creative-cloud-adobeAs I mentioned in my last post, Adobe today announced the upcoming release of both the  CS6 Creative Suite, including Photoshop CS6, and Adobe’s new Creative Cloud subscription service.  There are now therefore two ways to purchase Photoshop CS6 — as we are accustomed to, through purchase of the stand-alone traditional product, and now also through the new Creative Cloud subscription service.

Below is my early take on the options.

 Overview of Pricing and Options

The traditional stand-alone Photoshop CS6 full version will be $699, and the upgrade will be $199.  (Photoshop CS6 Extended, which contains the ability to create and manipulate 3D objects, is $999/$399. Note that video editing has moved from the Extended version to the Standard version.) Upgrade pricing is available to owners of CS3 or later, though for CS3 and CS4 owners, it will expire December 31, 2012.

As before, you can also purchase the stand-alone version of various bundles of subsets of Creative Suite software which include Photoshop CS6.

The Creative Cloud is a subscription plan — for an annual fee, you have access to:

  • The entire Creative Suite of software (Photoshop CS6 Extended, Illustrator, Lightroom 4, InDesign, Muse, Acrobat X Pro, Flash Pro, Flash Builder, Dreamweaver, Edge, Fireworks, Premier Pro, After Effects, Audition, SpeedGrade, Prelude, Encore, Bridge, and Media Encoder)
  • Integration with Adobe Touch apps (purchased separately)
  • Cloud storage (20 GB) and sharing
  • Tools for publishing apps and websites
  • Access to new software features as they become available — i.e. in advance of stand-alone purchasers who must wait for a new stand-alone release (18-24 months? longer?).


For more information, here is the Adobe home page for information on the Creative Cloud.


A one-year Cloud subscription is payable in advance. The base subscription breaks down to a monthly fee of $49.99, but owners of at least one individual Creative Suite product (e.g. Photoshop), CS3 or later can get the first year for $29.99/month.

Which Version Makes More Sense?

Of course this will depend on your needs and interests. To weigh the two, I would start with the following three questions:

How Many Products or Services Would You Like to Use?

If you are a graphic designer or other rich-content creator, you most likely use many products in the Suite. In this case Cloud pricing becomes very attractive. It is a harder case for photographers though, as many of us use very few products.

I would highly encourage you to review the products yourself, but my take on it is that if you are a photographer, and plan to continue doing photo work only (and basic video editing, which Photoshop CS6 now can do significantly more of), you may only need Lightroom, and possibly, for more complicated work, Photoshop.  If you are eligible for upgrade pricing on both, you can get the stand-alone versions of both for $199 + $79 = $278, far less than the $360 first year and $600 planned subsequent year Cloud pricing.  If you  are not eligible for upgrade pricing, the stand-alone price is $699 + $149 = $848, compared to the Cloud price of $600, and the Cloud becomes more of a contender. If a third product interests you or the cloud storage and sharing are compelling to you, the case for the Cloud starts to become an easier one.

How Up-to-Date Do You Want to Be?

Adobe has told analysts and investors that its goal over time is to get all or most of its customers onto the more-profitable subscription plan, so they have a great interest in making cool new features available to Cloud subscribers well in advance of stand-alone purchasers. That cool new image de-blur technology they gave us a glimpse of, but is not ready for CS6?  My guess is that it will make it into the Cloud well in advance of CS7.  Adobe has stated that Cloud products could be updated weekly or monthly.

Are you committed to staying in the Cloud?

With a Cloud subscription, you always have access to all of the latest and greatest, but when you cancel your subscription, you walk away with nothing.  Conversely, when you purchase the stand-alone products, you own and can use them forever.  Be aware that with the Cloud subscription there is also no price guarantee from year to year — when your subscription comes up for renewal next year, the price may or may not be $49.99.

If You’re On the Fence, Consider Giving it a Try

According to the Adobe FAQ, if you purchase the annual subscription and cancel within 30 days, you can receive a complete refund; if you cancel within the first 6 months you  receive a 50% refund.  CS3 and CS4 owners beware: if you decide to switch from the Cloud to the stand-alone version of CS6 after December 31, 2012, you will have lost your eligibility for upgrade pricing.

When Will CS6 and the Cloud Be Available?

The date has not yet been announced, but when you pre-order on the Adobe site, it gives an “estimated” date of May 7.