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Adobe Buying Guide: Creative Cloud (CC) or CS6 - Which to Get?

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Creative Cloud (CC) or Adobe CS6 – Which Should You Buy?

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295 thoughts on “Adobe Buying Guide: Creative Cloud (CC) or CS6 - Which to Get?”

  1. @ProDesignTools

    Yes I know all about the upgrade program, and sure we can upgrade, but it’s not the same because you’re not getting the same thing. I think we can all see where Adobe is going with this cloud thing. Several of the new cutting edge programs are NOT offered with an upgrade. CS6 “master collection” doesn’t include Muse, Edge and a couple others – so it’s NOT the “master collection” anymore, it’s the Almost master collection. And even though you have an “option” to upgrade or not, it’s not really much of an option any more since Adobe has made it clear moving forward that if you don’t upgrade every full release (i.e. CS6 to CS7 or under the current schedule every 2 years) you will lose your upgrade path altogether. From where I sit it seems as though Adobe’s goal is to eventually move everyone to the cloud where you have no choice at all, either pay or be out of business.

    “each year you’ll get the chance to buy an upgrade that includes all the new features and improvements”

    So your saying that Muse (and EDGE when the public preview is over) will be included in the CS6.5 release?? We’ll see what happens when CS6.5 comes out – that will tell us a lot about where Adobe really wants to take this whole thing.

    Joel

    Reply
    • Well we can’t say what Adobe’s future plans are with newer tools such as Edge and Muse. Adobe is on record saying they’re considering other purchase options for these products… But you’re right we should know a bit more when CS6.5 and CS7 come out.

      Regarding the optionality of upgrading. It’s true that with with Adobe’s new upgrade policy you’ll have to upgrade your perpetual licenses at least once every couple years to retain future discount eligibility. But with your Autodesk upgrade plan it probably works the same – you couldn’t buy the 3Dmax software, skip the subscription program for years, and then show up five years later, just pay the annual subscription fee once and get fully up to date on all your software, could you? Once you stop the annual upgrades, you’re “off the track” – although just like with Adobe, you can continue using your last paid version for as long as you like.

  2. “you couldn’t buy the 3Dmax software, skip the subscription program for years, and then show up five years later, just pay the annual subscription fee once and get fully up to date on all your software, could you?”

    You’re right not 5 years, you fall off going into the fourth year.

    I’m just suggesting that Adobe “could” setup a subscription for seat owners that is just like the current “creative cloud” the only difference being that what you download you keep.

    We’ll just have to see how it all pans out.

    Joel

    Reply
    • Sure Joel. As mentioned above, Adobe has offered an upgrade subscription program for perpetual license owners in the form of the Upgrade Plan option – but from what we heard it did not have great uptake, perhaps because it requires paying upfront for two years coverage without knowing what the new features and improvements will be in the future…

      Historically, most Adobe customers seemed to prefer seeing the product upgrades come out, taking the free trials for a drive, and then making their decisions afterwards on whether/when to upgrade. And so that path remains.

  3. Comment regarding the article above:

    Yes, but when you buy Photoshop for permanent ($699 full, $199 upgrade), you have the option to use it for many years without paying more. I still know people that use CS3 and they are happy with it. They haven’t spent a dime more. That’s a lot of savings. When you go on the cloud, you are stuck with payments forever. Like paying for a car. You can turn it on or off, but you are still constantly paying.

    Also, most people don’t need or want access to all that software. Most people don’t even have the time to learn them all.

    I do respect the decision of the folks that prefer the Creative Cloud. Everyone has different needs. However, the traditional CS license is the best way to go for me. It has worked well for many many years. The Cloud is just a constant loan that never ends.

    Reply
  4. The only difference I can tell by comparison sheet between Master Collection and Adobe Cloud is Acrobat X Pro vs. Acrobat XI Pro… Seems to me, that the cloud offering far exceeds any other product offering for the price with more benefits. Am I wrong?

    Heck, for the Master Collection cost of 2600, I could purchase nearly 4.5 years of cloud services… I don’t see how that is a bad thing.

    Reply
    • Hi Troy, thanks for your comment. No, you’re not wrong – the Creative Cloud does contain all the applications in CS6 Master Collection, and currently has more up-to-date versions of them for Acrobat (as you noted), Photoshop, Illustrator, and Dreamweaver. The Cloud additionally includes Lightroom 4, Adobe Edge, Muse, and other tools and services as well.

      As far as crunching the numbers – yes, it would take over 4 years to come out behind on the full cost. Over those years, Creative Cloud members will receive all version upgrades and new features/products added in the meantime – whereas one-time purchasers would need to pay extra for each upgrade (typically averaging ~$500 per year for the Master Collection).

      The only scenario where it might work out better the previous way is if someone wanted to buy and run the same suite for many years without upgrading it. But if you prefer to stay current and on top with your tools in a world of fast-changing and ever-improving technology, then going with the Cloud is an increasingly popular option.

  5. troy :

    Heck, for the Master Collection cost of 2600, I could purchase nearly 4.5 years of cloud services… I don’t see how that is a bad thing.

    Troy,

    You’re right, it sounds like a great deal, and it might be for some, but the really big difference in your above example is after 4.5 years if you bought the Master Collection you would still have the Master Collection. If you spent your 2600 on 4.5 years of the Cloud you have nothing, nada, except for all the proprietary-format project files you created the last 4.5 years that you can’t open anymore.

    Joel

    Reply
  6. Joel is right. You are renting software. Is like making car payments forever if you want to use the software. On the other hand, if you already own one of the master suites, it cost even less to upgrade because you are not paying full retail price.

    The cloud is an illusion. It may work for people that want access to the software on a limited time basis, but not for power users. Besides, who wants to make monthly payments? That’s crazy!

    Cheers!

    Reply
    • Actually Willie, power users are moving to the Creative Cloud quite substantially… If you’re a suite user who wants the ongoing benefit of the latest and greatest tools, then the math works out in favor of the Cloud over time. Also as you mentioned, for any customers with time-defined or situational needs, it’s a no-brainer.

      You said “renting” as if it were a bad thing in and of itself… Renting is terrific if the value of what you’re getting exceeds what you’re paying for it, or if buying to own is not affordable or practical, or if you need or prefer flexibility, or if you want someone else to take care of the upgrades/upkeep for what you’re using.

      In fact, one third of people living in the United States rent their home, the place they live in every day, because that’s what works best for them (for those types of reasons)… Does that make their decisions “crazy?”

      In the case of the Creative Cloud, you’re getting full unrestricted use of nearly $10,000 of value in top software for $1-$2/day. Is that crazy? If so, then hundreds of thousands of customers are “crazy like a fox,” according to Adobe’s latest numbers.

      We’re not saying that either path is right or wrong – what we said clearly in the article is that there is no single answer for everyone, but now we have two additional options to choose from (the Creative Cloud and Single-App Subscriptions). Which is right for you is of course up to you, but it’s not a religious issue any more than renting vs. buying your house.

  7. So we have to agree to disagree. The so called “latest and greatest tools” is just a way for Adobe to force people into falling for the cloud subscription trap. Adobe wants to make it so that non-cloud subscribers get left behind, this way they have to subscribe to get updates.

    I respect other opinions on this topic, but I refuse to fall for the cloud subscription trap. It’s your job to make the cloud appealing with comments like that and I get it. The cloud makes Adobe a lot of money, but I still do not agree with you for obvious reasons.

    Reply
    • Well Willie, Adobe actually books more from the perpetual products and they’ve stated that – it’s $2600 in the bank today vs. an uncertain $49/month in its place…

      As for the rest, there are clearly pros and cons of each model and that’s what this article is about. Our “job” is to inform and educate our readers, provide balanced insight and thorough answers, and most of all help visitors find the best resources and make the right decisions for them – no more and no less.

      Here’s a hypothetical to consider: Let’s say if Adobe kept regular license costs the same but lowered the price of the full Creative Cloud to just $9.99/month permanently for the latest Master Collection, or $3.99/month for the latest Photoshop by itself, would you sign up? Our guess is that nearly everyone would – so really, it then becomes a question of price more than model.

  8. The price of the cloud model is a BIG concern. Once you convert to the cloud, you are stuck there at whatever price Adobe decides to charge in the future. The price can change at any time. My feeling is that once Adobe has most customers convert to the cloud (and I doubt that since I know a lot of people that feel the same way I do about this), they will have a monopoly on the pricing and do whatever they want. Charge whatever they want. This is why I feel we need to stay away from the cloud. It’s a trap. Some of it might make sense for some people now, but in the long run, I don’t think that will be the best choice for the consumers.

    Thanks for sharing your opinions and thoughts! I do respect your views even if we don’t agree.

    Reply
    • Wow, so really your big fear is that Adobe is going to entice everybody into the Creative Cloud and then jack up the price? In our view, that is simply not going to happen. We’ve been following Adobe for six years and watching their subscription offerings develop over half that time. The prices have only fallen. The worldwide trend generally for software prices is down. This is possible because of the elasticity of the demand curve – the lower the price, the more people sign up. Think App Stores – the incremental delivery cost is low, and the breadth is wide… It’s a recent innovation enabled by inexpensive and ubiquitous electronic delivery networks and access.

      If anything, we see the prices for Adobe’s subscriptions continuing to drop… The more customers join, the greater the cost is spread out, the prices edge down, so adoption increases further, and it’s a virtuous cycle. Total users and revenues both move higher. That’s how it’s worked up till now over the past three years (CS5 -> CS5.5 -> CS6 subscriptions), and we see no reason for it to change as Creative Cloud membership grows:

      The 10 Most Common Myths About Adobe’s Creative Cloud

    • Hi, good question. Photoshop CS6 is available as a single-app subscription but Lightroom 4 is not sold with that option – LR is only available as a perpetual product, or as part of the complete Creative Cloud…

      The reason is because Lightroom is relatively inexpensive – $149 full or $79 upgrade (from LR1/2/3) – so you could just purchase it outright and then go with a $19 Photoshop CS6 subscription if you like.

      Alternatively, Adobe currently has a deal going whereby if you buy the full LR4 together with a traditional Photoshop or CS6 suite license (full or upgrade), then you get Lightroom 4 for 30% off (or just $99).

      So really, either way there are some options – just go with whatever works better for you. Hope that helps!

  9. ProDesignTools :
    In the case of the Creative Cloud, you’re getting full unrestricted use of nearly $10,000 of value in top software for $1-$2/day. Is that crazy? If so, then hundreds of thousands of customers are “crazy like a fox,” according to Adobe’s latest numbers.

    $10,000 ? really? that’s a little over the top. everyone knows your talking $2600 if you’re buying. That’s like the suit with the $995 price tag on it that actually sells every day for $299.
    “for $1-2/day” (to be exact $1.64/day), oh yea, for the rest of your life.
    And if we are getting into euphemisms, from where I sit it’s more akin to “the fox is in the hen house.”

    It’s obvious that this thread is going to espouse the party line, and we will just have to agree to disagree. But as I see it if they keep going down this road they, i.e. Adobe, will build over time, more power/control over their customers. So the question is, 3-4 years from now, once you’re fully invested in the $1.64 a day forever or your software stops working and you’re out of a job “cloud” scenario, do you really trust Adobe to be fair? How long is it going to take for the bean counters and shareholder lobby to want to start using the big stick they have made? Unfortunately history will bear out that one of the downsides of a free market economy is that if left unchecked, power corrupts, and ultimate power corrupts absolutely. Corporate greed will win out.

    It’s no wonder that stockholders are excited about the direction Adobe is going with the “cloud.” The future is bright for any company that has a locked-in customer base whose only option is to keep paying or lose everything.

    If people want to do the cloud thing then that’s fine with me. Frankly I wouldn’t even be part of this discussion if I didn’t think that Adobe wasn’t leaving their loyal suite owner customers with the short end of the stick. in favor of this whole cloud thing. While Adobe might not be saying it publicly, I don’t know another suite owner out there that doesn’t feel like they are, by Adobe’s actions like the timely withholding from them the latest advances and technology, being nudged toward being sucked into the never-ending cloud.

    Now if they come up with a subscription for suite owners that offers the same perks/updates as the cloud, or if they come up with some kind of buyout so cloud users aren’t trapped if the decided not to continue a subscription, then that would be a different thing.

    Joel

    Reply
    • Hey Joel, if you added up the price of all the individual tools and services in the Creative Cloud it would total around $10,000 depending on your usage… The CS6 Master Collection by itself is around $8,000 broken out, and there’s much more in the Cloud, like the DPS Single Edition which by itself is $395 per iPad app published – and you get unlimited use of it within the Cloud.

      Yes, there are large price discounts when bundled into the different Suite editions as well as in the Cloud itself, but nonetheless that is the total amount when laid end-to-end, one by one.

      As for the rest of your question, you may not have been aware of this (most people aren’t, as Adobe hasn’t done the best job of explaining it):

      Why Creative Cloud Gets Exclusive Upgrades but CS6 Doesn’t

  10. OK I not going to argue your “end to end” comparison. I think everyone here is smart enough to know what things really cost and what prices people actually pay for them. If you want to call it 10K worth of stuff then go for it.

    As for the rest of your question, you may not have been aware of this (most people aren’t, as Adobe hasn’t done the best job of explaining it):

    Why Creative Cloud Gets Exclusive Upgrades but CS6 Doesn’t

    Ah yes the old “Sarbanes-Oxley” argument. It’s too bad that what was a well intended piece of legislation to curb some of the abuses of corporate America is now being used by many software companies to conveniently get out of something they didn’t like doing to start with, the ole FREE update/upgrade. Now they and say the government made me stop doing it. I really don’t think we want to branch off into a debate about corporate abuses of “Sarbanes-Oxley.” If you give a bunch of corporate lawyers long enough they are going to find a way to make it work to their advantage. But it’s a fact that if any software company really wanted to give free upgrades they could if it was worded as such in the original sales agreements. But to move back to this discussion…..

    “Sarbanes-Oxley” DOES NOT apply in the case I’m suggesting because Sarbanes-Oxley pertains to FREE upgrades. I didn’t and haven’t suggested or advocated I get anything for FREE. I am more than willing to pay for a subscription, the same amount as a yearly cloud subscription as long as I get all the same stuff at the same time AND what I get upgrades my software and I keep, it never expires or stops working if I decide to stop subscribing. In this case it’s not about Sarbanes-Oxley, it’s about Adobe making a planned and calculated effort to move everyone into this cloud business model for all the obvious financial reasons.

    Joel

    Reply
    • Joel, it’s not about Sarbanes-Oxley, and Adobe’s licensing/upgrade practices did not change when SarbOx came out. Some people may think this, but it isn’t true. Adobe has never offered free license upgrades, either before or after, for their entire 30-year history. The Creative Cloud is a new approach because it handles the payment, delivery, accounting and rules completely differently.

      But for you, it remains your choice. If you want to run the same product permanently, then buy the full perpetual license. If you want to upgrade that license to the next major release, then buy the upgrade when it comes out, just as always. If you’re talking about owning Master Collection, then the annual cost to upgrade is around US$525 – which is slightly less than the Cloud – and you’ll get to run that version indefinitely as you said you preferred.

      Creative Cloud or not, most everything else still works as it was – so all this discussion about something that hasn’t changed much isn’t taking us too far… But thanks for weighing in.

  11. OK, we’re mincing words here. tomato tomato, upgrade/update. So I might have said upgrade when I meant update. The point is that until SarbOx it wasn’t uncommon to get a dot “update” for an Abobe app that had some small new features along with bug fixes. Now, SarbOx does “prevent” them from introducing any “new” feature for “free” via “update.”

    If they wanted to there is nothing that prevents them from offering the same subscription “update or upgrade” advantages to suite owners in a model that let’s them keep what they get. The point is they don’t because they want to move customers to the cloud for the $$ and the locked in customer base. And while currently pressures on owners to switch to the cloud are self imposed by a desire to stay current, I fully expect as the cloud grows, that the pressures on the current traditional owners will be ramped up. You only have to attend a stockholders meeting to see where the management wants to take this and it’s not good for traditional owners that have invested in Adobe software.

    Since I, in effect, by purchasing, invested upfront in the company and am willing to pay the yearly subscription price on top of that, I think I’m at least as entitled to be offered the same advantages. If current owners just sit on their hands ownership will disappear and we’ll all be slaves to the cloud.

    Joel

    Reply
    • Joel, we seem to be going around in circles here. If you want to keep the software you have, then do. If you want to upgrade, then do. Adobe built the Creative Cloud to be an extremely simple alternative – an affordable, all-in-one offering that does most everything. But, if it doesn’t fit you personally for any reason, that’s fine. Your other options are single-app memberships, or the perpetual licenses which work the same as they always have. Please see our previous response on this subject.

  12. @ ProDesignTools
    agreed, enough said…

    A question about Creative Cloud access to older versions…

    I was wondering about how the cloud would work in the following situation. I’ve been an Adobe customer for over 15 years. Over that time I’ve collected quite a few 3rd-party plugins for several of the dynamic media applications (AE, PPro, and PS, AI, Indd). As we all know on occasion when there is an upgrade of an app, the API is sometimes changed in a way that “breaks” plugins from the previous version. Most of the time the 3rd party vendor will, at some point, issue an “upgrade or update” as the case maybe that fixes the problem so the plugin will work with the latest version. Also on occasion a 3rd party vendor will not update a plugin for any number of reasons in which case that plugin will only work with the app version it was designed for (you actually saw a lot of this when AE and PPro went to 64bit).

    So the bottom line here is that in these cases if you had existing projects that depended on any of those plugins then you had to go back the that version of the software to use them or access project files that depended on them. As an example, we still have a machine here in the shop running XP and CS3 that deals with some of these issues. Soooo…

    Let’s say I’m a cloud user for a few years, and at some point there is an upgrade that breaks a plugin I have – and for whatever reason the vendor doesn’t update it (they could have gone out of business, etc). Let’s say that I install a new latest greatest workstation and I go to the cloud to install the current CSx. Will I still also be able to get a functioning copy of previous releases so that I can open older projects that depend on third-party plugins that don’t work with whatever the current updated version is ??

    And I guess related … Can a cloud user keep the current version of an app installation AND install the newest version upgrade at the same time ??

    Thanks,
    Joel

    Reply
    • Thanks Joel, those are terrific questions actually and ones we can answer… We recently were in touch with Adobe directly for clarification on the ability to keep, install and use prior versions in the Cloud, as we know that not everybody always wants to be immediately on the newest release, as you said. Sometimes people also want continue to be able to access, download and run the previous version, for similar reasons.

      So you’ll find all those answers in the Updating and Upgrading Versions section of our Creative Cloud Frequently Asked Questions. Hope that helps.

  13. Joel makes some great points: I have plugins that will operate only on old (CS2) versions of Photoshop. Now Adobe doesn’t recognize my serial number for the Photoshop I purchased from Adobe in the CD form. I’m not in the market to replace all the plugins with the most current versions. I feel the consumer is losing control here!

    Reply
    • Hey there, please go check out the FAQ section linked in our last comment – then you will find out what’s going on.

      In fact, things will be improving – with the Creative Cloud you will have access to more than one release… So, there is no issue here with the Cloud as the situation will be even better than before, and it will be easier for users than the way things currently are (and have been).

      As for why old copies of CS2 were invalidated – that is an entirely separate topic that has nothing at all to do with Creative Cloud. Read here for more about what happened with CS2.

  14. Away from the arguing for a moment. I need to buy a computer and I need to know the minimum system requirements. Please read on for my dilemma. I just ordered the Creative Cloud CS6 this past Friday, February 8th, not realizing how little anyone knows about it or the hardware required for it, including computer store experts and even the Creative Cloud saleswoman I spoke with who didn’t know there was more than one kind of processor or more than one kind of video card.

    Because of a neck injury, I really would prefer a convertible PC/Tablet, but they don’t have near enough power, so on to a regular touch screen laptop or perhaps an all-in-one if I can find a powerful one with a small screen size. All I know for sure is that I need a minimum of 8GB RAM and 3Ghz. After that Windows (I assume 64-bit, and not Pro). This matches up with everything in the Creative Cloud with the exception of SpeedGrade CS6 which requires an Intel Core i7 and an NVIDIA graphics card of which several version options are given. I haven’t seen anyone speak of SpeedGrade or it’s much heavier requirements. And apparently, you’re not allowed in the Adobe Help Forums unless you’ve already downloaded and signed up, which I can’t do without a computer.

    I have people telling me those requirements only apply to buying the software and not using the Creative Cloud, not that these people have ever used Adobe. I’ve been told that you can now upgrade laptops, so I could easily add an NVIDIA graphics card, but I’m not an electronics person. What I need is easy enough to find – Intel Core i7, Windows 8, 8GB RAM, 3Ghz, even touch screen, but not so easy to find is anything with the NVIDIA graphics card, even if I take touchscreen out of the picture. Most come with an Intel graphics card. Can someone please tell me what I really need in a system, please?

    Reply
    • Hi Samantha, sorry you’re having trouble getting answers there… We’d be happy to help. First off, the Adobe Forums are open to all – anyone at all can read them, and anyone can post there (whether you own a product or not) if you have just signed up for a free Adobe ID (which only takes a minute). So feel free to take advantage of those.

      Now, regarding the Creative Cloud System Requirements… You will not find “one single set” because Adobe doesn’t provide or recommend one. When you check the official tech specs page for the Cloud, you’ll see they say, “Refer to the following pages for a complete list of requirements for each product.” – and then a long list of tools. So, the Creative Cloud includes a lot of tools and it really depends on which ones you will be running, want to run, or need to use.

      Some customers just use a handful, so don’t feel like you’ll need to meet the minimums for every last one. SpeedGrade in particular is one of the most demanding of the CS6 applications – do you really think you’ll be using it, will you be professionally color-grading video footage? (most customers won’t) So, if that’s not likely, then don’t sweat the hardware specs there.

      Your best bet is to:

      (1) Go through the CS6 product matrix and see which programs you expect to use regularly, and

      (2) Then scan the complete CS6 system requirements page to see what that software will need in terms of hardware, and

      (3) Then get or use a computer that exceeds those requirements.

      Just as an example, in the office here we just picked up a slick new Vizio Notebook with a NVIDIA GeForce graphics card and it runs everything we need terrifically… It’s a bit high-end, but it’s what we wanted and compares favorably to a Macbook Pro. But not all CS6 products even need a dedicated GPU – you’ll find that information included for each product on the require­ments page linked in step 2 above.

      Hope this helps! If that doesn’t fully answer your question, then just post back.

    • Welcome Jibi, that’s a good question. In fact, the Creative Cloud is now available in over 40 different countries – with more being added by Adobe all the time… If yours isn’t on that list yet then hopefully it will be soon. The membership rates quoted in the article are in USD (before taxes), and internationally they fluctuate with the country and currency, but are often quoted with VAT included.

  15. Customers come and go. Business volume goes up and down. My income is unpredictable. I don’t want to own any business tools I can’t make money with. Having every Adobe product ever invented (for whatever value the company places on their product) has no attraction for me because I’ll never use a third of them. Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Acrobat are my tools of choice. As Joel or Willie mentioned in an earlier comment, I’ll never use most of the products because a) they have nothing to do with my business model, and b) I’ll never live long enough to learn how to use them. Until and unless I have clients who are willing to commit their projects to me in perpetuity, I won’t be chaining myself to an obligatory monthly fee to access software through the Cloud. The Cloud doesn’t provide me with $10,000 in product value because I don’t want or need the full package of goods it provides. Something that has no usefulness to me has no value to me, no matter what dollar figure the manufacturer subjectively applies to the product.

    Reply
  16. My question is about the student edition: When I click on ‘terms of use’ on the Adobe website for the student edition it is actually in Chinese – so: Is the student edition different or limited in some way – and do I have to commit to more than one year? Does the rate immediately go up after one year?

    Jess

    Reply
  17. I’m from the UK, current owner of CS5. The US Creative Cloud monthly price is considerably lower than the UK price. I don’t know the US tax rate, but assuming it’s not more than 25%, the total cost is still significantly lower in the USA. Why is this? Can a UK citizen purchase from the US website?

    Reply
    • Hello Sue, you’re right to consider taxes when making any price comparison… Sales taxes in the U.S. can be up to 10% depending on the state, but are never included in the quoted price. The $49.99 you hear in the U.S. is before tax.

      On the other hand, sales taxes overseas like in Europe/UK are typically much higher and are almost always included in the prices you see quoted… So, it can be an apples-to-oranges comparison.

      Other specific reasons for price differentials between countries have been cited clearly by Adobe in the past… See this previous explanation if you’d like more details.

  18. I have a registered CS3 complete suite of programs which I bought and have used for several years producing several videos many of which I put on YouTube (TubaTom2). I would like to know what my cost would be to join the Creative Cloud program and have regular access to current CS6 Premiere, current CS6 After Effects programs, and what other features are available in the creative cloud service.

    Tom Beck
    retired instrumental music instructor

    Reply

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