Beyond the beta
Adobe's Creative Cloud has been in beta since the end of 2011, but only a subset of its functionality — syncing, storage (20GB) and sharing (see above) — has been available, for free, to users of Adobe's Touch Apps (for Android and iPad devices) and the desktop Creative Suite.
With the full launch of Creative Cloud, Adobe is unveiling a much bigger offering, including subscription access to all of the CS6 desktop applications, along with services such as Business Catalyst web site hosting, TypeKit fonts and the Single Edition of Adobe's Digital Publishing Suite. Further down the line, Adobe plans to add community features such as training, support and social networking.
A Creative Cloud subscription will cost £57.17 (ex. VAT) per month on a month-to-month basis, dropping to £38.11 (ex. VAT) a month if you sign up for an annual contract. Existing Creative Suite and 'point' product owners (CS3 or later) qualify for a special-offer monthly rate of £22.23 (ex. VAT) on an annual subscription if they sign up before 31 August.
Screenshot: Charles McLellan/ZDNet UK
What's in Creative Cloud
Creative Cloud includes seventeen CS6 applications, four services and a full set of Touch Apps. The desktop apps are: Acrobat X Pro, After Effects, Audition, Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Flash Pro, Flash Builder, InDesign, Illustrator, Lightroom, Photoshop Extended, Premiere Pro (with Encore), Prelude, SpeedGrade, Story, Edge and Muse. The services are: Business Catalyst, TypeKit, Digital Publishing Suite and Sync & Storage. There are six Touch Apps for Andoid and (eventually) iOS tablets: Photoshop Touch, Kuler, Ideas, Collage, Proto and Debut.
Two applications — Edge preview (for building interactive web sites) and Muse (for coding-free web development) — are currently only available either via a Creative Cloud subscription or as a standalone product.
Creative Cloud is essentially a different way of paying for software, and a quicker way of receiving feature updates (if you want them) than waiting for the next boxed release of Creative Suite, although the offering will evolve over time. It's important to note that the applications listed above are not cloud-hosted: you download them, and install and run them locally. Your licence allows you to install each application on up to two systems — Mac or PC — at any one time. You don't have to be online to run your copy of Photoshop, or whatever: so long as your subscription is up to date, you can use them in the normal way.
Whether the Creative Cloud's economics work for you will depend on how many applications you use, and how regularly, and whether you're likely to want to explore Adobe apps that are outside your 'core' set just because they're available on your subscription. Adobe software hasn't necessarily become any less expensive, but you now have a wider range of options.