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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

    Hey, thanks for all the details showing the elements/costs/discounts/etc involved in the cloud plan. The license agreement was too loooong to really comprehend but my one question in this regard is: Do I still have the right to upload my video productions to YouTube or do I have to get Cloud to okay what I put there?

  2. The Cloud looks great for someone who wants the latest of ALL Adobe’s products, but for someone like myself who just updates their Design Premium every 3 or 4 years, we are now out of luck and out of pocket.

    • Well don’t forget the initial cost of CS6 Design Premium, which is close to US$2,000 – and then add in the regular perpetual upgrade costs which come out to around $400 per year…

      Do the math and figure in that Creative Cloud is always the latest version of all tools with all upgrades included, and it works out better.

      If you’d say, well I would only upgrade every 3-4 years, the traditional upgrade costs will build up whether you actually upgrade every year or not, because of Adobe’s Tiered Upgrade Pricing Policy… In other words, there really wasn’t much advantage to skipping releases because you’d pay that much more for the next one.

  3. Thank you for this helpful article. I do have one question that perhaps you can answer. Beyond the traditional academic discount Adobe offers a discounted academic license for select institutions of higher education. For example, I can buy the entire Master Collection through my university for $600 rather than the normal $999. My question is: does this discount also apply to *upgrade* pricing. In other words, you have the normal upgrade pricing as $525 but would it become ~$300 for people in my situation?

    If so, that would make it $1200 for three years which is very close to the $1000 for the Creative Cloud with the added blessing I would have software to take with me when I graduate.

  4. Here’s the rub. In the past 6 months I’ve designed and built two web sites without once opening up a software package from my Creative Suite. HTML5, CSS3, a low-cost editing program like Taco HTML Edit, and Pixelmator were all I needed. Pixelmator is currently on sale for $14, and Taco HTML Edit costs around $25. So, my investment in design tools this year will be around $40, unless, of course, I decide to upgrade to CS6, thereby increasing my software overhead by 100 percent.

    • Sure Daniel, and even Photoshop Touch on the phones and tablets runs just $5-10… But here’s the other rub – Adobe’s desktop tools are universally recognized to be the best in class, most powerful and time-saving creative tools ever invented – so what’s your time worth?

      It’s no savings if something that would take 10 minutes with Photoshop CS6 instead takes 1 hour instead with am inferior tool… That one hour of time in our office by itself would pay for over three months worth of subscription to Photoshop! The equation is self-evident, time is money.

  5. Thanks for this guide, I was trying to decide which way to go. But finally I signed up for the CC this weekend.

    I have always wanted and drooled over the Master Suite but could never manage to afford it, even with the student price. What’s in the cloud is actually even better, and importantly for me, cheaper. For one less cup of coffee at Starbucks per week I finally have what I wanted!

  6. There are a lot of jobs I wouldn’t attempt to do without an Adobe product. But there are also jobs I do that go faster in a simpler environment. Some people use Illustrator for wireframes. Some use InDesign. Some people use online tools. It’s a matter of preference, familiarity and experience. in just the same way, I don’t need to write in Word to write well and quickly. Nor would I waste my time coding background gradients when I can go to CSSmatic, select my colours and copy and paste the code. Personally, I don’t know anyone who designs web sites on a smart phone, but if they could do it efficiently with a $5-10 software investment, they’d be well ahead of the crowd. To be honest, I think your economic / hardware comparison is a little contrived and unreasonable, and presumes that anyone who uses Adobe products does so with superior efficiency. Can you imagine where web design and development would be today if Javascript, PHP, JQuery, CSS3, HTML5 MySQL, and dozens of other technologies came with the same price tag as Adobe’s product?

  7. I was against Creative Cloud as a CS6 Web & Design owner. Well…currently the only software which runs from the retail version is Bridge and others and more are from the Cloud. Man! There is so much more and with add-ons only for CC subscribers that it makes sense to be in it. For instance, Photoshop with CSS, plus new and better Dreamweaver and more.

    As a CS Suite owner I took advantage of the upgrade with first-year discount. I only wish the price didn’t change after the first year. I pay JPY3,000/month which is cheaper than Europe and probably US. I paid earlier JPY3200 only for Premiere Pro, but when I found out about being eligible for the discounted upgrade, I cancelled one software and took the whole CC, which cost me a little bit less, than I paid only for Premiere. I like Muse, and now new Reflow. I make movies in PPro, record music with Audition, and write my narration using Story Plus. Love Adobe and I might stay as long as it is affordable.

  8. Hello!!!!!!! Why are people not aware of what this means for them in the long run???? It’s funny how people see a monthly payment, but don’t realize how much they will actually spend over time… (Adobe does, that’s why they’re trying to drive customers into the cloud subscription!!!!)

    If you buy the product outright; yes, you spend more money upfront, but you keep the ability to make the decisions for yourself.


    Month to Month = $69 + tax (a month)
    *The price is subject to change at any time!

    1 year contract = $49 + tax (a month) for one year, then renegotiate…
    *The price is subject to change at contract’s end.

    Also, If you cancel before the end of the contracted year, you’ll be billed 50% of your remaining contract obligation. Aka: Cancellation fee!

    Existing customer upgrade = $29 + tax (a month) for the first year only, then it returns to whatever the yearly subscription price is at that time.
    *And yes, the price is subject to change at contract’s end.

    Again, If you cancel before the end of the contracted year you’ll be billed 50% of your remaining contract obligation. Aka: Cancellation fee!

    People, don’t drink the Kool-aid!

    • Thanks for your thoughts Cass, but there aren’t really any surprises here… Billions of people around the world have similar setups all the time with their telephones, TV, Internet, cellphones, utilities, gyms and health/sports clubs, associations, other clubs, magazines, books, newspapers, music, games, other software, websites, Netflix, Amazon, and many many other trusted services, memberships and subscriptions… Customers generally don’t freak out over those – they simply weigh the value they’re getting for the price offered and then make a decision.

      Obviously we’re all adults here and can think for ourselves, and each person makes the decision that’s right for them. Generally on this site we try to dispel FUD – and the notion of sudden or steep future price rises so that the Creative Cloud becomes unaffordable is more of a myth than anything else. Fears like that don’t stop you (hopefully) from enjoying all the long list of things just mentioned, do they?

      BTW, did you happen to notice that the Cloud is getting stellar reviews from the customers who have it, with an almost five-star rating (out of five)?

      Getting started with Creative Cloud is no charge and has a lot of benefits even for free members, so if anyone has questions or doubts then simply sign up for free and see how it goes… You get a month of everything with no obligation or form of payment required.

  9. One year contract = $600 per year
    Upgrade once every 18 months = $400 ($22.00 per month)

    When Adobe figures that one out they’ll drive the upgrade price for each new suite through the roof to make the Cloud appear more economical month to month.

  10. I can only speak for myself. I do own a Creative Suite, and I don’t need access to every single software program that Adobe produces, and early access to new features doesn’t concern me. I’m not the only one who has a Creative Suite that can be upgraded, and those who do would be better off spending $22.00 a month to own the product rather than $50.00 a month to lease it. Not everyone who owns Adobe products is generating design studio incomes. There are a lot of folks who enjoy pursuing creative projects that have no monetary value, and simply create for the joy of it. I personally do a lot of voluntary pro bono work for non profits. For non-corporate users, $50.00 per month is a punishing expense. I, myself, am a semi-retired graphic designer who no longer has a reliable year-to-year income base to support an annual $600 outlay. The bottom line, is if someone is using every single product that Adobe produces and needs access to the latest edition of every bell and whistle that emerges, the Cloud is probably a good investment. For the rest of us, it is overkill, unaffordable, and unnecessary.

    • Wow Daniel, again that is a sweeping generalization that imagines everyone thinking just like you… That is simply not the case. Every day there are count­less tweets (#CreativeCloud) and forum comments from users who are thrilled about the product; just yesterday we saw another longtime perpetual customer calling the decision to go with CCM a “no-brainer.”

      The subscriber base is growing very fast and surely you don’t think Adobe is making those numbers up… But if you don’t believe it, try reading some of the customer reviews linked in our earlier response above.

      The purpose of this article is to help readers find the option that works best for them, whether it’s CS6 perpetual or Creative Cloud or single-app memberships ($19 a month). We don’t expect anyone to proclaim to know/judge in advance which is the right choice for any individual situation.

  11. I ran a successful design agency for over 20 years, and never had a need to purchase the CS Master Collection. Using the Master Collection original purchase price of $2000 as a baseline comparison to the Cloud is a little over the top.

    • Not at all – three out of four of Adobe’s CS6 suites are in the $2000 range or higher (for the full versions)… In fact, their most popular and best-selling suite is CS6 Design & Web Premium at US$1,900. These are just simple facts.

      If you’re looking at the standalone full products instead, the math is similar: $19/month for the latest version of (say) After Effects vs. an upfront $999 for the CS6 version of that tool.

  12. @ProDesignTools

    I own a boxed CS6 Web & Design Suite, but I needed PrPro, Audition and AE. I ended up re-installing everything from Creative Cloud, because I’ve fallen in love with all they offer in there. Besides, regular updates along with many other services available only for CC Members, it’s worth it.

    According to Adobe, there will be a big surprise in May. What do you think it might be, after showing new features and sneak peeks of Flash, DW etc. Who gets this first without spending $100s or $1000s?

    The answer is: CC Members :)

  13. If I make the jump to CC (I did not want to make it before this, as I had spent money on the last upgrade) is there a way back, without costing too much? I only use the Production Premium package.

    • Hi Mike, it’s not clear exactly what you mean by that – but if you stop your membership to the Creative Cloud then you can continue or go back to using the current tools you have, if that’s what you mean… You’ll be able to open all of your newer project/data files provided they’re in (or you’ve saved them down to) formats that are compatible with your older tools or with other third-party applications.

      So you won’t have to give up the Adobe programs you already have by joining the Cloud, and can actually run them side-by-side with CC if you like.

  14. @ Mike Guckian

    I see what you mean as I was exactly at the same situation. I upgraded to a CS6 Suite last year and later thanks to advice from @ProTools I tried CC for only one app, PremierePro. However, I found that I needed more than one app, and went for CC full membership this year which offers to all existing CS owners 40% off on “upgrade” (CS6 to CS6+ in my case). I also pay less for this than I paid for only PrPro. I love it so far and I know that in case I quit I can always come back and reinstall my retail version. I hope it will never happen. Currently, all my Adobe software runs with the Cloud, even though I had many programs in my Suite. The reason to uninstall all my retail tools was more features in the same apps for CC members.

    Bear in mind that CS7 (6.5?) is around the corner. As a CC member you get everything for “free” without needing to spend $100’s on upgrade. Long post but I hope it helps.

  15. If I cancel a Cloud subscription, will all software I downloaded stop working, or will I be left with usable software at whatever level I last downloaded while an subscription was active?

  16. I own and use Adobe Production Premium CS5.5. For me to upgrade to CS6 it would cost me $375. If Adobe puts out a new version every year then to upgrade it would only cost me 750 every two years. For the first year of the cloud it would be 360 and then would jump to 600 the year after that which would cost me 960 that first two years and then jump to 1200 every two years after that. Aside from having all the applications at my hand which I don’t use or even know how to use and maybe losing out on some updates (which seems very cheap to me if Adobe is indeed doing this), I don’t truly see the cost benefit. It seems to me they would benefit by offering pricing plans based on what you already use i.e. the different suites.

    Am I missing something here.

    • Greetings Tom, because you already have a pretty recent suite is why the math isn’t working out as attractively for you as compared to someone who is coming from zero… The biggest advantage is new customers not having to put up $2000 upfront just to get in the door, and who now can have the entire latest CS Master Collection (and much more) at their disposal for $1-2 a day.

      With the next release of Creative Suite due out soon, more and more folks are opting for the Creative Cloud instead of purchasing static CS software from a year ago – so the CC is growing pretty popular and getting strong customer reviews.

      For you, if your CS5.5 continues to serve you sufficiently but you would benefit from a newer version of just a single tool (like a Photoshop CS7 for example), then one other option for you would be to consider Adobe’s Individual App Subscription for $19 a month.

  17. Do you think Adobe will still give the same upgrade price for the next version of the Creative Suite as it did before? I own CS6 Design and Web Premium, do you think the upgrade to Creative Suite 7 will be at a good price? Just wondering as I don’t want to join the cloud, as I would prefer to own my software rather than rent it.

    Thanks and looking forward to hearing from you!

  18. The way I look at it is, if I can’t make $1 a day from having the latest CS Master Suite & more, I might need to find a different line of work.

  19. I prefer to continue the upgrading I have done the last 13 years (at about $350) and get the next version of just the software I need, which is the Production Bundle. Getting stuff I don’t need doesn’t sweeten the deal for me at all.

    I also prefer to have the perpetual license where I can stop shelling out $50 bucks a month and use the software until I decided to upgrade again. If economic condition dictate cutting back, I still am able to edit. Not so with the cloud.

    But then again I dont think leasing cars is a very smart thing to do either :D

    • Thanks for your thoughts Tom. One key difference is with leasing cars, your product gets worse and depreciates every month – and new ones aren’t included in the price… With the Creative Cloud, your product gets better and more capable through regular upgrades, with more features, tools, and fellow users being added every month.

      Also, since you already have an (older) car, your math and viewpoint are likely different from someone who’s coming in with no vehicle at all.

  20. One problem with the cloud model is that once I upgrade to the next version I lose the ability to run the older version. In a prepress department I need access to all the old versions because for each job I need to use the version the client used and not all of them are on the latest one.

  21. The Adobe FAQ says:

    You are not required to install any new version of the desktop software available in your membership. You also have flexibility on when you install an upgrade, if you choose to do so. You can continue using your current version of the product for one full year after the subsequent version is released.

    This does not say that you can still run older versions after you upgrade.

    I think I did read somewhere, that the cloud versions won’t do anything to keep the non-cloud versions from running, so I’m not worried about my non-cloud versions CS1-CS6. I want someone to officially say that all future cloud versions (CS6.5, CS7, CS7.5, CS8, CS8.5, etc) will be usable as long as my cloud subscription is active. The link in your post is was the first I heard that CS6 and CS7 would be usable at the same time.

    This link seems to answer that, but it’s the first time I’d seen it, is doesn’t seem to be an official Adobe statement, and it conflicts with the Adobe’s FAQ.


    • Yeah, we thought you might say that. Not to worry Jamie – Adobe’s FAQ text that you cited is actually misphrased, we can assure you of that. There is and will be no limitation to running any previous Cloud release during your membership.

      We’ve been in touch with high levels at Adobe about this, because we’ve also seen the same answer and know it is wrong. Unfortunately, they have not changed the old text yet. But it should say this:

      “You will continue to be able to download the prior version of the product for one full year after the subsequent version is released.”

      In other words, it’s download (from Adobe’s site), not use or run.

      In any event, we are absolutely 100% certain of what we’ve told you here, which is: Adobe assures that CC members will able to run CS6 (in any form, indefinitely) together with CS7 on the same machine, as well as decide when you want to upgrade.

      And the link you cited at the bottom of your comment is all about that.

  22. I certainly hope Adobe (of which you are affiliated with) allows professionals to continue buying the perpetual licensed software. If they don’t, they are going to have a lot of very angry customers on their hands.

    • Hey Tom, welcome back. We are in touch with Adobe regularly and give input and feedback at every turn we get, but ultimately we are separate companies and work independently. And while we have strong indications on the launch timing for their next product release, we don’t yet know anything about pricing or availability.

      There’s only one clue out there that we know of. The new Photoshop Image Deblurring feature, which looks like it’s going to be part of the next release expected in May, was described publicly by Adobe’s CEO last fall as being something that may “be available through a cloud service – and only through a cloud service.”

      So whether that’s a hint, we don’t know – and obviously a lot can or may have changed since that was said in October.

  23. I have asked this before, but what do you guys think – will Adobe release a perpetual license for CS7, or will it all be Creative Cloud? Just wanted to know your opinion on this. Thanks and look forward to the 6th May!

  24. Does this mean that Adobe will make us wait a little longer to get a perpetual license or that they might not offer one?


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