Video Essentials

The Adobe Creative Cloud FAQ

The next generation of Adobe’s Creative Suite applications — including Premiere Pro , Photoshop, and After Effects — is going to be radically different that what you’re used to. That’s because the next generation of Creative Suite is called Creative Cloud, and you’ll no longer buy your apps, but subscribe to them.

Confused? No doubt. That’s why we’ve created this helpful FAQs article.

What is Creative Cloud and how will it work?

AdobeCreativeCloudAdobe is making all updated Creative Suite products available solely via the Creative Cloud, an online subscription model that requires a monthly license fee. To avoid alienating users, like Apple did with Final Cut Pro X, Adobe will wisely continue to sell CS6-level products and suites. Those will be fully supported, but not updated.

Products acquired via the Creative Cloud are downloaded and installed on your computer, just like current applications. You can install working versions of subscribed apps on two computers at a time, whether they’re Macs, Windows, or both. If you try to install any CC application on a third computer, you’ll have to sign out from one of your other two licensed computers.

How do I subscribe?

You can join the Creative Cloud on a yearly or monthly basis. If you join yearly, your computer has to contact Adobe every 99 days to verify the license. If you purchase monthly, your computer has to check in every 30 days. All you need is an internet connection and it should happen automatically. No doubt there will be multiple, highly publicized “my software quit working at the worst possible time even though I was fully licensed” stories, but Adobe has bright folks and they’ll work hard to minimize these occurrences.

Once you leave the Creative Cloud, your applications stop working, but any local or cloud-based files you worked on are yours to keep.

You can lease any single application or the entire Creative Cloud, but there are no sub-suites as there were before. It’s either one product or the whole enchilada. Once a member, you’re free to download and install any application at any time. Adobe will archive older versions of the application on the Creative Cloud, so you won’t be forced to upgrade to newer versions before you’re ready.

What applications are in Adobe Creative Cloud?

In the past, you could buy individual Creative Suite applications or bundled collections. The only two that contained video editor Premiere Pro were Production Premium and Master Collection. As you can see in Table 1, Production Premium was all about production-type applications, where the Master Collection included apps that enabled the delivery experience, plus Fireworks, another image editor.

Creative Cloud includes all tools in the Master Collection, plus Muse, a new web design tool, and two a couple others. You’ll also get many other tools and services, including 20GB of cloud storage. With Creative Cloud, you either license a single application or the equivalent of the Master Collection; there’s no in between.

Suite and Creative Cloud components

Suite and Creative Cloud components

What does Adobe Creative Cloud Cost?

As shown below, pricing depends upon whether or not you’re upgrading, and whether you’re buying month-to-month or making a yearly commitment. Note that if you make an annual commitment and later cancel, you’ll be charged 50 percent of the remaining amount left on your contract.

Creative Cloud pricing

Creative Cloud pricing

If you’re a new buyer making an annual commitment, the base price for the entire Creative Cloud is $49.99 per month. If you’re upgrading from CS6, the first year is $19.99 per month, and if you’re upgrading from CS3-CS5.5, the first year is $29.99 per month. In both cases, after the first year, the price adjusts to $49.99 per month.

If you buy the Creative Cloud on a month-to-month basis, the price is $74.99 per month. If you buy a single application on an annual contract, the monthly price is $19.99 per month, though you can qualify for $9.99 per month pricing for the first year if you’re upgrading from any CS3 or newer product and making a full year commitment. Month-to-month pricing on a single application is $29.99 per month.

Note that the $19.99 per month first year educational pricing expires on June 25; if you wait until the fall quarter to join the Creative Cloud, your pricing will be $29.99 per month. If you do sign up for the special, your price will adjust to the $29.99 per month perpetual pricing after one year. All other upgrade offers expire on July 31, 2013.

How does Creative Cloud subscription pricing compare to perpetual licensing?

The answer depends on which product you’re upgrading from (if any) and the type of purchase that you’re making. Any comparison also depends upon how long you expect to use the purchased product, as well as the value that you assign to the components of the Creative Cloud that you get as part of membership. Any price comparison ignores the fact that if you buy, you’re buying CS6, which is about two years old, while if you join the Creative Cloud, you’re leasing (in essence) CS7.

Here are some common scenarios with 12-, 24-, and 36-month cost comparisons. Keep in mind that when purchasing, you have to lay the cash out now, while the lease option spreads payments out.

New Buyer

If you’re a totally new buyer, you can either buy a single CS6 product or suite or join the Creative Cloud and get the most recent version of the product or products that you’re acquiring. Here’s what the numbers look like.

New editors, buy vs. lease

New editors, buy vs. lease

If you’re buying Premiere Pro only, the breakeven point occurs after the three year point. If you purchase Production Premium, the breakeven point also occurs after three years, but if you opt for the Creative Cloud membership you get access to many more products. If you need all the apps in the Master Collection, the Creative Cloud with an annual commitment is clearly the best option.

If you intend to keep the applications for the full three years, making the annual commitment is the way to go.

Upgrade From CS5 or CS5.5

If you own CS5 or CS5.5 versions of Premiere or any suite, you can upgrade to CS6 with very favorable pricing. For versions prior to that, there is no upgrade pricing for purchasing CS6 products or suites. Here’s how the numbers compare for CS5 or CS5.5 owners choosing between buying CS6 or joining the Creative Cloud.

Upgraders from versions 5 and 5.5, buy vs. lease

Upgraders from versions 5 and 5.5, buy vs. lease

The exceptionally favorable upgrade pricing that Adobe offers makes the Creative Cloud membership looks usurious by comparison, particularly for those buying on a month-to-month basis. Version 5.0 and especially 5.5 owners will have to take a hard look at the new features in the Creative Cloud versions of key applications to see if they justify going the Creative Cloud route.

Upgrade from CS3 or CS4

In this category, it’s the Creative Cloud upgrade policy that looks like manna from heaven: You get the full 12 month pricing break for any single or suite product from CS3 forward. As mentioned, CS6 upgrade pricing only applies to CS5 and CS 5.5, which means you’re paying full price for the purchased software. Here’s what the numbers look like.

Upgraders from CS3 or CS4, buy vs. lease

Upgraders from CS3 or CS4, buy vs. lease

Clearly, unless you think you’ll be using the software for longer than 3 years (making it five years old at the time), the Creative Cloud option is more favorable.


Comments are disallowed for this post.

  1. I subscribed to the Creative Cloud CS6 and did the downloads and installations. I already have CS3, but I can’t find the CS6 to start working. I am very frustrated.

    Posted by Sue Marrugi | June 2, 2013, 11:04 am
  2. What does the Creative Cloud mean to me ? It means I will not be Upgrading for some time to come. What I have works and there will be NO need to Board the “Cloud Train”.
    Get Lost. You have screwed your loyal customers.

    Posted by D.P. | June 4, 2013, 9:14 am
  3. So…will Adobe eliminate the 30-day free demos of these apps?

    That would really be a shame.

    Posted by ralf | June 4, 2013, 9:59 am
  4. Ralf:

    You can demo any app in the CC for 30 days, so no worries. It’s part of your free membership in the cloud.


    Posted by Jan Ozer | June 4, 2013, 10:27 am
  5. This is something I will resist for as long as possible. It is very expensive and very inconvenient. This could be the end of Adobe as we know it. Others will fill the void very quickly.

    Posted by William Thomas | June 4, 2013, 10:33 am
  6. Many schools use Adobe products in their classes. So what happens to those school districts that limit bandwidth and internet access if you have to rely on “THE CLOUD” in order for your students to access their projects? Does this force schools/districts to choose other programs? And if so, doesn’t that create an entire generation(s) of non-Adobe users?

    Posted by Tim | June 4, 2013, 10:53 am
  7. My bad for not being clearer on this. Once you download the programs, they work as they currently do; all content is local as before.

    The computer has to check in periodically to confirm the license, but that should have negligible impact on bandwidth.

    Posted by Jan Ozer | June 4, 2013, 10:56 am
  8. Time to look for tool set. Paying for the house, when all you want is a door.

    Posted by Chris | June 4, 2013, 12:40 pm
Subscribe to our Newsletter
email address
Online Video Playlist
Online Video Bulletin
Streaming Media Xtra
SM Europe Xtra