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Thumbs up for Adobe Creative Cloud

Anyone who reads my articles regularly knows that I am not a huge fan of cloud computing and its implications. I'm even less enamoured by the idea of paying a monthly fee to use my word processor.

That said, I must admit that Adobe may have found the sweet spot. I actually like what the company is doing with its new Creative Cloud. Less cloud computing than other architectures, it's designed to fast-track people into the newest products rather than having them spend about the same amount of money to ride the Adobe rollercoaster.

Ride the Adobe rollercoaster? That’s when you buy Adobe Creative Suite 2, skip CS3, and get CS4. Or, skip CS4 also and spring for CS5. At that point, you’re faced with so many new features that you wind up behind the curve.

With Creative Cloud, for £46.88 a month, you're always up-to-date. The system was unveiled in the spring and since then, new components have been added. Everything is included in the £2,667 master collection, plus free websites and other cloud-only services including Muse, a fascinating web development tool.

As an introductory offer, anyone who has a copy of any Adobe product from CS3 or higher can get a year of these programs for £27.34 a month, although this offer finishes at the end of August.

None of this is exactly small beans, of course, but Adobe's products have never been cheap and they tend to be for professional users rather than casual users. Some people will never touch Illustrator and will only want Photoshop, so access to the master collection is a waste of money for them. Therefore, Photoshop will be available for £17.58 per month, although this deal is difficult to locate on the Adobe website.

With the Creative Cloud, Adobe thinks it can both make more money in the long run and satisfy its users. As much as I hate to admit it, I agree with the company on this.

To begin, these programs are not in the cloud. If you need to use InDesign, you must download it from the cloud and install it on your computer for good, upgrading only when a new version comes out. You run it natively and the cloud keeps a synced version of your files. You download all the components as you need them, and should not have to repeat the process except when downloading to a second machine, which is allowed for the same user.

The only difference between this code and the standalone program is that this version calls home every month to make sure you are paying your bill. You should have seen this mechanism coming once software vendors began using authentication codes.

Overall, this will make the products cheaper for serious users, and it will bring in new users who are forced to use old code because they cannot afford over two grand for the full package.

Would this convert someone who uses the budget Photoshop Elements? I doubt it, but it is quite tempting for the Photoshop-only user who might want to use programs like Lightroom, Illustrator, or the font packages.

I was recently briefed on this new package and was thoroughly impressed with the hands-on experience. As I play with some of the new components, I'll report on the most interesting. In the meantime, I have no qualms about recommending this Adobe product. It's a winner.