Microsoft to Adobe: It's too early to dump stand-alone software

On Monday, Adobe announced that it would discontinue making future stand-alone versions of its popular Creative Suite software products in favor of its cloud-based Creative Cloud subscription software service. Today, Microsoft has given its opinion on Adobe's move and it's a little surprising.

In a post on the official Office blog, Microsoft stated that the company is already moving towards a cloud subscription business model for its software, including Office 365, while still providing stand-alone Office 2013 packages. On the other hand, Microsoft thinks that the cloud subscription model may not be palatable for every customer. It states:

However, unlike Adobe, we think people's shift from packaged software to subscription services will take time. Within a decade, we think everyone will choose to subscribe because the benefits are undeniable. In the meantime, we are committed to offering choice--premier software sold as a package and powerful services sold as a subscription.

The message is that Microsoft would love for everyone to simply sign up and pay for a yearly subscription to Office 365, but it also knows that there are lots of software users who just want to buy a DVD or download code, install the software and be done with it.

Microsoft does add in its blog post that since the launch of both Office 365 Home Premium and Office 365 University in late January, it has seen over a quarter of its consumers buy the Office 365 subscription service over the stand alone Office software which it says has exceeded its expectations. The blog said. "So, perhaps the shift is happening faster than we originally thought, and Adobe is helping blaze the trail."

Source: Microsoft | Image via Adobe

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For people that say I use it sometimes and not all the time you could always activate your subscription and then cancel it. Guess what when you need it in 6 months you can just activate it again. OMG for the few times I need it I only paid 50.00 a year and I have the latest. Its not that bad. If you know your not going to use it for months just cancel it and don't buy the contract version of it.

All it is, is a way to milk a constant money stream from users that have been sucked in one way or the other. Microsoft started and others are starting to do the same thing. It actually makes me quite sick...

I actually hope users react by NOT buying software from companies that use these tactics!

While I don't mind the option, I do think the success of SaaS is quite dangerous to the existence of retail copies.

Everyone who buys into the iOS driven web startups is pouring gas on this fire, as they are already purely in that method. It is only the 'old guard' as it were that is defending consumer choice.

At least with boxed software, if you don't use it heavily, you can recover the cost over a long period. Subscription takes that option away, and I guess the people who have that use case are the ones who are being vocal about the forced move to subscription.

They need a pay as you go model, too. I use it may be about once or twice a month. All the available options (including boxed software) are too costly for my needs. I would gladly pay 20$ (heck, I will pay even 50) for 30 separate days of use rather than a month.

Interesting concept and because it's more fair to the customer will absolutely be ignored. This is greed at it's best.

With cloud based subscription model we'll wipe out history of software versions for future generations.

I had an Adobe Cloud Subscription - after having it for 48 hours I cancelled it and was refunded my money - every update to the installed software was "bloatware", you not only had to install the original software, but every update to get the "latest" updates, which are stored on your mac/pc - then to add salt to the vinegar, I open up Illustrator and informed that I need a java runtime environment - puhhlease! There are some major alternatives now, e.g. Pixelmator, Intaglio, et al, that are just as functional is their Adobe equivalents - all (Adobe) they are after is the almighty dollar! - Back in the late 80's we used to hard-code postscript files to get them to print properly, fonts were purchased on floppy disks, and customer support was more than often someone from an Adobe tech working on the software, not a call-centre ... it's a very sad day

You own NOTHING. Stop paying and you're done (after your 12 month minimum of course). At least now I can fire up CS6 3 years from now if I want to do something. This is sheer greed and shows a complete lack of respect to it's customers. It should be an OPTION and nothing more. Microsoft, the voice of reason, ironic.

Thankfully, all I really need in Photoshop, so $19.99/month is decent. I buy every new version anyway, so now that they've moved to a 12-month cycle, it comes out about the same in terms of cost.

COKid said,
Thankfully, all I really need in Photoshop, so $19.99/month is decent. I buy every new version anyway, so now that they've moved to a 12-month cycle, it comes out about the same in terms of cost.

Except Photoshop gets updates every other year. So you'll end up paying more.

Not really. What you get is the EXTENDED version of photoshop. Whether you need those features or not does not matter, that is the version you are getting. Which is $1000 for a full license.

With the annual commitment of the $19.99 a month option, it will take over 4 years to even reach that initial $1,000 cost of CS6 EXTENDED (again, whether you need the extra features or not does not matter. This is the version you are getting. So compare apples to apples). In that 4 year time, there will probably be updates that would have costed you in the past (with the Upgrade editions). So it really is a much better option.

xWhiplash said,
So it really is a much better option.

Indeed, the subscription based model is way better than to buy the box. However, the box allows to re-sells.

Interesting take on things. I agree too, this came down to piracy. I think Adobe has every right to protect their intellectual property through subscription. Honestly, I know persons who simply have Adobe Creative Suite just to claim they have it and never use it. At the same time, I know amazing freelancers who have the entire suite, do amazing work in it, make good money off the software, but never bought a genuine license. Adobe CC is for persons like that. Then again, I know freelancers who are OK with using Adobe CS2. To be frank, since CS3, Adobe Creative Suite has pretty much become non-detrimental upgrades on forward.

The other day, I had to work on a banner for print and my Photoshop 7.0 did it just fine, not to mention it easier. I have Photoshop CS 6 and its intimidating. What you will see happen though is persons will just pirate Adobe CS6 and don't worry about updates. I wouldn't be surprised if a work around is developed for CC to prevent it from phoning home, but persons will likely stick with CS6 just like how they are sticking with Windows 7.

It has NOTHING to do with piracy, folks.

Remember that Adobe decided a long time ago that it made more sense to charge 10,000 customers $1,000 than to charge 100,000 customers $100 dollars. It's the same total revenue but a LOT less customer support, etc. and thus far lower costs (= more profit!).

This forced their pricing model towards businesses that MUST have it and therefore must pay, while ignoring the rampant piracy among people who couldn't afford it anyway. They knew that these people would be learning the software, which would then force businesses to buy it for their employees, etc.

A win-win for Adobe.

It should be interesting to see how this works for them.

Yes, it is way to early to abandon stand-alone software. Some of us still believe that security is paramount in one's setting, whether at an office or at home. The "cloud" is a hacker's dream--just the place to reveal your data to the world at large. Oh, lets not forget the subscription fees. A perfect "gotcha" for the issuing company to hold you hostage if you don't pay.

The "Cloud" version is plenty capable of working offline and saving exclusively to your own computer. It is stupid for Adobe to do what they have done, but this is not one of the reasons why

I think that if your paying a subscription, you should always have stand alone software available. Living in Alaska, theres going to be a good couple decades before I can go anywhere with the internet.

The Cloud version is a bit of a misnomer, as it only needs to call home once every 180 days (it tries once a month though) if you buy it a year at a time

Maybe but it does save you quite a bit of money if you need photoshop. A standalone license used to be what like $1000 and then $300 for upgrades?

For a subscription its now $20 a month so it'll take you 50 months before you end up paying the original price. It's also good news for students and others who simply couldn't just afford coughing up $1000 for a piece of software in one go. Granted this is for photoshop only, not sure how the creative suite prices compare.

-Razorfold said,
..good news for students...
There is an education version of all of the Adobe products. Photoshop by itself, is around $300.

The entire CS, should I buy now and upgrade once every two years, would see a break even in costs with the Cloud version of the same in about 12 years

$650 at Newegg. So in 2.5 years, you own it and don't HAVE to upgrade. For professionals, maybe they need the latest and greatest. As for others, I know people using CS3 still, or even older. The upgrade can be had for $200.

I agree that it's easier to pay small amounts than a big lump, though.

Just about any subscription for any piece of software, is a money grab and nothing else. Even if piracy ISN'T involved. The fact is that people who pirate won't pay anyway. They'll just continue to use the old stuff or use an alternative.

At my school district, we paid over $13,000 in licensing fees and couldn't get support with installation issues, that were caused by them, without paying even more for support. They finally released a version of AIMEE that actually worked. As a school, their monthly pricing is ridiculous compared to what we pay for the regular version.

$650 at Newegg. So in 2.5 years, you own it and don't HAVE to upgrade. For professionals, maybe they need the latest and greatest. As for others, I know people using CS3 still, or even older. The upgrade can be had for $200.

Dam $650? Why did I think it used to be close to a thousand Maybe the prices changed or I'm confused.

There is an education version of all of the Adobe products. Photoshop by itself, is around $300.

The student version of creative cloud is $13 a month.

-Razorfold said,
Maybe but it does save you quite a bit of money if you need photoshop. A standalone license used to be what like $1000 and then $300 for upgrades?

For a subscription its now $20 a month so it'll take you 50 months before you end up paying the original price. It's also good news for students and others who simply couldn't just afford coughing up $1000 for a piece of software in one go. Granted this is for photoshop only, not sure how the creative suite prices compare.

Photoshop costs $599 with $199 for upgrade. That's nearly 4 years (they used to release new CS about every 2 years) for $800 vs $960 for the subscription. Price difference only gets bigger and bigger past your first retail upgrade of $199. And what about people who don't need each and every new version?

Photoshop costs $599 with $199 for upgrade. That's nearly 4 years (they used to release new CS about every 2 years) for $800 vs $960 for the subscription. Price difference only gets bigger and bigger past your first retail upgrade of $199. And what about people who don't need each and every new version?

Ah well maybe I was just confusing it for some other software that costs $1000 who knows. Oh well guess I'm wrong in that case.

You're correct, I was referring to the standard edition of Photoshop. I'm a web designer/developer and never needed the Extended edition (probably like most people though)

This has more to do with piracy than servicing their customers. Adobe's products are very expensive and therefore are one of the most pirated applications on the Internet.

The worst part about all of this, is that Adobe's Creative Suite cloud version offer nothing over the boxed version, other than version updates when one comes along, but costs -- more -- than their counterpart. If you plan to use the same version for a number of years versus upgrading when it's not entirely compelling, now you're stuck.

Edited by ahinson, May 8 2013, 2:00am :

Piracy has little to do with it, because these people who pirate would never be able to afford the ridiculous prices anyway, so Adobe have lost zero money. Adobe simply want continuous stable income, this is why the cloud appeals to so many companies.

In many ways piracy helps Adobe. I know people who have jobs because they have been using pirated Adobe software for years and become very good with it. Kids grow up using pirated versions of Adobe software, which then helps them get creative/design jobs and they stick to this software as they're familiar with it. Once they start making money they often then buy the software or the company pays for it.

I don't believe piracy has much to do with it either. It's largely about Adobe wanting to make more money off of people. Why allow users to buy a Creative Suite license once and use it for years, when you can force them to pay a monthly fee indefinitely?

W32.Backdoor.KillAV.E said,
Piracy has little to do with it, because these people who pirate would never be able to afford the ridiculous prices anyway...

In many ways piracy helps Adobe. I know people who have jobs because they have been using pirated Adobe software for years and become very good with it...

I disagree. There are plenty of people who can afford the software but pirate it anyway. Especially when considering the cost of CS. At work I was considering buying Illustrator and looked into CS, then realized I could download and use CS2 without dealing with activation. Guess which version I'm using now. It's not CS6.

Also, software companies see pirated software as a loss. They want to convert those losses to sales, and/or stop pirating. Forcing the subscription model is one way to limit access and restrict pirating, and provide a more consistent revenue stream. They need to dial back the cost imo, in the short term it's not super expensive, but if you consider that you'd be using the software for a number of years you end of paying for it multiple times - which is typical of rental programs since you never stop paying for the thing and once you do stop paying you have nothing.

I do agree that pirated software does help those that can't afford to the purchase. However, the cost of student versions is pretty low compared to full retail. It's about 1/3 of the normal cost $385 vs $1189.

Edited by ahinson, May 8 2013, 10:15am :

ahinson said,
The worst part about all of this, is that Adobe's Creative Suite cloud version offer nothing over the boxed version, other than version updates when one comes along, but costs -- more -- than their counterpart. If you plan to use the same version for a number of years versus upgrading when it's not entirely compelling, now you're stuck.

Not sure if i've misread you, are you saying the BOXED version of CS6 offers NOTHING over the CreativeCloud subscription version? :-/

ahinson said,
This has more to do with piracy than servicing their customers.

The problem is piracy brings a lot of new clients. It's particularly true in the case of Photoshop because of the price. Lot of amateurs use Photoshop (even if considering their skill level another software would do the job) because all the guides and good books are made for it (the UI). If they ever start to make a living out of their work they buy it.

Now if it becomes impossible to pirate it all those amateurs may start using something else and pro might start making guides for other less expensive products that can do the job in 95% of the use cases.

The strength of Photoshop is not only its advanced features. It's an industry standard you almost need to use (sorta like Office). If it stop being an industry standard then people who don't really need the advanced features will start looking at alternatives. It will also make bulding better alternatives more enticing for devs.

I've always been under the impression that Adobe was quite lenient on piracy. High School aged people don't have a lot of cash, but want to use learn Photoshop/Illustrator end up pirating it. Adobe tools remain the defacto standard for the industry. Then when it comes to time actually make a profit using Adobe products, they'll tend to buy them legitimately.

primexx said,
unlike you, most people don't blatantly pirate software they use for work.
I didn't pirate it. I downloaded CS2 directly from Adobe who provided the files and keys at activate it. They no longer require key validation to use and Adobe no longer sells it.

http://www.adobe.com/downloads/cs2_downloads/

When I downloaded it, there was no disclaimer at the top saying that it was for those who already owned a license. They were just freely available to download including keys, with no mention of licensing or anything.

Edited by ahinson, May 8 2013, 11:31pm :

When I visited the link, I found this clearly mentioned on top of the page

Adobe has disabled the activation server for CS2 products, including Acrobat 7, because of a technical issue. These products were released more than seven years ago, do not run on many modern operating systems, and are no longer supported.

"Adobe strongly advises against running unsupported and outdated software. The serial numbers below should only be used by customers who legitimately purchased CS2 or Acrobat 7 and need to maintain their current use of these products"

So technically what you did is also a kind of piracy, assuming you didn't have CS2 license beforehand..

ahinson said,

When I downloaded it, there was no disclaimer at the top saying that it was for those who already owned a license. They were just freely available to download including keys, with no mention of licensing or anything.

Whether the web page said it was for people with licenses is irrelevant. You still agreed to the license agreement.

nub said,

Whether the web page said it was for people with licenses is irrelevant. You still agreed to the license agreement.

This is correct, I did accept the licensing agreement, which only makes mention of having a license key -- which was given to me by Adobe -- and no where in the agreement does it state that in order to accept it or the EULA, that one must have paid for the software.

Granted, when it was available to me and I downloaded it. There was no mention that the download was for those who already had a license. I'm not the only person out there who has this opinion. Read this...

http://www.philedmonds.com/201...r-free-too-good-to-be-true/