What Exactly Is Cloud Software? Is Adobe’s Move Crazy?

May 9, 2013

Two days ago I wrote How Do You Document Software Without a Version? So far the post has gotten a number of comments and only a couple of them addressed the questions I posed. Most of the comments are instead the commenter’s disagreement with “cloud” software as a whole.

Some of the comments showed that Adobe has done a very poor job of explaining how their particular software works in the “cloud.” Today I want to dig a little more deeply into cloud software and how the term gets applied in different situations.

But before we get into the cloud, I want to share my opinion on Adobe Creative Cloud. Plain and simple, I am extremely frustrated with the direction they’ve chosen. While Adobe may try to claim otherwise, I feel they’ve doubled their prices on me. Let’s look at the numbers as I understand them.

I currently own the Adobe CS6 Master Collection. If you upgraded with each version, the cost was around $600 per version and it gives you almost every piece of software Adobe produces (Lightroom is a notable exception). Of that suite, the only tools I use regularly are Acrobat and InDesign. I would guess I open Photoshop and Illustrator about once a month to convert a file. So I already feel I overpay greatly for what I get from the suite.

As an owner of the CS6 suite, Adobe will be nice enough to give me Creative Cloud for $20 a month for the first year. OK, that’s $240 and I can live with that. But after the first year, it would be $50 a month ($600 a year) and all software would stop working immediately if I choose not to pay anymore. Until Adobe comes to their senses and offers more reasonable pricing, I will stay with what I have.

Now let’s talk about what cloud means. There are some “cloud” packages that will run over the Internet. Sometimes these packages have workarounds to do some work offline, but most of the time you do need a connection. Adobe’s Creative Cloud is different. Yes, there are a few components that will require a connection. Yet the programs like Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, Dreamweaver and others are installed on your computer. New updates are released from time-to-time and you would need a connection to download them. They will also need to somehow connect to Adobe occasionally to know that your account is current (paid). But if you want to be disconnected when you do the majority of your work, that isn’t a problem.

Before you dismiss software that has the word “cloud” in the title, it wouldn’t hurt to research that specific piece of software to see exactly how cloud is defined. It may be something that will work for you and it may not.

Adobe claims that users have overwhelming praised the cloud version in the year that it has been available. I’m not really surprised that users who knowingly chose it would be in favor of it. Yet I also feel there will be a huge backlash (I’ve already heard from many users) against the cessation of boxed versions.

It is also important to note that Adobe’s plan has also greatly diminished piracy. Over time, there will be significantly fewer users of their software. But if a large percentage of the lost users are those who aren’t paying, they will make more money in the long run. While we as users can determine if this is the right choice for our own businesses, it is also possible that this truly is the best choice for Adobe’s business. It may not be the best choice for you.

Other companies offer subscriptions for their software and we even use a few in our office. I actually don’t mind them. The key is the software does not stop working when you stop paying. We simply will get no new updates if we choose not to renew our subscription. Of course none of those subscriptions have the obscene pricing of the Adobe Creative Cloud.

As with many things in the computer industry, change is fast and inevitable. Yet some changes get reversed over time. So we will just have to wait and see if Adobe changes their tune or if they continue down the software rental path. I just know that I don’t have any plans to rent their software anytime soon.

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Foster D. Coburn III is author of 13 best-selling books on CorelDRAW and has been a contributor to numerous technology and graphics-related magazines. Foster has taken many projects, including this Web site, from the early design stage through to a finished piece. He has been a featured speaker at many graphics conferences. His first Web site was built in 1995 and he has been working exclusively in WordPress since 2013.

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