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Adobe Serves Up Creative Cloud Buffet

Blending cloud and desktop software offerings, Adobe makes the latest upgrade to its Creative Suite products available as an all-you-can-eat buffet, for a monthly fee.

The Adobe Creative Suite 6 upgrade would have been big news for designers and Web developers by itself. But by moving these desktop software products to a cloud business model, Adobe is now offering the most comprehensive master edition of that suite--valued at $2,599 for a full license--for $49.95 per month, with a one-year commitment.

Adobe Creative Cloud was announced in October, although at the time few pricing and packaging details were available. Existing Creative Suite users with a license to CS3 or later can take advantage of a limited time offer of $29.95 per month for the first year.

All this compares favorably with buying a perpetual license and paying for upgrades as they are released--although subscription pricing also means software installed on your computer will stop working if you stop paying the monthly fee. Creative Cloud might not make as much sense to developers and designers who tend to sit out some upgrades. Creative Suite 5.5 was released less than a year ago. But particularly in terms of Web development, the logic of Adobe's strategy is to provide more frequent upgrades to keep pace with the latest HTML, Cascading Style Sheets, and mobile application development technologies. Creative Cloud customers will get immediate access to the latest HTML5 development and design tools such as Adobe Muse, a visual design tool, and Adobe Edge, an animation tool.

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Adobe president and CEO Shantanu Narayen said the overall goal is to provide creative professionals with access to all the resources they need, without worrying about the details of pricing and packaging. "We're passionate addressing this gap between what the creative economy can create and what's available in the tools," he said.

Adobe said Creative Cloud and Creative Suite 6 will be available within 30 days, and it is taking pre-orders now.

A Creative Cloud subscription also means not having to decide ahead of time what tools you need for your work--nearly every design and development tool for print, Web, animation, video, or audio that Adobe makes is available to download and install on demand.

The result will be easier access to "Adobe magic," director of product marketing Heidi Voltmer said. "We want people to think more about content, and less about steps in software" used to create that content, she said.

This is much different from Adobe's traditional pricing for Creative Suite. For example, Creative Suite 6 Design Standard, $1,299 for a full license, is built around Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, making it a complete suite for visual design and desktop publishing, or for creating images for use in a Web design--but without access to the tools for laying out or scripting Web pages. Creative Cloud customers will have more freedom to experiment with Adobe tools they only use on an occasional basis.

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