After releasing some teasing public betas, notably one for Adobe Photoshop CS6, Adobe has formally announced Creative Suite 6 (CS6), a major update to its entire line of creative content applications. However, the biggest news this time isn’t new versions of Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, Premiere Pro, After Effects, and the rest (14 applications in all). Adobe is also announcing Creative Cloud, a subscription service that not only provides cloud storage for CS projects, but also enables anyone to use the applications for a monthly fee. (Adobe says CS6 and Creative Cloud will be available within 30 days.)
As with previous releases, the Creative Suite will appear in a handful of bundles containing different mixes of the applications: Design & Web Premium ($1899), Design Standard ($1299), Production Premium ($1899), and Master Collection ($2599). Individual CS applications can also be ordered separately, and upgrade pricing is available, depending on which versions of the apps you currently own.
Formerly, that would be it. If you wanted the latest version, you ponied up the cash to buy it. But Creative Cloud presents an alternative. After you sign up for a subscription, you can download any of the CS apps — and others, including Lightroom 4, Adobe Muse, and Adobe Edge — and install them on your computer. The applications check in every 30 days to make sure you have an active subscription, so you don’t need a live Internet connection just to launch an application.
Creative Cloud costs $50 per month if you sign up for a full year (so, $600), or $75 per month if you want to stick to a month-to-month subscription. (Adobe is also offering introductory pricing for the first year to registered customers of Creative Suite 3 or later for $29.99 per month; you need to enter your Adobe ID to check for eligibility. Much more information is available at Adobe’s Creative Cloud FAQ.)
Creative Cloud initially looks like a good idea for freelancers or contract employees to get access to the latest CS tools without having to shell out for the full retail price of the software.