Adobe Creative Suite 2 Available for Free*

TechSpotAdobe offering Creative Suite 2 for free, but they didn’t mean to

Earlier this week Adobe made a surprise move by putting its Creative Suite 2 software, as well as individual programs like Photoshop CS2 and Illustrator CS2, up for download on its website along the corresponding serial numbers. Initially it was believed the company got tired of keeping the activation servers running to support legitimate installs of ~8 year-old software and decided to give it away. But that’s only partly true.

Turns out Adobe did retire the activation servers used by CS2 back in December, but when legitimate owners of the suite started complaining that without these servers they’d be unable to reinstall their copies if needed, the company began offering versions of CS2 that didn’t need activation.

It’s the CS2 standard edition. Wikipedia says it includes Bridge, Illustrator, inDesign, Photoshop, and Version Cue. Not bad.

* Adobe says you’re supposed to have a license, so some folks’ consciences may keep them from getting a free copy.

More on the Adobe Creative Suite/Photoshop Subscription Pricing

Mike at The Online Photographer is talking about Adobe’s new subscription model and whether it’s going to be the end of the Photoshop era for him. His main concern isn’t the price so much as having the software changing constantly as new updates roll out. He wonders if that’s going to require him to continuously relearn the interface.

I think most professionals will talk about switching and how unhappy they are with the new licensing. Then they’ll keep on using Photoshop and the other Adobe apps anyway. They’ve got too much time invested learning how to use it, too many files in that format, and the need for file compatibility with colleagues and clients. In Mike’s case, learning a new version of Photoshop is still easier than learning an entirely new program. Inertia is a thing.

For people who aren’t locked into Adobe, DPReview’s 10 Photo Editing Programs That Aren’t Photoshop has some alternatives. I can vouch for two of the options.

  • For photo editing I like Adobe Lightroom better than Photoshop. There are some very technical things it can’t do, but it can do some things Photoshop can’t, and the workflow is faster and more intuitive. The price is crazy cheap for Adobe – $86 at Amazon.
  • For Photoshop on the cheap there’s Photoshop Elements. For what I do in Photoshop I haven’t noticed any major deficits for the relatively simple way that I use Photoshop. What I have noticed are small reductions in features. For instance, there aren’t as many filters and layer effects. (You can see a list of all differences here.) Price is $67 or $114 bundled with Adobe Premier Elements video editor, which is how I bought it.

If consulting turns into a full time gig at some point I’ll need the full Adobe Creative Suite 6. The Web and Design Premium Edition ($1,407) doesn’t have video editing, so I’d need the Master Collection ($2,200) so I can get Premiere and After Effects.

Expensive stuff, ain’t it? (That’s why I’m amazed by the low price of Lightroom and Elements.) If I’m taking a $200 non-credit photography class at the University of Tennessee I can get student pricing. That drops the price to $912. At that point you’d have to use the software for a year and a half before it becomes a better deal than paying $50/month for a subscription. Without the student discount it would take almost four years.

The only downside I see is that if you ever stop paying you won’t be able to access those files. Even then, if you really need to do something you could install a 30 day trial. So yeah, the subscription is looking better and better, especially since you don’t have to pay everything up front and you’re getting a newer version of the software with free updates.