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The End of Boxed Software?

Adobe Creative CloudRecently, Adobe broke my heart by announcing that their industry-standard Creative Suite products would forevermore reside only in the cloud. Creative Cloud, as they call it, would now be the only way to purchase the latest versions of popular software like Photoshop, Dreamweaver and InDesign. No longer will you be able to purchase boxed versions with physical CD/DVD media.

Instead, Adobe is banking (and yeah, that term seems to have a nice ring to it) that customers will purchase monthly subscriptions to continue to use these and other programs.  At the moment, you can grab a subscription to the entire Creative Cloud suite for $49.99 per month.

It also looks like Microsoft may be doing the same thing with it’s Office suite. They recently launched Office365, which has been rumored to mean the eventual end of pre-packaged versions of Office.

Both of these behemoth companies love the idea of soaking consumers for a monthly fee in exchange for use of their software. Their argument is that they will continually update the software. So, consumers will always have the latest version.

That may be true. But I have to think the fact that they’ll also get a very hefty stream of continuous revenue is their main internal reasoning for the switch.

I completely understand why Adobe, Microsoft, etc. want to move to a subscription-only model. It’s a cash cow. But is this really the best thing for consumers?

What I wish Adobe would have done is simply continue to give consumers options for both cloud-based subscriptions and traditional boxed licensing. They can entice us with bonus software and limited time pricing plans for Creative Cloud. They can tout all the great reasons for us to subscribe. They could tells us how wonderful Creative Cloud is, but still offer traditional means of purchasing for those who want to do so. Mainly, they could simply let us use their software the way we want to.

Adobe’s software is expensive. Even to upgrade from a previous version of their Creative Suite runs several hundred dollars. I believe it’s unfair to force small businesses to either pay a monthly fee or deny access to software that is frankly a necessity.

I don’t have any inherent bias against the software subscription model. I just don’t think it’s very ethical for companies with virtual monopolies to force it on consumers.