Why I hate Adobe. Expensive Upgrades & Software that Phones Home

I’m in a quandary. I have Adobe CS3 Web Premium through work, but I don’t have my own license. I have Adobe Creative Suite (the original version) which comprised Photoshop 7, Illustrator 10, and InDesign 1, which were the first OS X native versions of each product, and I have After Effects 5 (for Windows).

Assuming I can convince Adobe I own a “CS” license, I can upgrade to Adobe CS3 Design Standard for $599, and upgrade After Effects for $299. If I want Flash and Dreamweaver that’s another $699 and $399. Total cost of upgrading: $2000. The Master Suite (licenses for absolutely everything) costs $2499.

This is (one reason) why I hate Adobe.

This is the way Adobe used to price products. If you wanted one product, it cost you $700. If you wanted most of them, it cost you $1000-$1300. If you wanted the super duper version of After Effects it cost you $2000.

If you owned Adobe Photoshop N, and wanted N+1 (or N+2) it cost you $300, but for $500 you ould get the “most of them” package, etc.

This is how I, who basically use Photoshop every day and Illustrator once a week, and the other stuff occasionally, ended up with licenses for pretty much all their software. (I have licenses for all Macromedia’s stuff too — I’m trying not to get too complex.) It makes sense too: software is free to give away once written, so it makes sense to sell bundles of “all our stuff” for a bit extra if we can get a solid chunk of change for one item.

But now Adobe has created a mind-boggling byzantine upgrade system (so complex their online tool to tell you which upgrade path to use is down for maintenance) which basically makes it almost as expensive to buy everything again as to upgrade it, even though I only really want one thing.

Here are my alternatives:
1) Upgrade Photoshop ($199). I don’t get the “extended edition” … but I’ll live. It irks me that Adobe has created two (or is it three, if you add Elements, or four if you add Lightroom?) tiers of Photoshop, but then it’s really their one indispensable product, so I wouldn’t be surprised if CS4 brings us Photoshop Elements, Photoshop LightRoom, Photoshop Professional, Photoshop Production Professional, and Photoshop Production Professional for After Effects.

I considered buying Photoline (~$90, see previous blog entry)… but I really like Photoshop, and I know it really well. Also the one thing about Photoshop that really irks me (launch time) isn’t really solved by Photoline. So saving $110 may not be worth it. Photoline upgrades are roughly $45, but it’s at version 14, so I guess it revs more often than Photoshop.

2) Get Intaglio ($89). It’s not as good as Illustrator, but it will do the job, and launches instantly without phoning home. (Illustrator 10 would often fail to launch or hang on launch because Adobe’s servers were offline.)

This is (another reason) why I hate Adobe.

Adobe recently got into some hot water over its software “phoning home” to a suspiciously named server that turned out (according to Adobe) to be some kind of left over Macromedia initiative they didn’t know about. This ignores the fact Adobe’s stuff has been phoning home for at least seven years.

3) Give up on After Effects. After Effects is great. It’s a lot cheaper and easier to use than the heavyweight tools, and does a very good job. But now there’s Shake, whatever replaces Shake, and for simple stuff there’s Final Cut Express/Pro and Motion. So … buh-bye.

4) Give up on InDesign. I never really got to love InDesign. I really did love Framemaker, but Adobe’s clever strategy of (a) never updating it, and (b) dropping Mac OS support (even though it runs on UNIX variants) forced me to give up on it (I tried using it under Classic but eeew). I don’t know much DTP these days, so Pages (flawed as it is) will serve me.

The Macromedia side of things, which I’ve ignored thus far, is much easier to deal with.

Flash — well I use it for work but I don’t need to think about it any other time. If I have to, I’ll upgrade one of my licenses. (Again, Adobe is selling multiple SWF development tools…) Oh, and I might just wait to see what happens to ActionScript, since AS3 did not become ECMAScript and is utterly incompatible with AS2 … so will there be an AS4, and will it be similar/different to AS3 or AS2. I mean, WTF?

Dreamweaver — always kind of sucked, and now there are far nicer, cheaper alternatives. (Coda!)

Director — hasn’t received a worthwhile update since 8.5 (although they did make an OS X native version and charged through the nose for it). Probably dead. That’s OK, there’s Unity.