Today, Adobe announced the latest round of updates to its ubiquitous software suite, with its Creative Cloud subscription service taking centre-stage. Not only is the old Creative Suite moniker being dropped completely, but a whole slew of cloud-dependent features were introduced. While the updates will be a boon to a huge number of Adobe customers, it's going to annoy the hell out of one core Adobe demo: the pirates.
Adobe's ability to strike just the right balance between being hugely expensive and easily crackable traditionally made it easy prey for software theft. I can remember my early days of scouring Warez chatrooms on AOL, downloading Photoshop 4 and being utterly pleased with myself. Since then, there's been a low barrier to entry for for any creative adventurer looking to procure Adobe products free of charge, despite the company's attempts at instituting increasingly convoluted activation methods.
Then, last year, came Creative Cloud. At first, Creative Cloud was just a subscription service and some peripheral online perks. But this year, a host of features are being tied into the service that actually promises to make the Adobe workflow significantly more user-friendly and efficient. Not only can you store your files in the cloud and access them anywhere, but you can also store your app settings online and sync to multiple devices, publish work on the Behance network, and utilise a robust set of sharing features built into the service. And you can be sure that future Adobe updates will only expand on these connected offerings.
What this means is that the dreamy promises of the Creative Cloud are going to make the choice between pirating or buying that much harder, to the point where the odds might finally swing in Adobe's favour. This should essentially be every software-maker's goal: Make the prospect of purchase more attractive than the prospect of piracy.
But what about password-sharing? Surely this will occur in some form — whose LoveFilm, Netflix or Sky Go account are you using? — but Adobe hasn't been shy in instituting clear limitations on Creative Cloud services. You are limited to 2 machines only, and if you want to run an app on a new rig, you must deactivate one of the others first. Of course, there will be attempted cracks, loopholes, and other ways people will try to game the system. And there will be plenty of users perfectly content with a simple cracked download of Photoshop or Illustrator without the bells and whistles of Creative Cloud.
But that doesn't matter. If Adobe can cut out even a fraction of software pirates by converting them to customers, it'll more than justify the move to the cloud.