plan.
    Hell even news websites covering this subscription plan are saying how narrow sited and costly it is.
    Prediction? Individual users and small companies will reject it. Large companies may bite into it but not many when the realize the cost
    Adobe will have to either drop it or rethink it.

  25. Great plan adobe! first try to soak up the individual users with a lame .5 upgrade which added very little at full version cost. Next try the corporate end and see if they will bite. Adobe is not only pissing off individual customers but now trying to screw small companies and businesses with a costly subscription plan. Adobe must be looking for handouts next after trying to get their hands in its loyal customers pockets. Looks like they can’t get deep enough.

  26. Adobe’s going to push more and more legit users away at this rate. More users are going to be leery about updates and more users will pirate it. Greed only takes you so far before others realize you are abusing their loyalty. Adobe is already on a slippery path.

  27. I find the use of the word “subscription” poor. This isn’t a magazine. It’s software that Abobe wants me to rent from them each month. I don’t want to rent, or rent to won. I want to own the sofware. If Adobe makes it hard for me to do that, then I will go elsewhere.

  28. I agree with a lot of the posters here, great blog, but Adobe’s pricing schemes are lame and have been for a long time.
    The take away message here is that nobody upgrades regularly because it’s too expensive.
    I could see how Adobe as a company would take this attitude personally, I’m sure a lot of engineering resources go into each upgrade.
    However the reality is that most of us don’t usually get a chance to use most of what goes into each upgrade.
    Generally people are stuck in specific jobs where a few new features would be invaluable, but others (in spite of the engineering costs) are useless.
    Another hard reality that people are faced with, is that while some people can make large amounts of money from Adobe’s software-which could justify the prices they charge-other people just can’t.
    Sensitivity would be worthwhile to Adobe.
    So the way I see it, Adobe can continue to have people be frustrated with their priceing, and not make use any of their engineers recent work. Or, cut their prices in at least half, and have a majority of their customers upgrade.
    It seems like having more people using your work would be far more important than making more money off of each customer.
    I wouldn’t be surprised if it was more profitable too.

    1. Well said, couldn’t agree more.
      “Don’t ignore those of us who have been on this train since the beginning.”
      Since I won’t be retiring soon I still keep a machine w/ Win XP and PS CS3 ready to go, ‘just in case’ since it still does 95% of what I need to do. Heck I have PS 5.5 on a junp drive 🙂

  29. It’s really fascinating to see the feedback that this post has generated – and all very predictable. Creatives in the trenches have seen work drop off dramatically since the 2008 downturn, and given the offshoring of graphics production (even at the highest levels, places like Lucas Entertainment), it’s no surprise. Meanwhile, the price of applications software – especially the suites – continues to be prohibitively expensive for a large number of individual users, and hobbyists. At this point, a significant percentage of digital photography folks have either switched over to Lightroom, Aperture, or even Elements (especially those not concerned with advanced channel manipulation of four color print applications), putting even more pressure on the Photoshop team. This isn’t surprising, and would seemingly explain what many of us perceive to be misguided efforts to shore up revenues.
    The problem is that, like many have indicated here, the idea of renting applications – especially complex ones, with significant learning curves – is just not practical for a large number of users (perhaps even a vast majority), who want to know that their investment in learning the tools, is not subject to being switched off when you don’t pay a monthly bill. We’re happy renting content, but tools, not so much. Add to this the complication of the mobile/tablet app market, and the way this is influencing mainstream perception of the price:performance equation, and it’s going to be a lot harder to keep convincing folks that a $700 image editor is that much better than the $10 iPad app (and Photoshop Touch looks outrageously cool, FWIW). The massive shift initiated by Apple in the application world is well worth studying – how many After Effects sales have been lost on the Mac to a $50 unbundled Motion? Keynote is now $20, how much is PowerPoint? I’m not questioning the objective value of individual applications that make up any of the Adobe Suites, but it’s just becoming increasingly difficult for folks to shell out $700 for an image editor, it’s a different world than 20 years ago, software is now more of a commodity, and there are indeed other players nipping at Adobe’s heels.
    It seems to me that Adobe really needs to radically rethink it’s approach to the role it plays in the professional/prosumer/consumer spaces, and perhaps leverage it’s mighty engineering resources to figure out better ways to modularize Photoshop and create more compelling bundles of technology, prioritize the efforts being applied to the 3D strategy (hint: still image folks don’t care, while motion people care ever so much), become more aware of the trends we’re seeing in the consumerization of digital creative technologies and beef up it’s lackluster efforts in that critical space (compare the Apple web page for iPhoto and Adobe’s page for Photoshop Elements to Grok this point), and work very hard to not make the same mistakes that Quark made towards the end of it’s relevant years. Someone may indeed come up with the equivalent of what you did to those folks with InDesign, Photoshop needs some real TLC at this point. Don’t ignore those of us who have been on this train since the beginning.

    1. >>prioritize the efforts being applied to the 3D strategy (hint: still image folks don’t care, while motion people care ever so much)<<
      Still image folks (eg Photographers and others) do care about 3D, just not in the way you are thinking about it. 3D is not only about spinning boxes or elegant models renderings, it also includes the notion of "Re-Lighting" a photo. Think ion more broad terms of what that technology can bring to your image, art or business.

    2. “The massive shift initiated by Apple in the application world is well worth studying – how many After Effects sales have been lost on the Mac to a $50 unbundled Motion? Keynote is now $20, how much is PowerPoint?”
      Apple are a hardware company, not a software firm. They could give all their software away and still be the most profitable computer company in the world.
      Mind you I still wouldn’t use any of their simplistic, buggy and badly designed software even if it was free. Typed on my Mac Pro, before anyone accuses me of being a MS user who knows nothing about Apple.

  30. So I bought the 5.5 upgrade ONLY to have a upgrade CS6 when it comes out. Now adobe says just kidding; got-ya and your $$. Feeling more than a bit used.

  31. Upgraded every other version, always have. Cloud? Forget it. Seriously peed off with Adobe, they just went from being the good guys to being the bad guys.

    1. Creative Cloud/subscriptions is just an option. If you like your individual product or Creative Suite as it is today (perpetual license) you will still be able to purchase Photoshop CS6/Creative Suite 6 as you have in the past.

  32. “What sucks is that the very real advantages of subscriptions (most notably, faster access to feature improvements) have gotten drowned out by the perceived disadvantages. The whole story is clumsy because Adobe hasn’t announced a CS6 version, or any real details about pricing, etc. Now’s not the time for that (sorry–I wish we could share more right now), so I can only ask for your patience. ”
    John what sucks is that Adobe has badly mishandled the situation. NOW IS the time for Adobe to provide customers with information even if it doesn’t fit your preconceived schedule.
    Personally I am excited by the possibilities of Creative Cloud but Adobe’s announcement of it and the heavy-handed change to the upgrade policy has created a serious problem for Adobe.
    The problem exists because Adobe hasn’t be focused on its customers. The way to fix the problem is to provide real information not to ask for patience.
    For those complaining about being mislead into upgrading to CS5.5, I’ve been told to recommend you “contact Adobe Customer Support on 800-833-6687, or on Twitter @Adobe_Care”. You might try Twitter first since I’ve heard that wait time on the Customer Support line have been longer than average recently.

  33. Wow, what an onslaught of venom and so justified. Yes John I enjoy your blog a lot as well, but you do work for a greedy conglomerate now, a far cry from what Adobe used to be.
    I am very impressed with this revolt of the masses letting Adobe know it has grown to big for its own shoes.
    It always happens with every conglomarate. They have become so fat from their own successes they begin to resemble obese beasts that need to be fed huge amounts continiously to stay afloat.
    Yes Adobe is/was a great company. You have fantastic products, but you are so big that you begin to be almost uncontrollable.
    One of the most difficult things for an obese beast to do is to go hungry for a while and slim down, shedding all this excess weight will do you good, but most of the time this excess weight needs to be trimmed from the corporate section of the company first (to many chiefs) so that hardly ever happens.
    look at Microsoft, that company is defenitely on the decline. It used to have 95000 employees at one stage to support a dismal few products that often were so badly thought out that all those extra people were needed to prop them up and sort it out and they still were making massive profits.
    I wish Adobe well. You have great products and there is a lot of innovation going on still, (i.e. CS5 was a great upgrade and a lot of mobile apps are coming out) but you are beginning to get top heavy.
    Your products have always been rather expensive, which is why there is such a huge black market for them and that will only get bigger all the time.
    Previous post say that your subscribtion program is a distortion and they are right. It makes us users totally dependant on you, having to dish up every time you need money to feed the beast. It will make Adobe so arrogant over the long run that your upgrades will suffer as they become second to your need to feed the beast.
    Its time to make Adobe lean and hungry again.
    Over time the same thing will happen to Apple as well. They are still on a momentum Steve created, but in time that company will become top heavy as well with less innovation as the result.
    Good luck John, I realy wish Adobe the very best. You have fantastic people working there.

  34. Part 1: The good news: I spoke to Adobe sales today and was told that if you did upgrade to PS CS5 because you thought you had to in order to be able to upgrade to 6 you will have to contact support for a special discount to accommodate the difference. Thats about as good as the good news gets.
    Part 2: More bad news: John Wheelers comments above have alerted me/us to the very real possibility that “essential” (to work flow) plug-ins may not work when an upgrade to the main program occurs. And Murphy’s Law states the failures will def occur, and at the least opportune moment, so there is no maybe about it.
    I now have YET ANOTHER reason to not even consider a subscription service. There is no way I am going to risk not being able to deliver what I have promised my clients to a process that I have absolutely no control over.
    Then of course there is the new upgrade policy, I am not at all happy with that one either. Perhaps a tiered 3 year upgrade policy would be acceptable to me (I did say perhaps) but this? No way! No how!
    What a mess Adobe has made of things, I hope they get their act together but in the mean time I will be actively looking for products that will serve as Adobe replacements. There is no way I will allow myself to be caught flat footed.

  35. Photoshop has a wide user base. I can understand how a subscription model might make sense for professional Creative Suite users who need cutting edge functionality and features. But many users of Photoshop, like me, are amateur photographers who derive no income from their hobby and only use the software occasionally. Since PS4 I have bought an upgrade every other version and am now on PS CS5. I don’t support or condone software piracy but not everyone in this market has a legal copy of Photoshop and this change in policy will do nothing to encourage people to act legally. Personally I will look at how much processing I can do in programs like Aperture and either push out purchasing a new copy of PS until about CS8 or just make do with a bunch of other programs. Buying every version is not going to be an option for me.

  36. Although I’m not one to complain quickly, I do complain when I think that people/companies are being unfair to me. And this is such a moment.
    I think it’s great that Adobe seems to have listened to the complaints about the new upgrade policy.
    But what about the people who, like me, thought “OK, if I do want to be able to upgrade to CS6 and want to save as much as I can, I have to upgrade my CS3 before the end of 2011 (because we get an extra discount)” and that now find out that they didn’t have to do this to still be able to upgrade to CS6.
    I think Scott Kelby was right when he said:
    “While I understand that Adobe needs to make business decisions based on how it sees market conditions, I feel the timing of this new pricing structure is patently unfair to your customers (and our members). Here’s why: You didn’t tell us up front. You didn’t tell us until nearly the end of the product’s life cycle”.
    I think Adobe should show their customers they care about them, by compensating those that upgraded after the “threat” that you have to be on CS5. Just like the grace-period when you buy a version when the new version already has been announced.
    While my financial position wasn’t that good, I was saving money to upgrade to CS6, because I love Photoshop and hate to pirate it. So I wanted a new version, but as late as possible. Now I’m paying twice (if I do upgrade to CS6 – after a lot of saving again…)
    Like many other I love this blog and I love using Adobe-products.
    What’s happening now doesn’t feel like the Adobe we all know.

    1. I guess you did not read my comment directly above your post. Adobe has said they will address this issue and arrange a special price based on the fact you have upgraded to CS5 because you thought you had to.

  37. Everyone is a capitalist when selling and a socialist when buying.
    You know, folks, you can register your concerns or disappointment or preferences without the vitriol.
    How many other companies allowed upgrades from 3 versions back? Most software is only upgradable from the previous version – it’s nothing new. Now you’ve got some warning and Adobe have indicated that those who upgraded as a result of the previous, poor, communication have been offered a remedy (refund so they can take advantage of the new offer).
    Just because Adobe has been extremely generous in the past doesn’t mean they have no right to move toward more common upgrade schemes if they so choose.
    Meh. If it’s a fair price pay it – if it’s not, don’t. There’s just no need for the anger.

    1. I have to say that was my thoughts exactly, except you could actually upgrade from 4 versions back as John pointed out when CS5 was announced. You could upgrade to CS4 from CS1 after CS5 was announced and you then got a free upgrade to CS6. Which is incredibly generous.
      Does any other software company give you such a flexible upgrade option?
      So all Adobe are doing is moving to the upgrade model used by virtually everyone else.
      However, how they’ve marketed this move is disastrous. For CS6 it should have been two versions [in reality 3], for CS7 it should then be 1 version [in reality 2] and then nobody would have been so upset and you can still skip a version.
      I have to say I wondered for many years now as to how long it would be before companies moved to subscription models as it was blindingly obvious that the big improvements that each upgrade could offer would cease as the market matured.

    2. So, what you’re saying is capitalism tends to yield lousy customer service, while socialism leads to great customer service.
      I don’t think so.
      Adobe really gave themselves a black eye with this mess, but they seem to be trying to clean it up. I would consider the subscription model if it’s priced properly. If it costs more than boxed software, forget it.
      On the other hand, if Adobe trys to Netflix boxed set owners (i.e. they want to get out of DVD shipping, so they tried to make it more painful to continue to rent disks) I’ll probably be rather mad.
      There’s no reason not to accommodate both types of users with similar value. Maybe then people will see the value of subscribing and switch. But I won’t until I know there’s a pain-free way of going back if I decide subscriptions don’t work for me.
      Finally, John, have a great time on your sabbatical. I’ve done the thing with going off to another country to do some good. And it did me more good than I could ever have imagined.
      Just make sure you come back. Adobe would not be the same without you.

  38. Adobe puts out great products but the updates are too frequent and expensive. Now that they’ve transitioned for the digital design market, they can at least slow down the 18 month upgrade cycle. My first thought for the last 6 months or so, whenever I read about the subscription model, is that Adobe is in full Quark mode: tone deaf to a fault. Maybe Tim Gill is a big shareholder.

  39. Brown what’s fair about their practices?
    Putting out a .5 release at full price that was in essence a bunch of minor additions and bugfixes that didn’t cover all of CS and charging full version upgrade price? Trying to b.s us and hype about how it was a revolutionary upgrade, when in fact the additions were minor at best now a new version?
    A blantly overpriced subscription model to suck up money from companies and end users. A way to lock users into having to upgrade
    Nobody’s saying adobe shouldn’t make money off their products but these desperation tactics will only piss off the loyalists who have been with adobe for a long time. Me? since my teens when my father brought home ps from work to play with. Adobe needs to chill and stop being so arrogant and listen to its users; who are very passionate about their products and feel their loyalty should at the very least be respected. Something adobe has clearly lost track of

  40. One question : Will the individual programs like Indesign or Illustrator CS3 be able to be upgraded to CS6 until 31 December 2012? I have these two programs and Photoshop CS5. All bought separately over the years. From what I’m reading it’s only the creative suites that are eligible for the upgrades. Please tell me I’m wrong. Show me. None of my software is part of the creative suites. I’ve gone to the Adobe site to read their policies. I think I’ll need to hire a lawyer to make heads or tails of their language.

      1. Jeffery,
        I recently purchased ( from Amazon )the upgrade to Photoshop CS5.5 from my version of Photoshop CS3.
        I am still able to return it and get a refund.
        The only reason I did purchase it was because of Adobe’s change in upgrade policy. I understand that that policy has been modified to allow folks to upgrade to CS6 from CS3,I am speaking about Photoshop only not the Creative Suite.
        In light of this, I am wondering if I should return CS5.5 and wait for CS6. I am quite happy with CS3 and would have waited for CS6 were it not for the upgrade policy change.
        Candidly speaking, cost is an issue, might you be able to offer any information that would help.
        Will the cost of CS3 > CS6 be significantly more than the cost of CS3 > CS5.5 > CS 6 ?
        Thank you for any help you may be able to offer.
        Photoshop CS3
        Lightroom 3

          1. Jeffrey,
            Thank you for your prompt reply.
            Sorry that I did not mention this before but I have not opened the package. It is still shrink-wrapped, and I still have 3 or 4 days left in the allotted return period, so assuming I can return it to Amazon what would you suggest?
            I had plan to upgrade to CS6 when it is released regardless, but obviously in this economy I need to do so as inexpensively as possible.
            I am leaning towards returning CS5.5 and waiting for the upgrade to CS6.
            However it would be very helpful to know if the upgrade price going from CS3 to CS6 is going to be in line with current upgrade costs or if there is going to be a premium charged for upgrading from an older version such as CS3.
            Basically I am asking if the upgrade price from CS3 to CS6 will be the same or close to the current upgrade price of $199 before the 20% discount currently being offered.
            Thank you again for your help.
            Fred Salamon

          2. Fred, yeah, if it’s sealed go ahead and return it and wait for CS6 and upgrade directly from CS3 to CS6. I can’t say officially but I think you’ll be OK on price and come out better that way.

          3. Jeffery,
            Thank you very much for your help.
            I appreciate your taking the time to respond to my questions.
            Fred Salamon

      2. Hi Jeffrey…thanks for this info…
        I wish it said this someplace in the Adobe info on upgrades in a clear and precise manner. Does Adobe state this someplace clearly?
        There is some problem with communications lately. And now John saying how we’re all going to love subscriptions but he can’t say anything about them. Honest, this starts to sound like cheap salesman tactics. It just doesn’t feel right to me.
        I hope Adobe gets its act together. They have such great software. Treating customers right and communicating with them in a clear and honest manner is paramount.

        1. Hi Moe,
          I don’t disagree with you. John, and I, are really handcuffed to talk about more specifics until there’s an official announcement. To be honest, John and I aren’t writing the Creative Cloud story – just relaying the information we have.
          John’s points about subscriptions is true, a subscription model would give us more flexibility to add new features more rapidly in order to respond to market needs and emerging technologies. You wouldn’t have to wait for another product cycle before seeing new features to appear for the products. (There are accounting rules with perpetual licenses that don’t allow this)
          You’ll also note that pricing ($49.99 per month for Creative Cloud – which includes Master Collection, along with services, like TypeKit, Digital Publishing Suite, etc, and Adobe Touch mobile applications, apps like Photoshop Touch, Adobe Ideas, Adobe Proto, etc – is significantly lower than current subscription rates for CS5 (the current subscription price for Photoshop CS5 Extended alone is $49.99). While we don’t have exact pricing details yet, you can imagine that subscription prices will be lower across the board. Yes, we know subscriptions aren’t for everyone, even with lower subscription prices, so those users can still purchase the products they own with the same perpetual license as before.
          I won’t blow smoke up your ass and tell you that subscriptions wouldn’t benefit our business. Namely, it would allow us to be more competitive with our offerings (responsive to market changes/customer needs – which is also important to our customers) and creates a flatter, more predictable revenue stream (something our customers probably don’t care much about).

  41. It’s often difficult for top executives to admit they made any mistake. Arrogance and delusions of infallibility often accompany the confidence that propels CEOs to their exalted positions. With that mindset, admitting and correcting even obvious errors is a sign of weakness to be avoided at all costs.
    Adobe’s executive team must be in quite a quandary over all this. They made a business decision about a subscription (i.e., rental) business model and pricing that they surely believed was right. There surely was business case for it that is rational, and even elegant, to anyone who holds an MBA. Yet many (most?) customers are unhappy with it, even to the point of making inappropriately and unjustifiably angry blog comments about it.
    The problem is obviously with the customers, who are clearly less intelligent and educated than they expected and aren’t appreciating the advantages of the new approach. But that’s not something they can say in public, even if it’s what they believe. They’d like to ignore it and hope it goes away, but they know they can’t do that. So they seem to be taking the approach of making slight tweaks in the hope of mollifying the customers. That probably won’t work.
    If they can’t bring themselves to reconsider their decision, they might at least look back a few years to their acquisition of Pixmantec (RawShooter). When Adobe acquired Pixmantec, they “vaporized” RawShooter and told users of the paid “premium” version to throw away their investment and buy Lightroom when it comes out. Those users were just as pissed off (and just as vociferous) as what we’re seeing now. But Adobe’s executives chose to ignore them.
    But after a few months they recognized they had a public relations problem. So they devised a face-saving way to satisfy those spurned users without admitting to a blunder. They announced that RawShooter Premium users would receive a free copy of Lightroom when it came out. The resentment instantly turned to gratitude, and Adobe acquired an eager group of volunteer gamma testers (who are presumably dutifully buying each version). Adobe had successfully transformed a public relations fiasco into a triumph.
    I think it’s time for Adobe’s executives to come up with a similar face-saving approach that will let them retrench and rethink a business model their customers clearly aren’t accepting, while avoiding any suggestion that infallible executives made a mistake.

  42. Possible Solution but highly unlikely
    Adobe stop releasing versions within months of each other and space them out. Customers and business sometimes need time to absorb the cost of upgrades. Every year or so is fine.Microsoft understands that and spaces out their os and office releases.
    Go back to releasing full upgrades and stop trying to squeeze out more money with .5 releases that add almost nothing. We are not cash cows that are stupid and don’t see the sparse new features added as worthy of a full cost of upgrade. Sadly Adobe I predict will ignore this and continue the trend of releasing their suite closer together schedule-wise. Let’s hope they at least try to add some notable new stuff not like the .5 release did. It looks greedy and alienates customers who have to pay full upgrade price for what amounted to not much new. Skeptical adobe will heed this advice. Your apps are not only used by big companies but individuals and small companies and absorbing cost on upgrades takes time. Space out the releases and make them worth the new features. Charging full cost for a half-assed collection of minor new features some bug fixes and not covering all of CS suite???? Customers aren’t stupid and blind
    Seriously rethink the subscription system and lower the cost to a realistic level. Make the cost comparable to having bought each upgrade spaced over time.
    Highly doubtful adobe will heed these words but still advice that I think they should hear.
    yes 8bf is a real person

  43. I haven’t read all of the comments but I plan too, but I wanted to share my thoughts first so I’m sure I will make additional comments.
    I have bought all the even number CS suites, CS2, CS4 and now I will purchase CS6. I like the idea of the subscription which includes upgrades and so when CS6 is available I will investigate my options for upgrading from CS4 to CS6.
    While I”m excited about the prospect of annual upgrades I do feel that it may be an effort on Adobe’s part to money grab as opposed to releasing patches regularly and introducing truly new features every two (or even three) years. Additionally, as a CS4 user I was frustrated with some of the free updates / plugins being release that were for the CS5 products only. So with all that in mind I think the subscription model will make more sense for me rather than spending an as of yet unknown amount on upgrades every year.
    I do hope, however, that Adobe focuses on stability, bug fixes and general usability enhancements as much as they focus on feature additions.

  44. This is PRECISELY why people are dishonest when it comes to purchasing software, by being dishonest about being a ‘real’ student… Registering for school simply to get student pricing, then splitting that student pricing with another photographer having 1 copy on one computer 1 copy on another computer. And bam. 300$ for each person for a full suite. Then to go and drop school within the drop date so that you don’t get an ‘F’ and get your registration fees back? I could see that becoming rampant, as the cost of upgrades is going to ‘push’ people into a corner just to have what is deemed the ‘latest and greatest’… I can see purchasers becoming more and more dishonest. Maybe I am just cynical and think a lot of people lie and are dishonest when it comes to purchasing software – but, if I were a photographer I could see this being a logical route to go especially if work has become feast and or famine. Not to mention, I would raise prices for the customers and further ostracize them from obtaining services all together. NO it’ ISN’T right, but the little morons that assist my photographer auntie may have something there..Adobe needs to think about keeping their customers HONEST.. PERIOD.

  45. For the people who say that they are lowly amateurs who cannot afford to pay for such expensive software, there are less expensive versions of Premiere or Photoshop which have nearly all the capability for a fraction of the price. They only tend to miss features that are used by professional users and sometimes have clever items in advance of the bigger brother.
    Plus there is Lightroom for the photographers out there, which will do 100% of what the vast majority of most photographers need. Most of Photoshop’s user base [90% IIRC] is not photographers, but graphic designers, illustrators, 3D artists, compositors etc
    And this is the big thing – you don’t have to upgrade, if your version of Photoshop/Illustrator/etc works for you and it new version comes out, it’ll still work for you.
    However if you buy a new camera and the manufacturer ignores Adobe’s open DNG format that they could easily use. Don’t blame Adobe for your 4 year old software not supporting your 4 day old camera. Blame Canon, Nikon etc who caused the problem and if you choose not to use Adobe’s free DNG convertor to allow backwards compatibility for new cameras, you can always use the camera maker’s software. :-0

    1. No, photoshop elements and premiere elements are not suitable substitutes for one that depends on photoshop or premiere pro for ones income.
      They are fine products, but not for one whose used to the full versions of the software.

  46. i used to love adobe, now i just post a gripe on every few days about how much i hate using an adobe product. so sad really. i would like to love the products again, but so many bad decisions since the current ceo took charge. ugh. the overwhelming feeling is that adobe does *not* have its users’ back. period.

    1. I’m sorry you’re feeling that way, but I do understand your sentiment more than you may know. Despite changes at Adobe over the years, I do feel like the Photoshop and Lightroom teams are as engaged with customers as much as ever – through the likes of our Facebook and twitter pages:!/photoshop!/lightroom
      And things like our public beta of Lightroom 4:
      We really do appreciate our users feedback.
      I would encourage you to post your ideas and problems on our feedback site on The team does monitor sites like, but it lacks an ability for us to interact directly with customers the way we can on the feedback site. Take a look at some of the DearAdobe topics we have answered/implemented or are assessing here:
      If you want to post feature ideas, report bugs or ask questions about Photoshop Family products feel free to do so here:
      – Jeff
      Product Manager, Chief Customer Advocate – Adobe Digital Imaging

  47. I’m one of the ones that upgraded Photoshop CS3 to CS5 in November in order to preserve my upgrade rights. I contacted Adobe Customer Support on the Web and the bottom line of an extended “chat” was this response: “Asim: If you like to return this product you can return it, but there is no such discount or credit for future upgrade.”

    1. Hi Phil, yes, I do find the language that Adobe is using lately to be confusing. Besides whatever greed one may feel about the subscriptions and cloud offerings, I don’t find clear, precise info about what is upgradeable. I asked here about the individual upgrade path to photoshop, indesign, and illustrator. I’ve bought these over the years as I’ve needed them. I never bought, wanted, or needed a ‘creative suite’ package. And I know I won’t need one in the future. Fortunate, Jeffrey Tranberry responded to me saying my individual programs going back to CS3 were eligible for the standard upgrade to CS6 until 31 December 2012.

    2. One further note : after we’re all on CS6 as Adobe wants us to be, if I read this right, we will then all be forced to upgrade to CS7 before CS8 comes out or lose the possibility of getting an upgrade. If we miss an upgrade we’ll then have to buy the full program, again. Adobe doesn’t say if we’ll be able to just buy a license again for CS7 or CS8. I mean individual programs. I wonder if we’ll be able to buy one program like Indesign, and just Indesign when it’s at version CS7 and later. They make it sound like all our options going forward will only be creative suites, subscriptions, etc…of course, I may be wrong about this.

      1. I can’t speak for Adobe (I’m sure Jeff or John or someone else will chime in), but the way I read it – at the moment – individual programs are available in the same manner – they’re just reducing the amount of versions you can go back and introducing some cloud/subscription models as well.

        1. Phil, thats correct.
          Individual programs, as well as the Suites, are available in the same manner/perpetual license as they are today.
          What’s being labeled as “Creative Cloud” is a collection of stuff creatives can subscribe to and use together: Creative Suites (applications like Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, etc), along with services (like TypeKit, Digital Publishing Suite, etc) and mobile applications (Adobe Touch apps like Photoshop Touch, Adobe Ideas, Adobe Proto, etc).
          I agree, the communication hasn’t been great – starting with not having comments enabled on the initial announcement/post to be able to field questions and concerns real-time – and not having a complete story/FAQ in place.
          A couple of FAQs have since been produced that may be of value:

          1. When I phoned Adobe customer support on 30-01-2012 (who should know about this right??) they told me not to refund my CS5 *forced* purchase because I would still need it to upgrade to Ps CS6. I pressed them to double check. They did.
            If Adobe wanted to spread confusion they could teach a masterclass in it – another new source of revenue for Adobe? – perhaps it could be subscription based?

    3. Yes, maybe, it’s not entirely clear thus far.
      What if the second phase of the “plan” is to phase out perpetual licenses, then what?

      1. If that’s the plan, do you expect to hear about it far enough in advance to let you avoid the axe? What would the point be?

  48. still doesn’t negate the fact that the subscription idea wasn’t thought through properly. Even if overlooking the forced updates. It will cost more than buying in the long run. Customers can do math and not everyone who uses their products are companies that have large budgets.
    Won’t even get on the .5 thingie as it really gets me mad that they tried to pass off such a stupid update at full price didn’t cover the entire suite and right after jumping into 6.
    Add these all up and adobe is really trying to scrape for cash by hustling its users (and yes just like microsoft adobe i’m sure isn’t above using its position to it’s advantage a fact th
    at I’m sure they realize)
    Yes the subscription model isn’t required nor is updating to the latest version. Adobe stop trying to take your customers as sheep who you can kick and they will come back (ala Apple) Loyalty only goes so far.

  49. I use CS3 with OS X Snow Leopard and thankfully refused the forced upgrade to 5.5.
    CS3 runs fine on Snow Leopard and does all I need. From what I read it would also run fine on Lion. But I’m aware that it may no longer run on a future OS X version. Therefore I will upgrade to a boxed version of CS6 which I can use as long as my hardware and operation system supports it.
    Regarding new cameras which RAW format is only supported in the newest version I stopped using Adobe Camera Raw in favor of the far superior Raw Photo Processor some time ago.
    There’s no way I will ever subscribe to a Creative Suite because the moment I cancel my subscription I will loose access to my original native files. That’s what worries me the most when thinking of a subscription model.

  50. I’m reserving judgement until CS6 is actually released and pricing for both upgrades and subscriptions are announced.
    As John says, they (Adobe) thinks that the subscription model will be appealing. I am a bit relieved to read comments from Jeffery Tranberry above stating that the planned pricing of Creative Cloud at $49.99/mo is significantly cheaper than the current subscription pricing for the CS5.5 Master Collection. While I’m not sure a subscription model is right for me, I’m glad to see they are reconsidering the pricing since the CS5 subscription prices are way way too high IMO.
    So, I’ll wait and see what the new terms would be. I would really like it if Adobe dropped their archaic licensing, where licenses are PC or Mac only. We have a Mac and a PC in our household, so I have a PS license for my Mac and CS license for my PC. This would be very expensive for me to maintain current versions for both licenses. I wish they’d do the same as they do for Lightroom (license works on PC or Mac, no distinction at the software key level).

  51. I don’t think Adobe management quite understands the very good reasons for resistance to the subscription (i.e., rental) model they’re promoting. When you buy (or more accurately, license) a DVD and install it, you can use it essentially forever. Even if you choose not to upgrade, the “legacy” software will continue to work just as it always did, at least until you get a new computer that won’t run legacy software.
    (And remember, Adobe even generously provides a way for non-upgraders to use their legacy software with raw files of new cameras. Just download the DNG converter, convert your files to DNG, and you’re good to go. Of course, that’s really more about serving Adobe’s agenda to increase adoption of DNG than any magnanimity toward customers, but it’s still an option.)
    With rental software you’re subject to the whims of Adobe’s management. They can change the price and/or the terms and conditions of the rental at any time. If you don’t like that, your options are limited. You can do without the software, and hope there’s some competitor offering software that can read all your Adobe files under better terms. Or you can pay the full inflated new-user price for the current boxed version (assuming Adobe continues to offer that). So it’s easy to perceive the rental model as reducing users accustomed to de facto ownership of installed software into serfs, tenants, or any number of similarly unappealing metaphors.
    I don’t think that Adobe’s executives, who see only the benefit to themselves and their company, recognize why so many customers don’t find rental appealing. Or why they resent being pressured into buying each upgrade regardless of whether it offers anything useful. They just see it as a greedy company abusing the loyalty of customers. In other words, they have a public relations problem whose seriousness they may not (or refuse to) recognize.

  52. Worth a note for my fellow small fryconsidering switching to LR – Adobe’s moving in the same direction on the LR upgrades, raising OS and hardware requirements to maintain usability. Before you plan based on LR as a viable option, make sure it’s going to BE one.

  53. I’ve gotten the distinct impression that you think your customers are a bunch of dolts, in fact, incompetent dolts at that.
    There is no way that your subscription is worth about twice what the upgrades have been costing us to date. For that wallet grab you’re going to “give me” online storage I don’t want or need, which by the way would be completely inadequate considering the number of photos I work with, and the speed most people can upload at, compared to download speed, access to thousands of fonts I likely already have paid for or will never use, a digital publishing suite most will never use, more useless social connections, and training which will probably continue to be inferior to that which is offered elsewhere.
    Moreover, in the past, many so called upgrades really weren’t worth the cost, which is why you have so many customers who haven’t purchased each iteration of your products. For those who subscribe, there is little to suggest that will change, so why cough up the cash on a wing and a prayer.
    I rather keep the cash in my pocket than waste it in yours.
    Come out with something really new and highly productive, and I’ll buy it from you if it’s at a reasonable price, and so will others, but give us smoke and mirrors, minor improvements, and no real productivity improvement and I won’t, and neither will anyone else who isn’t an Adobe fanboy or fangirl.

  54. Agreed. Adobe must take us for retards with their tactics as of lately. A retarded bunch of updates/bug fixes masquerading as a full upgrade at full price now this. Adobe get your act together. Maybe they didn’t grab as many users at 5.5 upgrading as they would have liked. Now they figure they can grab the money with a greedy subscription offer. No thanks adobe your looking more money grubbing by the moment

  55. Adobe thinks that just like a phone bill if they squeeze it all together they can slide it by without notice. Minor Patches should be free and major updates should cost what they usually do. Not try to Houdani us with B.S marketing babble about getting upgrades to us faster blah blah. Yeah and you neglect to mention how it costs more and updates will be forced. Adobe wants a pipeline into our wallets and trying to flim flam us with talk about getting updates faster,etc etc Yeah thats nice and all but wheres the mention of how it costs more and restricts the user????

  56. John, I am relieved that you have picked up this ball to some extent. I don’t have to tell you what dangerous waters this is on. The domino effect here could be more than Adobe is capable of understanding. If this was in a different time in our economy it would be different, but it’s not. You do not see or hear what I do here in the midwest.John, try to make your voice louder.We have hundreds of photographers and designers that have already gone to a cheaper software, still holding on to CS3, and given up on Adobe. Hundreds of people John. They don’t need me to teach them, they have given up on Photoshop.

  57. Adobe needs to stop holding onto the belief that they are fool-proof and that people will keep buying their updates just because they say so. The economy sucks and trying to squeeze end users is not the way to go. No matter how much window dressing you put up ie: faster updates to users! uh..sure what was wrong with the minor updates from adobes site and buying large updates when needed? oh that’s right adobe would rather lock the user into forced updates which cost more than not subscribing? Adobe you need to back off with the greed as it’s not as sneaky as you think, in fact it’s pretty transparent. What idiot marketing execs are trying to slide this crap in the backdoor so to speak?

  58. You might think me stupid, but I have to ask this question. Does your latest new upgrade policy apply to those who have the basic PHOTOSHOP CS3, or 4, bearing in mind that I always assumed CS meant Creative Suite? Please clarify. Thanks.
    [Yep–this all applies to both individual apps & Suites. –HTH, J. –J.]

  59. Adobe is a monopoly that needs to be put back in its place. Ever since Creative Suites started the policy of no backward compatibility has forced everyone to continuously upgrade. Most small agencies and freelance designers can’t afford that.
    Then to make matters worse- CS5 would only run on Intel based Macs. Now they have to buy a new computer as well as upgrade. Now a subscription service which keeps us beholden to Adobe MONTHLY? Just so that we can have dubious and useless tweeks? Remember, Adobe bought up their only competitor; Macromedia, just so they could kill an arguably better application (Freehand) thus solidifying their monopoly.
    DESIGNERS REVOLT! If we all decide to stay at CS4 or 5 and not upgrade, we can still be in business if we all have the same system. Send a message to Adobe- WE WILL NOT UPGRADE ENDLESSLY JUST BECAUSE YOU SAY SO!

  60. I’m still mightily confused. I have CS4 and don’t desperately need to keep at the bleeding edge… I just want to upgrade as infrequently as possible (every three or four versions or whatever it has been till now) to maintain my access to the upgrade pricing.
    [That’s not going to be possible in the future. –J.]
    So what are my options from here? Do I need to upgrade to CS6 before the end of 2012, or else I will then have to pay full price for any future upgrade?
    [Right. –J.]
    And after that? Will I need to upgrade at each and every new version to benefit from the upgrade pricing… I won’t be able to wait three or four cycles as now?
    [It’s won’t necessarily be every version, but you won’t be able to wait 5-7 years and get the same discount as someone who upgrades every 12-18 months. –J.]
    And is this subscription thing an *alternative* option to plain old license purchase, or will it be the only choice after 2012?
    [It’s an alternative. –J.]

  61. Thanks for the inline answers above, John; they make my options much clearer… I know I have to purchase an upgrade before the end of the year to get the upgrade discount.
    The implication from one of your answers is that it is fair that you shouldn’t get the same discount after 7 years as someone who upgrades after 12 months. However, isn’t it pretty standard practice for software vendors to offer an upgrade price regardless of how long you wait between upgrades, so Adobe were already being less generous by applying a limit of 3 or 4 versions between upgrades?

  62. I currently have CS4 and was going to upgrade to CS6 later this year. I just found out that I can’t do that as of December 31, 2012. I don’t want to incur a monthly subscription fee for your cloud service and I don’t want to purchase a new license. Adobe needs to revisit this upgrade policy — AGAIN.

    1. Boy, imagine my surprise to see all this a year later when I had no need to upgrade InDesign CS4 until now because I started teaching again. Looks like I can’t get to CS6 at all because of the need to buy monthly subscription services. Anyone who can convince customers to pay a monthly fee for anything has a sure thing going to keep collecting money for little or nothing in return. What a gimmick! Can’t afford it.

      1. You can buy Indesign CS6 as a perpetual license, but you won’t qualify for the upgrade price anymore. However, since you’re a teacher you probably qualify for the Academic pricing of the perpetual (non-Cloud subscription)version of Indesign CS6, which is usually a pretty good deal.
        The fly in the ointment is that your students may be on the “Cloud”, which means that your perpetual version may not have the same features that their versions do.

        1. I was able to find a retail (box) upgrade to CS5.5 from CS4. Adobe still offers the CS6 perpetual upgrades but you have to search for it on their website. I’ll move to CS6 fairly soon just to avoid the version upgrade lapse. I’ve also noticed that the academic cloud version is being advertised for $20/month until March 11, 2013. Although that’s not a bad deal if you’re NOT a student, I don’t agree with the software subscription model.

          1. Too bad you had to pay for two upgrades to keep current. If John wonders why there’s so much negativity about Adobe on this blog, he can use your situation as an example.
            The last time Adobe changed the upgrade policy – at CS3, I think – they announced it at the release of the new product. This time they pulled the rug out from under their customers midstream.
            The right thing would have been to say “As of CS6 you can only upgrade from the last version.” Of course that might not have been a big enough stick to prod people into the “Cloud”.
            You’re right about the perpetual licenses being hard to find on the Adobe site. The only option shown is a “Cloud” subscription. You only see the perpetual license option after you click the button to buy the “Cloud” thing.
            OK, Adobe, we get that you would rather we have a perpetual payment than a perpetual license, but making us search for the product we prefer is annoying BS.

  63. I started using Photoshop 5 (not CS5) a long ling time ago. I have followed Adobe’s upgrade cycle, most recently upgrading from Photoshop CS to CS4. I haven’t even installed CS4 yet; I upgraded to preserve an upgrade path from IBM Power PC Macs to Intel Macs. I have now purchased an Intel Mac, and tried to purchase an upgrade from CS4 to CS6, only to find out that the opportunity to do so expired on 31 Dec. 2012. Even though I have an Adobe account and you have my email, I was never informed of this new policy deadline. This is not a good model for customer service.
    I still would like to upgrade to a permanently licensed copy of Photoshop CS6. If I find a sealed unused Photoshop CS6 upgrade for sale somewhere can I still use it to upgrade from Photoshop CS4 to CS6, or has Adobe now turned off that option at your upgrade activation servers?
    If I find a sealed unused Photoshop CS5 upgrade for sale somewhere can I still use it to upgrade from Photoshop CS4 to CS5, or has Adobe now turned off that option, too?
    No, I won’t rent via your cloud. Why? Because I read a comment by an Adobe employee on an Adobe tech blog that Photoshop CS6 files are not necessarily backwards compatible to Photoshop CS4 software, and that opening them with Photoshop CS4 will flatten all the layers – meaning, wipe out a huge investment of my time and effort. I have no control over what Adobe will charge for its cloud Photoshop rental in the future, and am not going to wager a lot of my hard work that I’ll be able to afford it forever.
    Is there any way that I can still upgrade to a permanently licensed Photoshop CS5 or CS6? Or was my upgrade to Photoshop CS4 the start of a permanent divorce of my bank account from Adobe?
    Of course, you have the right to change your upgrade policies at any time and in any way that you wish. You even have the right to neglect to inform your loyal customers of many years of these changes until it is too late for them to accommodate to your changed policies. I hate to say goodby, but if there is now no way for me to upgrade, it will be a regretful and sad adios…

    1. “I still would like to upgrade to a permanently licensed copy of Photoshop CS6. If I find a sealed unused Photoshop CS6 upgrade for sale somewhere can I still use it to upgrade from Photoshop CS4 to CS6, or has Adobe now turned off that option at your upgrade activation servers?
      If I find a sealed unused Photoshop CS5 upgrade for sale somewhere can I still use it to upgrade from Photoshop CS4 to CS5, or has Adobe now turned off that option, too?”
      You won’t be able to find a sealed, unused Photoshop CS6 upgrade. Photoshop Upgrades are available ONLY from the Adobe website (in the US, at least). If you find a sealed, unused CS5 upgrade, you’ll be able to upgrade to CS6 from that. It’ll still be less expensive than the full license.
      Or you can enroll in a school to take a class and qualify for the academic pricing, which would be less than buying both upgrades.

      1. Thank you for your suggestions.
        I work full time in rural central Nevada, and the nearest school (beyond high school) is an 8 hour round trip drive.
        Fortunately, Jeff Tranberry has come to my rescue!

  64. You what adobe you can keep your CS6 until there is an affordable upgrade plan from CS4 for individual consumers or until I hit it big. CS4 does what I need it to for now even though it is only the design suite. 😛
    You basically just ruined my chance and hopes at having a chance to get CS6 before I get out of the army. Thank you for all your lovely forethought and just know I may be going to another service that may be cheaper if not free.

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