The Other Way To Fight Software Rental

It’s been a distressing trend over the last decade, that of taking commercial software from a paid-for licence model and moving into the cloud and onto a rental model. In out line, we’ve seen this with CAD packages and notably with EAGLE PCB CAD, but it’s hit other sectors in exactly the same way. The art and design communities, in particular, are feeling the pinch from Adobe Suite going towards a rental model, and now the artist and perennial thorn in the side of anyone who seeks to own a colour, [Stuart Semple] is doing something about it. He’s launching a competing suite called provocatively, Abode, which will follow an affordable paid-for licence model. It’s a development that raises interesting questions for the open source community, so it’s definitely worth a second look from that perspective.

Taking on software rental can only be a good thing, and we hope that the new package gains a foothold for that reason. But since we’re sure that there will be open-source enthusiasts asking the question: why are the established open-source equivalents such as GIMP and Inkscape not the obvious alternatives to the Adobe suite? In there may be some uncomfortable moments of soul searching for the software libre world around usability and interfaces.

Whatever your take on open source versus paid software, it’s extremely encouraging to have somebody mount a high-profile challenge to the software rental model. We hope that Abode makes it to market and that it succeeds in making the graphics software market a little more open. Meanwhile, we’ve mentioned [Stuart Semple] before for his colour activism over the blackest of blacks, and for previously taking on Adobe over Pantone pricing.

213 thoughts on “The Other Way To Fight Software Rental

      1. I doubt that defense would stand up since the product itself is not a parody but a direct competitor.I think it’s more likely he intends to change the name and branding at the first sign of a C&D and there’ll be no case to answer. I could be wrong though, I’m not a lawyer.

        1. A legal case would certainly elevate the public’s awareness of it. Especially one that is mocking the complaintant. Also, Abode could simply capitulate at the start or when legal costs look as though they might become prohibitively expensive.
          Maybe they could just view it as alternative advertising?
          Also not a lawyer so…

        1. There was a computer shop in the University of WA district in the 80s called Mycroft Computer. Guess who made them drop that? Though in this case when you say the words “Adobe” and “Abode” there is little in common. But yes… as I’ve learned in my small business, whomever has the most money will win any legal battle.

          1. It’s an anagram but with the logo, it may be easier to make the case. And it always comes down to money, unfortunately. But the intention to fight this rental business model for apps and so on is noble and I support it 100%.

        1. And adobe is mud or a mudbrick or an abode (dwelling) made thereof. Trademarks are a minefield. Deutsche Telekom (T-Mobile, T-Online, etc.) once sued a small tea shop in Germany for using the name “T-Beutel” (teabag).

          1. 25 or so years ago I worked for a CLEC that spun off a mobile phone and ISP biz named Intelos.
            Intel had apparently wanted that name in case they ever made an OS.
            We were sued and lost, but I don’t think Intel had trademarked the name first.
            We had to rebrand to ntelos.
            Of course there is still no Intel OS.

    1. It seems that everyone is going to subscription service, I refuse to buy in to a system that is designed to vacuum money out of my pocket, save for internet service which is reasonable.

    2. Have you all forgotten about GIMP?
      GIMP has been around for many years so it is highly polished. Plus, it runs on Linux as well as Windows and Mac! I use it on my Raspberry Pi.

  1. I don’t get why software as a service on the cloud and perpetual licensing on premises can’t co-exist. If the software house prefers cloud renting the on-premises license can be very expensive, but why not offering it at all?

      1. I bought Zbrush years ago. I loved that they always gave us free updates. Maxon buys them, one update then perpetual licenses get NOTHING but pressure to subscribe. If maxon ever disables the licensing server, Ill start using a hacked copy of the last update Im legally entitled to. Ill NEVER EVER GIVE MAXON A DIME.

        There needs to be legislation that mandates that when a company is bought out, whatever their policy for existing customers was the day before the sale, is the terms those people live under UNLESS THEY CHOOSE new BETTER terms.

    1. The big software firms want to make more money and they are using brute force to get it. Not so long ago, an Adobe Reader update uninstalled perpetual licenses of Acrobat without even asking…

      1. Yes they did…and then they shutdown the activation services so that you cannot reinstall the software that you purchased with a perpetual license. It feels kind of like they stole back something I paid for. I call bullshit…..but there isn’t anything you can do about it.

    2. The SaaS vendors are too cheap to support and maintain old product versions that would inevitably exist from perpetual licenses. Forcing everyone onto cloud-based versions forces all customers to use the latest product versions, greatly simplifying their software development and testing process.

      1. I believe that is rather their product reached a certain maturity so users do not see a reason to upgrade to a newer iteration with very little added value. The only way to keep the house running is to ask old clients to pay rent.

    3. Piracy. I thought this was obvious. On prem always has a possibility of being pirated through various ways, and has long been a thorn in the side of Big Software. But cloud-based forces you to log in and prove ownership every time you use it, and you have zero control over the code. It’s just a bonus that they can charge you perpetually for life too. Win/win in the game of Money.

      1. You can still priate many of these products, they’re cracked to either communicate via a closed loop (or fake service server) like AutoKMS or utilize modified DLLs which remove license check components.

        Not a cracking expert though so who knows.

        MS products have been like this for a while and people are still clever enough to find a way around.

    4. I have (had) perpetual license to older lightroom. I compared newer offerings over and over again and with the original price I paid I could afford something like 3-6 months of the cloud stuff. So I used it until Adobe decided that they will disable activation servers and I had to reinstall OS.

      Now I have nice packaging and CD in it and option to break the law to use something I have paid full price from. Apparently the price of full license was not enough revenue for them and forcing everyone to the cloud is there just to take every last penny from everyone unable to cope without those products.

    5. The business case for renting is nothing new. From the building itself, to office furniture, just the cost of doing business. The average Joe generally doesn’t have customers to pass-along and the model doesn’t work as well.

    6. Because even if they charge a lot, they don’t want you to be able to use it ‘forever’. I manage to use software for a VERY long time. My copy of Office 2008 still works just fine, thank you very much. I don’t need a monthly subscription to Office 365. Same with Adobe. My copy of the original Creative Suite works great. They’ve added a few new features since, but they’re not worth $1000 a year. Obviously companies don’t like customers like me, they’d rather charge me as often as they can by using a subscription. This really sucks, because as computers get older, yet still useable, there won’t be software versions available for them anymore. I recently restored a half dozen vintage Mac SE computers I had in storage. I managed to scan through various hard drives and some online archives and load them up with vintage software for a great little retro computer. In 30 years, there will be ‘vintage’ computers with no useable software because it was all licensed as a service, and none of it will function anymore.
      I’m all in favor of boycotting subscription software, and only buying standalone versions. Maybe a little pushback will make a difference.

    7. Technically they can. But most often the problem is pay per license business model is weaker compared to software as a service because of (taking exact quality of provided software):
      SAAS vs PPL:
      – lower entry price
      – recurring revenue leads to higher company evaluation (investments etc)
      – faster user feedback loop (churn shows exactly of your actions go the wrong way)

      Just those 3 give the “unfair advantage” to SaaS (again same software quality) that pushes PPL model company out of business…

    1. This is a creative suite, not an office suite. Different set of products. We’re talking film editing, (raster) image editing, vector graphic design, etc.

      1. Agree, BUT Adobe products are also not all inclusive in one package. LibreOffice Draw does a nice job editing pdf files. I would gladly use Draw over Acrobat if someone would create an extension that has the symbols that Acrobat has with it’s Comment toolbar which have become the standard for engineering drawing markups.

        1. Prolly should look into scribus it imports pdf’s nicely.
          I suspect adobe will go after this as trademark infringment, as their finances are wavering. something happened late 2022 and the stock value dropped around 60% in 10 months. They’ve only recovered about 30% of that so far.

      1. Gimp has come a long way, but the UI looked like a compilation of bash scripts written by different people, in different decades. Open source graphic editing never felt professional in quality or ease of use to me.

        1. I am convinced that gimp is/was made by adobe themselves. You only need to use it once to be convinced that paying adobe whatever they are asking is more than fair. It is impossible to make something that bad on accident.

          1. “It is impossible to make something that bad on accident.”

            You’ve never worked in the computer game business, have you?

            My wife, who’s written about 300 manuals in her career, describes programmers with the attitude “we don’t need a command summary card. if you cannot remember that Ctrl-Alt-Shift 7 brings up the sonar screen, you are not smart enough to play this game”.

            I haven’t seen quite that bad, “but lord, it was bad enough.”

        1. Money. Maybe an open source program has a budget of tens, maybe a couple hundreds of thousands of dollars.
          Meanwhile, Adobe’s stuff likely works with budgets of many millions. They have the money to make something a lot more refined.
          Though in the case of Adobe Reader, i feel like *that* is the messed up one. Holy fuck, how can it be so slow.

  2. We expect new versions with new features, software rental makes sense.

    If you want to buy it once and doubt you’ll want features or support, buy it outright.

    1. Except that most of the software migrating from paid to rental doesn’t offer a choice between the two forms. For me, I refuse to pay for rental software and I either look elsewhere, go without, or make do with the older permanent version. I’ll gladly pay for an upgrade that I need or want, but rental software forces me to pay for stuff whether I need/want it or not. It’s the equivalent of paying for cable channels I never watch.

      1. As a software guy myself, who loves working on and contributing Foss, this a sad but interesting point.

        People might be OK to pay for software. Great, so first we write a Foss MVP, and people pay for it. So we now pages for the work done. Good we can keep feeding our family. So now we work on a new feature. We sell an upgrade with that feature added and everybody gets mad. “I have to pay again?”

        So that doesn’t work. What about working 6 months on more features and the sell a new version. Maybe that’ll work, but now 6months nobody was payed. And rember, we are trying to sel some Foss software.

        Renting, basically what github/patron are trying to help with, at least allows for a continues stream of income for us fossies to keep working on.

        Of course that sucks too, now I have 3000 packages installed on myachine, and all want to be rented. Even software not updated for 20 years (core utils like stuff).

        LibreOffice offering subscriptions is not a bad idea. But the. I use it like once every 3 months. Paying a 5er every month makes this a bad deal for me. But that author uses it every day.

        Paying for software is important, as it funds developers. Expecting that all these fossies work out of love for the cpde, while true, is unfair.

        Its a very difficult problem to solve, but just saying ‘I will not rent’ is also not quite right.

        1. It seems simple; sell the perpetual license, and after that, keep improving the software, and ask people to subscribe for the updates. If people don’t want to subscribe, they don’t think the updates are worth it.

          What those companies are doing, is keeping your data hostage; if you stop paying, you lose access to all your old projects. I refuse to do that.

        2. The overlooked point in the “I gotta feed my kids” argument is that there are always new people to sell perpetual licences to.

          These companies have existed for years and years on the perpetual licences model. This is about greed and nothing more. I got stung by Corel increasing their subscription cost by more than 50% recently after paying for 13 years and it was absolutely unnecessary. The cost went up overnight, but the software didn’t change to be 50% better. Capitalism.

        3. Sorry, but you don’t deserve to get paid forever for something you did last year. Software is simply a tool … just like a hammer or a 3D printer … and when I buy one I expect to be able to keep using it. If you want to get paid more money, create a new feature, or a new program, or something else I want that I don’t have. The great majority of people who work a typical stop getting paid when they stop adding value, and I can’t think of a single reason why software authors should be any different. Rental software means I keep paying for something I already bought and in most cases I’m paying for things I never asked for, don’t need, and don’t want. Give me one good reason why anyone should pay an ongoing fee to use a hammer, and then give me a coherent explanation of why you think a piece of software is inherently different.

          1. The logical result is that no author of any kind gets paid for their work.
            Imagine all the things we would not have if even 10% of books, poems, art, and software never existed.
            Odds are good that would include most houses in America (few modern houses are built to custom made plans — a majority of development constructed houses at least begin with stick plans); many textbooks and reference books (how many of us or our teachers/mentors learned to program using K&R or similar volumes?); movies and TV shows.

            As to why a hammer is different from a book, consider the marginal cost to create a second example. A second hammer created by a blacksmith takes a couple of hours of production time given source material. Winds of Winter has taken perhaps 6000 hours (so far — assuming GRRM has spent an average of 1/4 time on it).

            Is the labourer not worthy of their hire?

            Do some people create for the heck of it? Absolutely. Do large and complex systems routine get conceived, developed, constructed, maintained, and extended without those who build them getting economically compensated for their time (occasionally). In those cases, do the builders have other means of supporting their existence? You bet.

            Want to have great software without someone paying for it? Manifest Roddenberry’s trek economy or something like it.

          2. Like so many things these days, “security” is a reason, or at least an excuse. Patching vulnerabilities and keeping up with OS changes takes quite a bit of effort. This used to be rolled into the purchase price, though.

            FWIW, I still use Adobe Audition v1.5 from 2004 for occasional audio editing tasks. It’s the last version that can be re-installed without online activation. I didn’t see enough value in upgrading, then my version was too old to be upgraded, and then it went subscription-only and I stopped paying attention.

          3. Evan Robinson … “The logical result is that no author of any kind gets paid for their work.” No, that isn’t a logical result in the least. The author still gets paid when I originally buy the software. I don’t see how you ever came to that incredibly unfounded conclusion. Your own analogy to a book even proves you wrong … nobody who buys a book has to pay more money each time they read it! And the guy who wields a hammer isn’t the guy who made it … and for sure the guy who wields the hammer gets paid every time he uses it because he adds value every time he does. If a software developer can’t survive selling what he produces then he should charge more money for it, and if he can’t sell it at that price than the market tells you everything you need to know about what its real value is.

          4. Because software is updated and changed over time. Even 20+ years ago this was an issue for Adobe. I included a link to a long winded explanation in another comment so I’m not going to re-include it here. Switching to a subscription model removed a substantial tax and Wall Street liability issue for Adobe involving something called revenue recognition rules.

            I came up working on shrink wrap software including at Adobe and I instinctively go to that model mentally, but online software brings both benefits and negatives. With the benefits of easy installation, rapid bug fixes, and online updates comes the negatives of needing connectivity to download, anti piracy checks, etc.

            The business of simplified accounting for providers never comes up.

          5. Evan … but if I don’t WANT an upgrade I still have to pay for it under there rental system. If an upgrade comes out for something that I bought under a permanent license AND IF I WANT IT I’ll happily pay the upgrade price. And you can’t seriously use fixing bugs that shouldn’t have been there in the first place as a justification for an ongoing fee … that makes no sense at all. That’s like a car manufacturer charging me money to fix the transmission on a new car because he forgot to add the transmission fluid. I’m not saying that there aren’t some pluses for subscription software, but at the very least it should be an option instead of the only choice. How many people would buy subscription software that they expected to use for five years if they had to pay the total amount up front. Damn few. The ONLY justification I can think of for the subscription model that favors the user is if he/she isn’t sure how long they expect to use it and the yearly fee is significantly cheaper than the full price for a permanent version. Not surprisingly considering your Adobe background, every reason you’ve given for rental software favors the seller, not the user, and the advantages for the seller are not passed on to the user.

          6. “And you can’t seriously use fixing bugs that shouldn’t have been there in the first place as a justification for an ongoing fee … that makes no sense at all”

            Oh? When a substantial percentage of released commercial software is bug free, you can make this argument. Until then, no you can’t.

            The whole revenue recognition rule issue applies here: any revenue relative to a release must be decreased by the amount of work that is going to be done to fix bugs in the released software and only realized when the bugs are fixed. Here’s a link to a longer explanation:, but the bottom line is that releasing a shrink-wrap piece of software (whether it’s in a box or via digital delivery) makes accounting for the revenue an _enormous_ pain in the ass — in a way that brings very real legal liability to the company doing the accounting, and brings potential legal liability to any publicly traded company that makes statements about how much revenue they are getting or might be getting in the future of a specific release (think SEC investigations).

            Subscriptions eliminate all those problems. And they’re not small problems. They may be stupid problems (meaning that I think the reasoning behind the problem — which comes from tax regulations and SEC regulations about public statements concerning company accounting and revenue — is stupid) but they are real legal issues that can have significant impacts on: 1) company account statements; 2) the cost of company accounting; 3) stock prices; 4) bonus structures for everyone from the CEO down to the software engineers writing the code; 5) company liability (probably not for Adobe, which does not make software generally used in life or death situations, but for other companies including those who create programming software).

          7. “Evan … but if I don’t WANT an upgrade I still have to pay for it under their rental system. If an upgrade comes out for something that I bought under a permanent license AND IF I WANT IT I’ll happily pay the upgrade price.”

            And under what philosophical or legal argument do you insist that a company sell a program in a format they choose not to? Because insisting on a “pay me once” is doing just that.

            And under what philosophical or legal argument do you insist that a company continue to support a program in perpetuity? Because insisting on a “pay me once and let me use this program forever no matter what bugs, security issues, OS updates, or networking changes may come along” is doing just that.

            You have no requirement to install upgrades. If you use Adobe Photoshop version XXXX and don’t upgrade for 3+ years, you’ve paid less than you would have for a single original Photoshop “perpetual” license. If you want to continue using it at beyond the point where it has cost you more in monthly than the single payment (somewhere beyond four years, given the future cost of money) — and you’ve updated pretty much anything, you’re assuming unpaid support from the company.

            There may be cases where someone keeps an old computer around, with old OS, to do just that. GRRM kept a DOS laptop around for years to keep running his favorite word processor (and may still, for all I know). But that’s really different from updating your computer to a new CPU, new OS and expecting old software to work perfectly and not expose any security bugs.

            Those of you who want that are apparently a limited market.

            Adobe, at least, has decided that’s a market they don’t want to support. I don’t know their criteria for that decision. It might have included the revenue recognition rules, or piracy, or cash flow, or project/product management, or keeping employees happy by reducing crunch near major releases, or making more (or less) money on different market models. I don’t know.

            I think it’s likely that Adobe makes _less_ on some customers who use the Photography Bundle at $120/year instead of $800 for a perpetual license of Photoshop and Lightroom because those customers stop using them before the breakeven. I don’t have numbers but I do think it’s likely — because I have tried other photo bundles and abandoned them quickly.

            YMMV and I don’t want anybody (except maybe the pirates) to think I look down on them, dislike them, think they’re stupid, or anything like that for wanting a different model. I just think a different model happening is unlikely in the short term.

          8. @Evan Robinson
            > Because software is updated and changed over time.

            Really doesn’t change anything here – if I buy software as a one time payment I don’t expect to get every version update for free for the rest of time, just be able to use the software I paid for. A degree of bug fixing etc to keep the customers happy is to be expected as happy customers mean repeat customers and word of mouth recommendations getting you new customers.

            BUT if you don’t create updates with new features actually worth paying for then you are wasting money on changing and updating your software unless you can force your customers to subscription models for no good reason – a feature complete program really doesn’t require a new version with massive monthly costs to the clients to support the complete lack of real development… And in the world of the Adobe suit there really isn’t real development to be done.

            They can start working on version X with optimisations for newer hardware, perhaps by introducing native RISC/ARM/Apple Silicon code so the next version will work faster/better on those platforms for being more bare metal, or allowing more parallel ops as processor get ever more threads, making better use of larger pools of memory etc. But none of that matters to the client at all right now, 90% of them probably won’t even upgrade their machine to gain any benefit from the new code for 2, 5 maybe even 10+ years! And even if they did the old software version is just fine, but a little slower. The development costs for all this are really quite low, because frankly the company knows it doesn’t need to put in any real effort – the program is already effectively complete! So it is all just making profit from being a monopoly (or close enough to one).

          9. “And in the world of the Adobe suit there really isn’t real development to be done.
            They can start working on version X with optimisations for newer hardware, perhaps by introducing native RISC/ARM/Apple Silicon code so the next version will work faster/better on those platforms for being more bare metal, or allowing more parallel ops as processor get ever more threads, making better use of larger pools of memory etc. But none of that matters to the client at all right now, 90% of them probably won’t even upgrade their machine to gain any benefit from the new code for 2, 5 maybe even 10+ years! And even if they did the old software version is just fine, but a little slower. The development costs for all this are really quite low, because frankly the company knows it doesn’t need to put in any real effort – the program is already effectively complete! So it is all just making profit from being a monopoly (or close enough to one).”

            You have no idea.

            When I worked at Adobe 20 years ago, the full time Photoshop team was 15 or so engineers. Assuming $200K each (probably low) that’s $3 million a year in direct development costs. My guess would be that the team is now larger, not smaller, and that 15 did not include the people working on the UI components (my team at the time), Core Technology (a much larger team), testing, hardware costs, etc. I would not be shocked if Adobe spent $10 million or far more a year on Photoshop and the pieces provided by other teams that ship with it.

            Until the early 2000s, Microsoft Office was powerful enough to drive adoption of new CPUs. Then, when Office no longer maxed out one or two generations back, Intel and AMD had to look for new software to lead adoption of more powerful machines. I don’t know who all they spoke with, but I know they spoke with Adobe. Visual editing of photos, websites, page layout (particularly glyph based languages), and especially video (and video special effects) seemed like good candidates for them. Photoshop was already catering to people editing 100 megapixel images even as most consumer cameras were under 5 megapixels.

            The systemic desire for new, more powerful computers in the hands of (increasingly nonspecialized) everyday users drives the development of more feature heavy software in a lot of ways — and updating software versions is only one of them.

            I can’t speak to your experience, but my experience is that Lightroom (my primary tool) has increased dramatically in features useful to me (as a relatively traditional photographer, not a really “artsy” photographer who invents images out of a lot of parts) and in speed over the past years. In ways that make me happy to upgrade. YMMV and I don’t want to discount your experience.

            But I do doubt your understanding of the complexities of large scale software development.

            Hardware level optimizations are expensive in expertise and code complexity. Parallelizing single threaded software is expensive in expertise and especially in testing. Developing layout systems for complex glyph based languages is expensive.

            Speed improvements matter to every user. Especially the cash strapped ones working on limited hardware. Until your typical operation is near zero time, it’s easy to be cut out of flow (the most critical mental state for creatives including programmers) by having to wait.

            The addition of new features (in Lightroom/Photoshop context aware fill was big, dehazing was big, I know there’s a lot of interest in generative AI fill but I’m not there yet) costs a lot of money (see annual cost guess further up).

            And decrufting code (some of which is approaching 3 decades in age now if it hasn’t yet been re-written) is expensive.

            So I don’t accept your contention that the work being done is cheap, or unnecessary, or that the developers are somehow slacking at it.

            I don’t know what your experience of software development is, but I have a lot (although most of the professional part ended a decade ago) and I have a healthy respect for the difficulty of maintaining and upgrading millions of lines of code written in multiple languages over decades.

          10. Evan: Incredible … you keep talking about why the vendor benefits from a subscription model. OF COURSE THE VENDOR BENEFITS FROM A SUBSCRIPTION MODEL because he gets a steady income from value he generated in the past. I’d love to have had a good idea at work and keep getting paid for it for the next several years, but that’s not a productive model for any economy. And I never said that I “demanded” any vendor not use a subscription model … only that I wouldn’t buy from them if they did. You might want to check out what this article was about (also the forum comments, of course), because it’s pretty obvious that I’m not in the minority. You just go right ahead and operate on the basis of what is good for your company instead of what the customer base wants … the inevitable result will serve you right.

          11. @Evan Oh I have some idea, but the cost to tweak work that has largely been done creating a rather feature complete program, and much of this work done for decades is nothing compared to actually having to create a new program of similar scope and when you are the monopoly that can charge whatever you like and get the entire development cost of the entire program from day 1 all those decades ago to now from just one or two of the bigger corporate clients that need huge multiheaded licenses… It is cheap in the extreme on the scale Adobe works.

            And great if you are a client that actually benefits from a new version you can always go buy the new version! But most folks would still be happy enough with a version of Photoshop from the late 90’s early 2000’s era even!!! The new features are useless for most people, the program’s performance improvements are likely eclipsed by the hardware’s improvement (where the software has actually got better not bloated – which these days is actually rather more rare than it should be) – the subscription model is nothing but a ripoff abusing the bulk of the customer base for more profit. It doesn’t do anything for most clients at all but part them from their money forever. Adobe could have continued to make good profit with a new version of the program released every few years optimised for the latest hardware, even if the majority of users are skipping a few versions before upgrading.

          12. “Oh I have some idea, but the cost to tweak work that has largely been done creating a rather feature complete program, and much of this work done for decades is nothing compared to actually having to create a new program of similar scope and when you are the monopoly that can charge whatever you like and get the entire development cost of the entire program from day 1 all those decades ago to now from just one or two of the bigger corporate clients that need huge multiheaded licenses”

            1) did you know that, 20 years ago, adobe mass licensing for at least one of their products was $10 a copy? For a product that retailed for at least $450?

            2) in what world is generative AI a “tweak” of “work that has largely been done”?

            3) I assure you that working with a decades old code base that was originally built on a tool that hasn’t existed for 20 years or more bears its own problems. The decision to completely rebuild Photoshop has been made at least twice, but frightening amounts of cruft remained the last time I saw the source, which was a long time back. I doubt it’s been eliminated since.

            4) If Adobe could charge whatever they wanted, don’t you think they’d be charging more than $120 a year for two programs which originally cost $800 between them for two years before they brought out an update? There’s a give and take, a balancing of cost and value that has to go on. I think I remember Adobe floating a $20/month base for the Photography package and backpedaling off it pretty quickly, but that might have been something else. They did add a more expensive tier with more online storage, though.

        4. These days the upgrade train seems to be more about re-naming functions, changing menus and deleting features. Upgrading for upgrade sake is a POS philosophy embraced by fanboys without real jobs. I will never buy a car created by a software company that expects owners to throw away a car every 2 years because a software update breaks functionality. Just like overpriced smart phones.

        5. Part of the issue here is that a lot of the “upgrades” on software are simply bloat to many users.

          Look at all the bloat features in MS Office. Most people don’t even know 75% of the features because they just want basics. They have been brainwashed to think they need a “full featured” product and more features make a better product.

          For most they are renting/paying for features they will never use.

    2. I’m still using word 2007 on my home PC. there was absolutely no reason to upgrade, as it works fine for home use. Same with Excel.

      However, Win 10 causes some issues, as I can open a file by double clicking. It opens in 360 and want an activation code.

      The biggest issue with “rental” software is the fact that they make changes on a whim, as lets ply with where the feature now lives. Or they just decide to get ride of it, as in Eagle.

      The irony is PC never have so much memory, and in a sense we are going back to the “mainframe with multiple terminals model,” but with better graphics.

  3. I do really want to know what you could really want for art and design that Gimp/Inkscape can’t do perfectly well. Adobe’s own locked down file formats can sometimes be problematic to work on, but if you are replacing that tool suite for its crappy business practices what does that matter going forward and it is likely an issue for any other software too… But in terms of features and functionality it seems to me like there isn’t anything missing in the FOSS toolkit that Adobe suite has, and any change of tool including just going up a version number from Adobe has a learning curve.

    Maybe there are functions you really can’t do easily on the FOSS tools, if so I’d love to know what they could be. But it seems more likely this is just folks avoiding FOSS, presumably on the rather stupid but common argument “it can’t be any good if it is free” or just not knowing those FOSS tools exist or perhaps finding teacher/guide for their use.

    Also seems like the funding goals to me are really not plausible, if you want to create a new closed source tool from scratch now you are going to need lots of programmer time. Even with all the easy inspiration you can take from the open-source projects doing the same job you still have to do it all again. As you can’t, for the most part with many FOSS licenses being copy-left take the open source code and do anything to it without open sourcing those changes. Maybe you can use the open library unchanged under your work and effectively be creating just a custom UI that cheaply, but at that point why bother…

    1. I’m a big fan of Inksape so don’t see this as me hating on them.

      Inkscape has problems with CMYK support which are very important to printing. While they do have a support for CMYK within vectors it isn’t smooth or complete. I don’t even think SVG as a standard includes CMYK since it’s meant for the web. Add to that exporting to PDF is severely broken. I think Martin Owens who does Inkscape development said it could be a few years worth of effort to get that fixed, but with coding it’s hard to give estimates.

      I just want to give a shout out to all the developers working on version three and I’m looking forward to that coming out. Should see some cool new features.

    2. Most of the complaints I hear about GIMP center on the UI being confusing so if they somehow legally wrapped gimp with a nice UI. I’m sure people would be interested.

      1. Maybe that is it then.
        But Gimp seems as intuitive as it can be for the simple stuff to me and the complex tasks are always going to be look at a tutorial, read the manual type stuff the first time you use it on any program. So sure it is annoying to suddenly have to learn how to use a new tool, or to drive on the other side of the road and perhaps have a manual gearbox when everything still looks and feels otherwise rather similar to how you learned. But if you want to leave Adobe you are going to have to learn the differences in the new tool no matter what, in the same way if you want to keep driving after moving abroad you have to learn their traffic laws…

        1. What you have is a clash between people who are used to picking up a pen and drawing with it, or taking a photograph and going “Hmm.. I want this to look cooler… I’ll put a gel film on”, and people who are programmers who think they understand the other guys without ever actually asking them, without ever attempting to understand their workflows or their terminologies, standards, or needs.

          GIMP is a “Me too!” program that nominally has everything, because they’ve copied the superficial appearance and function of other programs, but they’ve only competed the feature at 80-90% and then called it good enough. It’s a program which doesn’t really work for anyone except people who don’t really know or do enough to demand anything else, who area happy that they can do one thing with it after reading an extensive online manual.

          Using GIMP and listening to the community around it is like a flashback to Linux users, who claimed that every computer user should be happy that you get a web browser and stereo sound out from your computer. “Works for me! Year of Linux of the desktop 2009!” – while other people were getting hardware accelerated youtube videos and playing games…

      2. That’s just the standard “it isn’t exactly the same as the tool I was trained on and I can’t be bothered figuring it out but that’s a me problem so I’m going to willfully ignore that and claim it’s the tools fault” whine that happens with every competing tool in domains with complex workflows. Same thing happens in the EDA arena, which you’ll have seen if you’ve read literally any HaD comment section for an article about EAGLE or KiCad.

        1. I find that there’s more consistent logic in how menus and tools work in the Adobe suite (which I don’t use any more) than in GIMP or Inkscape. Once you figure that out finding the next tool you need is easier.

          1. I find the menus in GIMP more reasonable. That’s probably because I’ve been using it since the 1990s, though. I never used a pirated copy of Photoshop like so many people did back then.

            On the rare occassions when I do get to use Photoshop, I get frustrated and return to GIMP.

      3. A dev would be stupid not to take advantage of a well established project like Gimp. And yeah, you can totally smear lipstick on the pig and call it your own and charge money for it (you just need to offer free access to the original pig). This is exactly what Apple OSX has done with Darwin Linux.

      4. Yeah… This is my problem with gimp. The interface is a disaster. Why is everything in a separate window? Why are the toolbars separate windows? Why is everything so feature dense it’s hard to work out where everything is if you haven’t used it in a while?

        Menus are good, locked in toolbars are good, having my work in the center of one unified window is good. Gimp may be able handle just about everything Photoshop can, but the workflow is significantly less efficient solely because the UI is a disaster.

        I would rather suffer through a session in mspaint than have work through gimps interface. Gimp actively makes people want break the law to pirate Photoshop just to avoid using gimp. The dev needs to skip an entire feature version and work solely on modernizing and streamlining the user interface.

        1. Personally I love that it can be (but doesn’t have to be) toolbars in separate windows – means the old wacom screen on the Toughbook I’m doodling on can be the entire image window with all the toolbars still visible somewhere so you know you are on the correct tool/layer etc (assuming you have a second screen). But you can lock them all to the main window if you want, or just lock the tools you actually use – with Gimp it is easy enough to make it your own so all the tools you actually want are set up as you want them to be…

        2. I am happy with being able to park multiple toolbars & menus on a separate monitor while working on full screen images on other monitors, GIMP works well for my purposes daily at work.

      5. The UI is just the tip of the iceberg. Most people just can’t get past how crappy it is.

        Beyond the UI, there’s problems with color management, different color spaces, the way the different transforms and filters work, the entire brush engine is crap…

    3. GIMP can’t handle vector formats and Inkscape lacks the range of tools, effects and filters of GIMP. Adobe Photoshop does pretty much everything. I use GIMP, Inkscape and LibreOffice Draw. It would be nice to replace three apps with one.

    4. I used GIMP all the time and love it, and I almost never feel like there’s something I need to it do that it can’t (or if I do, Photoshop usually can’t do it either – like working with RAW images, and GIMP can interoperate with other FOSS apps to add that functionality).
      Inkscape on the other hand, I still use all the time, but Illustrator is a lot more usable (and stable). Not enough to make me pay for it, though.
      But I’ve never found an adequate FOSS substitute for InDesign. Not a problem for me, since I don’t need it for work, but I feel for those who do and are stuck in Adobe’s money-sucking tractor beam.

      1. Inkscape can stand in for InDesign on documents a few pages long but it’s more cumbersome. I believe scribus is the alternative for proper desktop publishing but it lacks the niceties of WYSIWYG and drag and drop.

    5. Gimp had such a bad UX. I use it when I have to but GIMP has straight up caused me to pay Adobe twice this year to finish a project because it’s design choices are so convoluted

    6. Surprised this hasn’t been mentioned yet–
      With GIMP, the big drawback is the lack of nondestructive editing. GIMP is slowly getting better, but Photoshop allows you to do pretty much entirely “declarative” editing where you never actually change a single pixel of the original image. This is extremely important for big projects, where you don’t want to be re-doing the whole thing because you made a small mistake at the very beginning.

      Photoshop is basically the only reason I still keep a Windows VM around. I oh-so-desperately want to switch to GIMP, as soon as it’s ready.

    7. One of the biggest issues in FOSS that I have noticed is the general trend of bad UI/UX design. As a software developer, I can tell you that most software developers are not really good designers, including me. UI/UX design is a different and unique skillset that a lot of programmers don’t possess. I’ve worked at plenty of companies that also don’t seem to understand the importance of having someone with that skillset working on the team. However, if you can get a good designer working on your team, you can make some beautiful, easy to use software. I don’t know why we don’t see more designers working on FOSS software, but if we could get more designers involved, then I think the bad UI/UX design trend could be dealt with.

      1. > you can make some beautiful, easy to use software.

        Only one part of that is actually in any way important, making it pretty really doesn’t matter at all – it is a tool, as long as the tool does its job well it doesn’t have to be a gold plated and diamond encrusted bling machine or subtlety inlayed/engraved/etched. Whichever meets your tastes, which is another reason why pretty is a stupid thing to chase, as for everyone that notices/likes it there will be those that don’t.

        In software terms about as often as winning the lottery making something ‘prettier’ is good for making it easy to use, it does happen but most of the time making it beautiful actively makes it worse to use, or does nothing at all for ease of use but consumes heaps of CPU cycle for that pointless fluff…

        I’d also not bash the FOSS developers UI/UX design much, in most FOSS projects the layout is very sane, logical and usually better at respecting the OS’s GUI styling options than closed source. I’m sure there will be examples where its terrible, but usually it is complained about simply because it is different – which is the exact same complaint a Solidworks user gives Autodesk products etc – different doesn’t have to mean bad!

        1. Expecting engineers to also be UX designers is just as reasonable as expecting football players to be musicians — it’s gonna happen now and then, but you can’t really count on it, and the time and effort expended on one discipline is unlikely to benefit the other discipline, making it harder to learn and advance.

  4. $64k (or even $182k) to develop a suite of 4 professional level applications in a year? No chance.

    There are certainly problems with GIMP and Inkscape that remain to be solved, but at least they are both real, actual applications we can use today and forever, not a kickstarter scam.

    1. Yes, I’m curious to see exactly how much of this is going to be an art stunt and how much of it will actually a usable tool. Honestly I’m ok with either; Stuart fights the good fight.

      One thing it won’t be is a scam, but I can accept the line isn’t well defined – someone not understanding Stuart’s background and just looking for a way out of the Adobe jail might get misled, but I don’t think it’s deliberate.

    1. You bet, but we need I think to find and innovate more ways to provide funding & material support to real open source development than just asking for donations. And push back against anti-UX ideology (yes, I’ve seen examples to know that to some extent at least there appears to be such a thing).

      1. Exactly. As I just wrote above too. Foss needs to be funded, other then begging for donations. Why shouldn’t a successful Foss developer able to make 75k – 200k a year. We’d feel dirty …

      2. I think something like GNUtaler might improve things. If I could throw projects I like a couple of bucks with the assurance that the transaction is finished at that point and without leaving a log in some blockchain I’d be much more inclined to do so. Buskers and beggars can make pretty good money in the right area.

  5. “… why are the established open-source equivalents such as GIMP and Inkscape not the obvious alternatives to the Adobe suite? In there may be some uncomfortable moments of soul searching for the software libre world around usability and interfaces”.

    As someone who uses Linux and hasn’t used Windows for about 15 years (except for Win2K in a VM occasionally), I hear what you’re saying. I think the difficulty here is partly the 80/20 rule. In this case having a functional product with most of the necessary features gets you 80% of the way in 20% of the time, where the final 20% of work – the missing features and an intuitive, consistent, well-integrated UI – takes much more effort.

    I wonder that we don’t see more Open Source software development being crowdfunded. I’ve used both Inkscape and GIMP; neither of them is terribly intuitive, and I’ve never succeeded in getting print-service-ready CMYK out of the pair, even though it’s allegedly possible with additional programs and additional hoop-jumping.

    I wonder if Inkscape and GIMP developers could get together and raise crowdfunding money for integrating the two products, adding things like seamless CMYK-to-print capability, and making the UI more intuitive. I think that without something like crowdfunding, most Open Source programs can’t achieve parity with with the proprietary products. I’m also left wondering what KiCad’s secret is…

    1. Yes; crowdfunding is the way, it’s unfortunate the creator of that Abode program is not aiming for open source but likely going to keep it entirely under the century-plus proprietary route (which is beyond absurd; I mean ultimately if we want a real radical social transformation, IP laws will have to die altogether along with the lay-down of a fundamentally new economy, and the question is if/when that comes to happen and he’s around for it, what side will he choose?). But it is a big blind spot, I think, not paying more attention to devising how we could/should fund open source coding projects generally with an aim to promote increased quality and unfortunately I’ve also seen some real ideological closedness toward that things like UX should even be cared about at all.

      1. I like the way you think. Especially when you talk about ‘a fundamentally new economy’. My sig on another forum is ” ‘The Economy’ is a giant Ponzi scheme whose most pitiable suckers are the youngest among us and the yet-unborn “. We should form a club!

        Regarding the UX, IMO that’s a big problem even in the proprietary software world, but it seems even worse in FOSS. A lot of developers seem not to understand the ‘form follows function’ edict; they put their own esthetic sense above usability, and they seem fond of change for change’s sake. Tried-and-true UI approaches get broken all the time by devs who can’t resist tweaking or outright re-modelling them. At the same time, problems that users have complained about for years remain unchanged.

        1. Andreu Herasimchuk (Adobe’s head of UI design and consistency) and I did not see eye to eye on all things but the usability and consistency of Adobe UI was, IMO, a huge triumph for him.

        2. How would you all feel about a donation-driven system of bug and feature bounties? You’d document a bug, put down 5 bucks, two hundred other people would agree they’ve had trouble with that and put down a dollar as well, a different guy goes into the source, fixes it for himself, posts a video showcasing his fix’s functionality (or a binary if that’s acceptable to the open source community, I imagine probably not), and his source code gets traded for the donations when enough votes automatically declare that the community seems satisfied? (Of course, this doesn’t take into account how AI code generation is going to change everything.)

  6. I’m stuck paying a whole lot every year for Parametric Technology’s Creo with its manufacturing package. The gizmos I make require CNC Milling and I haven’t found anything else which is free and does what Creo does, at least anywhere near as quickly.

    I use OnShape for additive design. It is free for me because I don’t mind having my work accessible to the rest of The OnShape community. If they can figure out what the parts are, more power to them.

    And even though Creo also does additive, OnShape is quicker for me. I do these projects for my own amazement, not money. I also use Eagle for the boards. love it’s router function which always gives me an intelligent head start but can always be improved with some editing. I hope KiCAD turns out to be as comfortable.
    Except for Creo which must run on Windows, I do everything else in linux either ubuntu or debian depending… So it’s GIMP, a little bit of FreeCAD although I use AutoCAD mostly (been using it since 1983), and the LibreOffice things which I find excellent as is Gimp.
    I have an application which only runs on a SPARCstation 10, I can’t afford a current version so I keep the SPARC10 running for the 2 or 3 times a year when I need it.

    But owning isn’t necessarily the answer. You’re not owning anyway, you’re sort of using it with the real owner’s blessing.

    It can be really challenging, if it’s something like architectural CAD and you don’t want to pay for the annual support/upgrades. I can do what I need to do with AutoCAD-Lite (1990) which will run on a VirtualBox Widows XP, but friend who has a dedicated architectural applciation which when he “bought” it ran on a Motorola powered Apple, is stuck with this old machine. If he wants a newer machine, he has to buy the whole application again. And then there’s the extortionate scheme where you want to upgrade maybe every 3 or 4 years, but they won’t do it unless you pay for all the upgrades in between.


    I’m glad I’m retired. You ought to try it sometime.

    1. If you still use an old AutoCAD-Lite you should give LibreCAD a go. It’s 2D only, but as someone who was trained on AutoCAD sometime around 2000 I instantly felt right at home.

  7. He’d be better off backing the open-source projects than re-inventing the wheel. Gimp is already pretty close to Photoshop with its tools, and although a bit clunky in places, Inkscape is a good alternative to Illustrator. They have learning curves of their own especially for those who are used to the industry standard, but putting the money into getting UX designers to tweak the interfaces for those tools and you’d have a winner.
    And besides, as someone else said.. that logo and name look WAY too close to the clay company’s and the lawyers are circling…. cease and desist in three… two… one…

  8. The “rental model” that keeps talking heads and MBA grads busy masks the actual problem – software works just fine for a decade or more after you purchase it and there’s no revenue stream to pacify stockholders, er, um, I mean “support new development”. Given that most of the world uses Windows for everyday use (sorry Linux buffs/Apple fans), and that carries forward for a very long time as well there isn’t even the “no driver” game to play as Canon did with the move to W/10 to force purchase of new scanners.

    Why does this matter? The software (that is working just fine) also usually sets the pace in its market. People have fought its peculiarities to a standstill and absorbed the command/menu structure and have gotten on with the job at hand. Know where everything you actually use in PhotoShop is? Of course you’re not going to spend weeks and handfuls of torn hair on GIMP – you have work to do. Have a manuscript in .pdf in the US, and you have to fight a two sided battle with a publisher in the UK and the printers in India? Of course you’re not going to give up your ability to fudge in corrections at the last minute (or so I hear) – you have work to do. To their credit, Autodesk actually surfs this idea by getting people into their ecosystem early and cheaply (Tinkercad and various education versions of AutoCad). This pays off in a symbiotic way in that the students can claim familiarity, the operations that buy copies for commercial use are happy to not spend time training them and so it goes.

    The pendulum continues to swing. Basic word processing was astoundingly expensive (the price of a used car, per copy, per machine) until PC-Write (and a few others) took over the student /fanfic warrens. Once the market was proven, the subsequent products may have not been free, but they were orders of magnitude less expensive, and other shareware/cheapware/data-scraping economic models followed. Word succeeded by modest pricing and sheer force of scale. Specialized functions can be had online (Tinkercad, various online photo editors), often ad-supported and continue to influence the market.

    It wraps around – if Abode succeeds in providing a product that busy people can use without painful transition, they still must pay the rent. If they do it well enough, they might set the pace themselves, or they’ll go under for lack of a continuing income stream.

    1. Most complex software does not work “just fine” for a decade without upgrades unless you choose to forego OS upgrades and accept the security problems that come with doing that. Mere mortal users aren’t prepared to manage that.

      Much FOSS software lacks interfaces normal non-geeky people are willing to learn and use, not to mention the support infrastructure Adobe and Microsoft software has (books, blogs, online classes, free or pay IRL classes, etc.).

      1. Given businesses are facing liability for not keeping software updated, I suspect regular home users will soon face this also, either directly or via better automated update mechanisms for security issues. Apple recently rolled out an option to allow automatic security updates; I suspect sooner or later they and other OS and app store distributors will be required to make that mandatory.

        1. I’m ambivalent about forced upgrades. A significant number of updates have problems, sometimes serious (I recall a Premiere upgrade which was capable of erasing drives). I don’t routinely upgrade until I’ve checked the reviews.

          But again, mere mortals probably aren’t going to manage that process. For them, auto upgrades probably make sense.

          At least until some malign actor figures out how to hijack the process to insert their own malware….

  9. I am glad I don’t have much skin in this game. When I need to do a simple part or a drawing for the laser cutter, FreeCad works great. KiCad for electronics stuff. InkScape for the occasional drawing. Gimp I hardly ever use but there if needed. Gwenview handles the need for resizing, cropping photos. All simple stuff. LibreOffice handles all docs/spreadsheets/presentations. And for programming, c/c++, fortran, cobol, Python, Pascal, Assembly, etc. all present and accounted for. Firefox handles the browsing, Thunderbird the email. The list goes on and on and on … all available in Linux Land ‘locally’… That is the point. I want everything to be installed locally. If I buy it. I should be able to use it for-ever until ‘I’ feel the need to upgrade. No subscriptions (like paying for your internet access) or cloud access need apply. And it isn’t all about free software either. I would gladly buy a copy (download) of Print Shop for Linux if it was available. I am not against paying for software if needed… just not every month….

  10. I remember back in the day when you had to type in programs from magazine like Compute.
    The disk was available for a small fee.
    I like playing Star Trek online. When it went Windows 10 or above only, I had to upgrade from Windows 7.
    You can purchase the software on a medium such as a DVD or flash drive and have something physical to install, or you can download it from the manufacturer’s website. The advantage of the latter is, you don’t have to remember where you put the install media when you may have to reinstall due to a virus or whatnot.
    Once you had the software along with it’s license key, there was no more revenue stream for the manufacturer. Back in the Windows 95/98 days, you could “borrow” a friend’s copy and their key and be good to go. I don’t remember if it started with Windows XP or 7, but Microsoft went to key verification where you could install the software and run it, but you would have to purchase a key before the software would limit itself or stop working entirely. This resulted in more revenue as you couldn’t use the same key on multiple computers. Again, once the software and keys, were sold, no more revenue stream for the manufacturer.
    Moving to the cloud may save on media manufacturing costs, but again, once the software and keys were sold, the manufacturer has to maintain a site for their software to be downloaded. Again, no revenue stream, and now the added cost of running a site (computer, electricity etc.) or paying monthly for a site online.
    So the question became, how can I use my software to continue to produce an income?
    Manufacturing media and selling it and license keys results in eventually no income.
    Moving to a website where users can pay for a key and download the software results in eventually no income. SaaS is the next logical step. It produces a monthly, quarterly, semi-annual or annual income stream, and it helps the manufacturer with either media production costs or online services.
    If the fee is reasonable, I see no reason why the model can’t work effectively. It’s not like a magazine subscription where you get a new issue each month, but it appears SaaS is what the industry is moving towards.

  11. Affinity Photo/Designer/Publisher by Serif are a great low-cost alternative you can actually buy instead of rent. They’re not suitable for pros that need to collaborate using Adobe files (there’s really no other choice for this), but it’s powerful software that can give impressive results. I was never able to put together a GIMP/Inkscape workflow, but Affinity was a great fit.

    Not a shill, just a satisfied customer.

    1. Agree 100%. Have never used Affinity but work with others who have. Several things in this kickstarter, not least of which the blatant branding knockoff, suggest to me the creator is naive about the complexity of software development like these. Why reinvent the wheel!? Just use Affinity, something that already has some years of development and an actual company behind it.

  12. It’s pure greed people were happy sitting on 4 year old copies of Photoshop happy with the product. Meanwhile the MBA people were trying to figure out how to squeeze more revenue. Voila subscription only.

  13. Alternative – Adobe Photoshop Essentials has a permanent license for < $100 US.

    My advice has long been – if you don't know why full-zoot Photoshop is better than Essentials, you will be happy with Essentials.

  14. A creator friend claims he is constantly battling Adobe for control of his perpetual license of an older version of the suite. Mysteriously his software looses its activation status and he has to claw thru adobe tech support on a monthly or less basis to get it all running again.

  15. I just don’t like the rental model, period. For software, cars, tools, etc etc. ie in the old days I had to rent a bottle of mig gas, which was finally replaced with being able to buy one and get it refilled. Much cheaper for the occasional use of my welder!

    It’s exactly the same for software – you don’t want to pay rental for something you don’t use all the time – and even if you DO use it all the time you don’t want to make things that you can only access in that program, as one day you may not be using it so much.

    The only things the rental model is good for are things you are going to use for a specific job over a short time. ie rent a car for two weeks on a holiday, or rent an expensive tool for a job for a day, etc etc..

    I plan to never rent software, period.

  16. I constantly hear people complaining about Creative Cloud (specifically in Photography) being a subscription (ongoing) instead of a single purchase. Since we’re talking about Photoshop and Lightroom as the Photography subscription, it costs $10/month or $120/year and you get 4 updates annually.

    I was at Adobe in the early 2000s when discussions about a subscription service happened (at much higher prices) and a significant driver of the conversation was revenue recognition rules. If you really want my recollections, they’re here:

    But I like the subscription model, and I’ll tell you why: because I would rather pay $120 annually instead of $800 every two years in order to keep current. Yes, Photoshop would cost you about $650 for a new version and Lightroom would cost about $150. And in the meantime, my new camera is supported within 3 months of release, and new features and bug releases come out quickly. From a software development viewpoint, Adobe doesn’t have a huge release party every two years that takes six months out of their working time: they can develop on a feature basis instead. I’m sure they have their moments of panic getting ready to ship, but I’m also sure they’re better than the ones we had in the before times.

    And as someone who made his living for decades by selling software, I have some sympathy for the anti theft benefits of subscription software.

    I hear the concern about ongoing payment instead of single payment for the rest of your life but I don’t find it a useful argument. It takes 3+ years of subscription before you have any possibility of losing money compared to buying shrink wrap versions of Lightroom and Photoshop, and that doesn’t take into account the future value of money or the benefit of bug fixes or inflation over the last 20 years.

    I’m wondering if anyone thinks Adobe’s software isn’t worth what it costs? And if so, why do you pay for it?

    1. 1st thing is that the fees for subscription never stay in that range of near what you would pay upgrading every new release. The costs keep going up. This also kills all hobby usage or intermittent usage of a program. If I am going to use autodesks civil3d once a month, I can pay the exorbitant fees for it, or I can’t use it. And there is no real alternative out there. I use Microstation in my new job and man it is not even close and that even is a subscription

      1. Can’t comment on the general trend but specifically not true in the case of the Adobe Photography package: $120 annually vs. $800 biannually (there’s only one three year gap in Photoshop release history — all others are two years or less).

        Plenty of people and companies upgraded Photoshop with every shrink wrap release. The current subscription package is cheaper (ignoring inflation, future value cost, opportunity cost) than buying a new Photoshop and Lightroom every 6 years or three major versions.

        Subscriptions that allow monthly payment (many but I’m sure not all) enable intermittent or testing usage, not disallow it. Hobby usage would depend upon your definition.

        Overall cost of software is a different conversation, but if you need a piece of software once a month you either do without, pay for it, pirate it, or go in with a friend (possibly stretching the license but fuck that). If there’s a free alternative that sucks, well, you need to decide whether your time and sanity are worth the price of the better software.

    2. I would like to be able to subscribe to software while I start learning how to use it, and figuring out whether it will be something I want to get serious about. Or perhaps infrequent amateur usage. This is good for everyone; people get access to good tools without a huge upfront investment, and can build familiarity on their own schedule to eventually become active high paying users of the software.

      After that software becomes a core, critical part of my creative process and/or career, a switch flips in my brain. I am now standing on a rope bridge across a bottomless pit, and I can see accountants sharpening their knives on both cliffs. If I fall on hard financial times, I may not be able to continue paying, and will also lose the very tool I could use to earn my way out. If the software vendor decides the program isn’t worth maintaining anymore, then I could also lose access to my tools through no fault of my own.

      The subscription model works not through continual payment for added features, but through denial of service. You are paying the software vendor a fee to put a remote kill-switch in your software, which they can use to make something you depend upon stop working. This is different from providing a utility, like electrical power or web hosting. This is a remote kill-switch that disables software running on your own computer that would otherwise happily remain functional at no ongoing cost to the software vendor.

      That is an acceptable tradeoff when the software in question is not critical to my success. Once the software is in fact a core part of my process, I would like the option to pay a fairly large amount of money for a permanent license, with the option to purchase upgrades for OS support etc in the future. I would like to pay to have the kill-switch removed, so that if something bad happens, I have ample time to figure out what to do.

      I have paid for expensive proprietary software licenses in the past, and don’t believe all software must be free or anything like that. I just don’t like Stanley Tools having a button they can push that makes their product break in half if I don’t pay my hammer bill.

      1. Andrew sez:

        “So, you were at Adobe 20 years ago. How much are they paying you to shill for them today? I’m wondering why you still bother.”

        And there is the ad hominem attack, signifying that there are no more logical or data driven arguments to be made.

        Thanks for playing.

        Seriously, you can’t think that a money grubbing entity like Adobe, which in this group is assumed to be screwing the entire world purely for profit, since apparently there can be no benefit to Adobe in using a subscription model other than revenue which they do nothing to earn, would actually PAY me to do this?

  17. While I almost exclusivley use FOSS software at home I can also see the value in having software used professionally being produced by a well funded and focused development team with good support. As such I don’t have an objection to the idea of subscription fees, it does after all give the developers good guarntees of financial stability, though I don’t think it’s the best way.

    What I do have issue with is the possibility of being completly blocked from access to your own work if you don’t keep up payments.

    All subscription model software with proprietary file formats should be required to allow export to an open standard regardless of suscription status. Sure you may have to suscribe again to edit the file, but there should be a hard guarntee that you could always get your own work back in a meaningful way.

    Moving forward it would be great to see a world in which more mature and stable open source software got picked up by academia. Just look at how well kiCad is progressing since cern got in on it. Once up to professional standards corparate sponsorship becomes viable. If you’re going to spend hundreds possibly thousands of company hours per year using a peice of software it makes financial sense to sponsor and ensure upkeep and support for something your buisness relies on.

  18. It’s not the subscriptions people balk at, it’s the price of the subscriptions.

    See Altium Designer for a great example of where education or hobbyists are expected to pony up a significant chunk of change instead of crippling features and making it affordable for non-profits.

    If I paying a perpetual licence fee followed by a reasonable maintenance charge then that might work if the original software bought is operable without an internet connection.

    Adobes studio is actually not a bad cost, for creatives making real dough. Not so much for learners or hobbyists.

    It’s a tough nut to crack, to enable a revenue stream for most corps means aiming at 20% profit, monthly, which is only sustainable by subscriptions to maintain ongoing coding efforts whilst banking quite a few.

    Users steering dev is the way to go but someone, somewhere needs to fund or pay for dev infrastructure.

  19. Lawsuit waiting to happen. Near identical logo and their app icons are nearly identical as well. Buckle up Stuart, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride and you’re gonna have to give back all that kickstarter dough. In the meantime, some people will continue paying for adobe or some other suite, or getting them in more creative ways.

  20. I guess one of the main reasons is lack of donations to FOSS software. There are quite a lot of reasonable to good FOSS software packages, but very many of them withering or development is very slow. I think the FOSS projects that do well both have a strong leadership and enough income to put at least a few full time developers on it.

    1. GIMP is actually already a good replacement for photo editing. But Inkscape is far from ready. I tried it. If a rich guy or corporation will promote it and help funding, hire developers full time, then it might see a light of day.

      1. My girls used to do most of their illustrating in photoshop, with a bit of illustrator here and there. When their academic licenses expired, they started trying gimp and inkscape. Then they found clip studio. They bought a permanent license for $50. Then decided instead of upgrading from pro to ex…they bought a second license instead $219. Im not saying its the end all be all of software offerings. But its a pretty robust solution at a really affordable price.
        We recently picked up a pair of Qumarion digital maquettes from a auction. Now they can load character models into clippy and “doll pose” them.
        I wish I could find a way to get the dolls to work in iclone or unity but so far, NO luck.

        Just wanted to share another option for consideration since no one ever mentions clip studio and my girls seem to love it. YMMV

    1. People keep bringing up “UX and usability” of FOSS software, but where is the constructive criticism? How is GIMPs UI/UX worse than Photoshop? Talking with people who work with PS, the main argument is that “it’s not PS” – they just can’t spend hours learning something new.

        1. My issues with linux are Wayland, NVidia Graphics, and Bluetooth. And don’t forget selinux, flatpak, and snap.

          Its not just about the applications changing without providing new features. The OS changes too. That requires all of our applications to keep up. That requires someone’s time.

          Many of my computers will never see an update. Then the open source applications keep working. I don’t need to update them and learn about new unwanted features and GUI changes. I don’t have to figure out new default parameters. Or reset defaulted parameters that are “updated” to different settings. Until the HW fails.

      1. Seriously?

        Take any newb user thats used to common computer conventions and introduce them to FOSS. They flail around. Introduce them to Microsoft office or Google cloud or the basic parts of web browsing on linux which have morphed over to being essentially a MS Windows experience .. they know what to do, how to do it, and where to access the tools to get it done.

        Yea if you talk to anyone used to working on an entrenched system.. and in Adobe’s case often since early college years or even before .. and they’ll be absolutely used to the interface and be able to use it whatever its faults. Thats no good measure.

        FOSS proponents rant and post and promote about how they want to popularize the concept. ..and then for decades only do the minimal effort possible to alleviate the primary barrier that is brought up to new user adoption.. UI usability.

        1. To be fair, not all FOSS is Blender. To continue to be fair, not all commercial software is SAP or Oracle apps.

          Most software complies with UI guides from the OS it runs on.
          I don’t know of any others as horrendous as blender though, without going back to DOS.

          In the command line world…what’s a UI?

  21. I believe that there is a place for both in the software development world. Subscription software is a way for developers to not only fund further development, but also helps them fight piracy by making their full suite accessible for those who don’t want to shell out $800-1500 for the full version of a software. If I was an occasional user, $20 a month sounds a lot more appealing than $800 once, especially if I can subscribe and unsubscribe at will. It is certainly a whole lot safer and provides peace of mind that I’m not downloading some cracked version of the software that’s likely going to dump a virus on my computer.

  22. call me old fashioned, but i still use a pirated copy of Adobe Photoshop from 2003 professionally to do all the image manipulation I need to do as a web developer.

    1. Adobe tried to explain it away as ‘customer service’ but they released a universal serial for CS2 and had it posted next to the download on their site for years. So that essentially became a free version of cs2. That one is from 2006. Could always do a quick search and get a free upgrade.

  23. There is a suite of products by Serif, called Affinity Photo, Designer and Publisher which are direct competitors to Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. They are well designed, perform well and priced at around $50 per package or $100 for the whole set (lifetime license). Is the company doing well? Certainly! Is it making a dent in Adobe’s profit? Hardly…

  24. from the Kickstarter age –

    “I’ve found an amazingly passionate team of geeks, with over 90 years combined experience in software development behind them.

    They are in it for the love of the project and the community. They believe in the ethos and they want to help.”


    1. Yea unless that team is 3 people thats not really lot of ‘combined experience’, which is just another way to pretend you’ve got OG knowlege without actually hiring anyone with it.

  25. You got the nail on the head with the UI / UX matter. Have you tried the InDesign alternative, Scribus. Super powerful but let down by an interface which is clearly designed by a programmer than a design specialist. Maybe what the open source world should do when it comes to developing applications is adopt the Apple design ethos for UI and UX. things would change in the blink of an eye. Sure there are cross platform toolkits such as QT and GTK but they are not the prettiest thing in the world. Maybe the open source world should develop a set of pretty common UI elements.

      1. My main headbutt with Andrei Herasimchuk on the Adobe UI was that we had a common UI for Mac and Windows software (with very small variations) but did not match the platform standard in either case. I think there’s an element of Adobe lock-in there by making it easier to switch from Adobe on the Mac to Adobe on Windows than from Adobe to any native UI app on either platform. I still think that, philosophically, we should have matched the platform UI so that it was easy, for example, to come from Office on Mac to Adobe on Mac, and Office on Windows to Adobe on Windows instead of making people change from the platform standard. Ah well.

  26. This is a fun idea, and I absolutely love the big FU to Adobe, but the product already exists. Affinity has Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign alternatives that they’ve been fine-tuning for years which are feature-rich and professional as heck. No subscription model, seventy bucks a pop, or cheaper if you wait for a deal. So design pros who need more than Gimp or Inkscape already have somewhere to go when they get fed up with Adobe.

  27. Long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, back when Compuserve was the way to get online, l was setting up a website on a computer in our dining room which had a dial-up connection to Netcom, and I asked a Netcom tech why the Netcom email server ( had the “ix” there, and what did it mean?

    He said it stood for “Internet Explorer.”

    Nuff said.

  28. One argument that I haven’t seen yet here about subscription model is that once the legacy users are no longer being supported, you only have ONE version to support per platform. That alone should cause the subscription price to be cheaper; cheaper tech support, cheaper security issue fixes, etc. With that in mind, it becomes hard to understand why any publisher would NOT go 100% subscription.

    Want to save money for hobby and occasional users? Charge by the days used (logins, etc). Choose a usage plan, and if you use it less, some money carries over to the next month or year. If you use it more than your usage plan indicates, you get cut off sooner, and your next payment is for a usage plan that fits better.

    1. Nope.. that presupposes the upgrade cults take on it. There are plenty of people that are willing, EAGER even to buy well built software once and forego the ongoing beta process that we have been sold as the default way to acquire software.

      1. This is fundamentally an Android vs iOS argument: Android doesn’t push OS updates nearly as hard as iOS does, and that significantly affects the amount of work necessary to ship software on the two systems. The iOS ecosystem is far less heterogeneous than the Android.

          1. No. There are far more major versions of Android extant than versions of iOS: iOS 16 represents about 72% of iOS devices all by itself; the most popular version of Android is v10 is 23%; the last 3 major versions of Android (v11-v13) only get to 58%.
            And that’s without even considering the hardware variations.

          2. Hmm, no Reply option for your comment…

            Anyway, this is what you wrote:

            > The iOS ecosystem is far less heterogeneous than the Android.

            This seems to be the opposite of what you just explained, which seems to be that Android is fractured.

  29. “high profile” .. this article reads like an ad. especially in how it tries to downplay the FOSS alternatives. Lets not forget that Adobe has plenty of their own UI difficulties traditionally. BUT they’ve gotten people over that by having powerful features & an entrenched presence in education to teach people how to use their terrible interfaces. Blender Gimp and the rest have the powerful features and are only in recent years having people come up with accessible tools like video tutorials to teach commoners and pros alike.

  30. There is an even worse model currently being tried at Intuit. You can do Quickbooks Online (which is a PoS, BTW), or you can buy Quickbooks Desktop. Problem is… QBD now requires a (expensive) yearly subscription AND an internet connection (so it can check on the subscription status) or it won’t run. Now, let’s extend that model. Your next refrigerator (which you BOUGHT for $2495) now requires an internet connection and (wait for it) a subscription – or it won’t keep your food cold. You bought your dishwasher, but it won’t actually clean your dishes unless your subscription is current. Imagine… one day your car won’t start because (despite keeping it filled with gas or electrons) your subscription is expired. You bought it, but now you have to (effectively) rent the thing you bought. I don’t rent my house. I don’t rent my car. And, i don’t rent my software. Adobe lost my business when it eliminated a purchase option. I hope Abode 9TM issues aside) turns out to be awesome. I, for one, will gladly PURCHASE a copy.

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