Updated January 23, 2015 – So here we are, it’s 2015. And it’s two years since Adobe announced that they will be retiring the Creative Suite (aka, no CS7 after CS6). Even though this decision brought plenty of outrage with nearly 50,000 customers signing a petition to bring back the perpetual product, which even led Adobe to issue a statement leaving the possibility open that perpetual licenses may come back, we are certain that we won’t ever see a one-time buy-it-now and use-it-forever license for Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere Pro, Dreamweaver and the rest of the it professional design programs ever come back. You can clearly see wall street loves the subscription-only change as reflected in their stock price over the last few years (see ADBE on Google Finance).
So where does this leave us? Well, this basically leaves you two options: (1) pay an ongoing subscription fee for Creative Cloud (CC) or (2) purchase a CS6 point product/suite. For the average user, both options have their plusses and minuses.
Pro’s and Cons of Creative Cloud
- Pro: You always have the most up-to-date software programs, with all of the latest features and improvements, from Adobe.
- Pro: Predictable costs as you know roughly how much it’ll cost you each month.
- Con: Adobe can rase monthly and annual subscription prices at any time.
- Pro: You can sign up for as little as a month and then cancel. This is especially useful if you need to use one of their products for a special one-off project.
- Con: If you cancel your subscription, you won’t be able to edit any of your existing work (unless it’s with a non-Adobe product).
- Con: Adobe has less incentive update their products and add new features as they no longer have to convince customers to upgrade from older versions (this was always a huge hurtle to overcome at every new product release).
- Con: The software must communicate to Adobe servers on a regular basis to check that your membership is valid. This in essence means that Adobe can, if only somewhat, monitor your use of their software.
Pro’s and Cons of Creative Suite 6 (CS6)
- Pro: Pay once and you can use your license for as long as your wish (i.e. no subscription).
- Pro: In the long-run, you can save $1000’s vs. paying a monthly subscription.
- Con: You’ll be missing out on certain new features and improvements (more on that below on the exact differences between the two versions).
- Pro: No internet connection required.
- Con: If you have a client sending you work that was made with any Creative Cloud versions (i.e. CC 2014, CC 2015, etc.), then you will not be able to open or edit it without being on the newer version.
Costs and Breakeven
With costs being the #1 issue for those deciding weather to get CC or CS6, let’s take a look at the break-even time for some of the major plans.
- Adobe CC full plan, annual vs. Master Collection CS6 (annual plan at $49.99/month vs. full priced license at $2599): 52 months which is about 4.3 years.
- Adobe CC full plan upgrade, annual vs. Master Collection CS6 (annual plan – upgrade from CS at $29.99/month vs. upgrade priced license at $999):
- Adobe CC full plan, monthly vs. Master Collection CS6 (monthly plan at $74.99/month vs. full priced license at $2599): 33.3 months which is about 2.8 years.
- Photoshop CC vs. Photoshop CS6 (annual plan at $19.99/month vs. full priced license at $699): 35 months which is about 3 years.
- Photoshop CC vs. Photoshop CS6 (monthly plan at $29.99/month vs. full priced license at $699): 23.3 months which is about 2 years.
- Photoshop CC vs. Photoshop CS6 (annual plan at $19.99/month vs. upgrade priced license at $199): About 10 months.
- Photoshop CC & Lightroom CC package vs. Photoshop CS6 & Lightroom 5 (annual plan at $9.99/month vs. full priced licenses at $699 and $149): 84.88 months which is a little over 7 years.
We won’t go through every single option but this should give you a general idea on the time it takes to break-even between paying for the subscription and paying once for the license. Keep in mind that all monthly subscription options cost much more versus the annual ones so these break-even dates will be reduced with these comparisons.
So what are the differences in Photoshop CC and CS6?
We are currently on the “2014” version of CC with Adobe CC 2015 expected to be released sometime in Q4 (likely around the time of the Adobe MAX conference in October). Here’s a detailed look at the features offered in Photoshop CC, CS6, CS5, CS4 and CS3. You’ll be able to find all of the other comparisons on each specific product page.
Where to download.
If you’ve been browsing through Adobe’s site then you’ve probably noticed that all paths lead you to downloading CC. Well, hidden deeply on one of their help pages, you can still download and install CS6, CS5.5, CS5, CS4, CS3 and CS2 officially from adobe.com.
Where to buy.
Did you know that CS6 full and upgrade versions are still sold at adobe.com? Here’s the link (just note that you can configure upgrades once you add your selection to the cart – Upgrades are priced for less than the full prices listed on the page). Just note that they no longer sell CS6 with any upgrade discounts. We recommend that you take a look at what’s still available at resellers like Amazon or on eBay.
If you’re looking to buy CC, you can do so from adobe.com or an authorized reseller like Newegg or Staples which may have special deals going on form time to time. Student discounts on Adobe CC can be found at Academic Superstore or JourneyEd.