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4/23/2012
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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.

Adobe also is simplifying its packaging of Web and print design products by creating one Creative Suite 6 Design and Web Premium edition of the suite, where previously it had separate "premium" editions that emphasized either design or Web development. Most designers and developers are doing a little of both today, so that division no longer makes sense, Voltmer said.

A current user of one of the premium editions will be presented with a choice between upgrading to a CS6 perpetual license for $375 or spending about $360 over the next year at the $29.95-per-month introductory rate. At current pricing, Creative Cloud would cost about $600 per year to continue to subscribe to in future years.

Most of what Adobe is offering through Creative Cloud is not cloud software in the sense of being delivered through a Web interface. Products such as Photoshop require too much processing horsepower and access to native graphics to be replicated in that mode today, or maybe ever. However, Creative Cloud does include the new Touch Apps Adobe has created for sketching designs and assembling ideas on smart phones and tablets, then using those as prototypes for Web or print products. Creative Cloud also includes 20 gigabytes of storage, as well as tools for synchronizing applications and content across devices. Voltmer said Adobe will be looking to introduce more Web-based products over time, where it makes sense.

There will also be a team edition of Creative Cloud coming in the second half of 2012, which will deliver cloud collaboration capabilities to go along with the creative ones, at a price of $69.95 per person per month.

One other pricing variation is a month-to-month deal--which Voltmer characterized as making sense for someone who wants access to the full suite, but for a short period of time, perhaps for a specific project. That's $74.99 per month, without the one-year commitment.

Creative Cloud software downloads can function offline, but they do need to connect with the cloud service at least once a month to verify that the subscription has been renewed on schedule.

Creative Suite 6 also includes many functional improvements, such as the ability for the latest version of the Flash design to export animations that play without the use of the Flash player, using HTML5 and JavaScript. Photoshop CS6's new high-performance graphics engine, combined with "content aware" manipulation of other images, make it easier to retouch photos or add special effects (see the video from the launch event). Dreamweaver will be able to incorporate HTML5 animations and other effects, and Web designs can be designed to automatically reconfigure themselves for display on a PC, a tablet, or a phone. Rather than simply resizing content, this capability uses CSS media queries to reorder text and image elements for whatever makes sense in each format.

Follow David F. Carr on Twitter @davidfcarr. The BrainYard is @thebyard and facebook.com/thebyard

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