Creative Cloud versus Normal Upgrade

The current version of Adobe’s Creative Suite is CS6. I’ve been squatting on CS5.5 for a while, not wanting to update because I’m a cheapskate. However, I keep hearing that the new Photoshop is actually considerably refined to suck less, and is in fact rather amazing. The cost to upgrade from Creative Suite 5.5 Design Premium to 6.0 is US$375.00.

On the other hand, Adobe is also offering something called the Creative Cloud, which I see largely as a way to suck more money out of me on a subscription basis. Existing Creative Suite users get a 40% discount off the $49/month cost, so for a year it will be $29/month. The total cost is then US$348.00 for the first year, and then it rises to US$588.00 at full price.

I want to upgrade, but I’m not sure which path to take. So I thought I’d make a Rory Gilmore Pro-Con list. Rory was a character on the show Gilmore Girls, one of my guilty pleasures, and she would often make Pro-Con lists to help her make decisions when her gut didn’t give her a clear option. Or maybe she just liked making lists, which is a neurotic trait I share with her.

You get every app! It costs $600/year, forever!
You get new app Betas! It’s like Master Collection, for more money, but cross platform
You get Mac and Windows Upgrade cost to Master Collection is $1049
You don’t have to drop a lot of money all at once But you pay more money over time
Includes TypeKit Do I really trust Adobe’s non-App software engineering? No. It has historically sucked.
Includes AfterFX ADOBE OWNS ME
Includes Premiere Product stops working without Internet access in 30 days
One fixed cost upgrade, forever activated Still stuck just on Windows
Costs $375 right now Could spread the cost out monthly, covered by an hour or so of billable work
Normal point upgrades are around $600 Still on Design Premium, which doesn’t include media tools
Physical Media FTW

I’m actually coming down on the side of Creative Cloud. The big wins:

  • Run on Mac and Windows, which would help me transition to Mac OS. I’ll probably keep running both platforms, but having the option to run on both platforms would be convenient when dealing with clients or teaching people. Currently, you have to buy a separate license for each platform.
  • Creative Suite Design Premium, the current level of CS I have, does not include the video production tools. I have an older license of Premiere Pro, but not AfterFX. I don’t really have need for Adobe’s so-so audio tools since I have other software, but having access to AfterFX might be nice. It’s not a huge need, though, since I’m not doing a lot of video.
  • Creative Cloud includes Pro TypeKit membership
  • I can move this software from one tax expense category (from hardware/software, under section 179 to Maintenance or Office Expense). I don’t think there’s a benefit to me, but it’s fun to think about.

My suspicious nature, however, has me wondering about the following:

  • Is the implementation of Creative Cloud horrible, as has been my experience with most 1.0 Adobe products? It takes them 4 or 5 versions to get it to the point where it’s not bloated, slow, or just plain awful. The two products I’m thinking of specifically are Bridge and Photoshop Elements, and the extension manager. Do I want that crap on my computer? On the other hand, a lot of this stuff is already on my current Windows 7 box, and it hasn’t been too bad recently. So I’m willing to give it a try.
  • Do I like the idea of being tied to a subscription, instead of “owning” a license in perpetuity? NO. On the other hand, I have never found myself going back to an older version of CS. I don’t really see a time when I won’t have a relatively-current version of the best professional graphics software I can afford.

Above all, though, do I need this?

Need It Or Not?
I use these tools to create my work for sale I don’t offer a lot of design services anymore
I can scrape by with CS 5.5 Some clients I have already are using CS6, creating a version mismatch
Being up to date is important to me, because I’m just like that about my tools I can get by on other tools or older versions, but you know…I hate using crappy tools
It’s sort of a necessary luxury

So I think I’ve convinced myself to do the upgrade. The cost of $29/month for the first year, and even at $49/month, is not a lot of money in terms of the cost of running my creative business. And, I might actually be encouraged to use some of those additional tools (particularly Adobe Edge) to do some new work. It’s cheaper than upgrading Premiere Pro CS4.

I do hate the idea of paying $49/month for access to the software, though. But this might encourage me to just try to sell more graphic services or whatever to pay for it. That additional stress might be good for me, business-wise. I’ve been running a very low overhead operation for a long time.

In Summary

I think it’s worth doing this for a year at $29/month, and then considering the upgrade path then to CS7 or whatever when that time comes. So let’s do it!