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Column: Is Adobe charging monthly rent?

Adobe Systems headquarters

Adobe Systems headquarters Credit: Adobe Systems headquarters in California. (Getty)

This week, Adobe, producer of Photoshop and other creative software made a landmark announcement: the Creative Cloud just ate the Creative Suite.

Going forward, Adobe will not sell boxed versions of its Creative Suite products like the aforementioned Photoshop. Buyers will have to purchase software subscriptions, meaning you can only use a piece of software as long as you pay Adobe a monthly fee for access to its Creative Cloud.

This is a massive paradigm shift for the software industry, and quite a controversial one. The proponents of Adobe’s move applaud the company’s high-end $49.99/month package, which includes access to software that costs thousands of dollars at retail, as well as regular upgrades and enhancements.

However, critics are pointing out that for many users, the cost of using Adobe products will rise significantly. In the past, many Photoshop users would only upgrade every two or three generations, paying $200-300 every few years. Now, to upgrade from a past version of Photoshop, they’ll be forced to pay $240 each year for access.

So will we start paying monthly fees for all our software?

I’m not so sure. The 800-pound gorilla of software, Microsoft, is resisting an aggressive move toward a subscription-only model. On a company blog, it noted that it sees a ten-year time horizon before universal acceptance of subscription-based software. Therefore, Adobe’s new strategy represents an interesting test that may impact software buying forever.

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