Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Adobe software and prices

I started buying Adobe fonts in 1990 (I was keen on fonts in those days), but took much longer to buy Adobe programs, because my software at work was provided by the company, and at home I had other software that I was happy with.

However, in 2005 I started working from home and paying for all my own stuff, and at that time I splashed out £940 for the Adobe Creative Suite, reasoning that I needed Acrobat and Photoshop for work, and those two programs would cost about as much as the whole Suite if bought separately.

Shortly afterwards, the Creative Suite 2 was released, and Adobe allowed me a free upgrade to it. (Gold star to Adobe on this point.)

I skipped Creative Suite 3, because I didn't feel a need of it, and Adobe's upgrades are expensive enough to make you stop and think.

When Creative Suite 4 was released, I decided that I still didn't need it, but that I would rather like to have the latest Photoshop, which I use for my photography hobby as well as for work. So I ordered the Photoshop CS4 upgrade, first checking with Adobe's Web site that I was eligible for the upgrade price. It said, if you have Photoshop CS2 (which I had), you are eligible.

I got my Photoshop CS4 upgrade and it refused to install. Enquiries revealed that it will install only as an upgrade to Photoshop bought as a separate product, not to Photoshop bought as part of the Creative Suite; although this is not explained at all on Adobe's Web site.

I tried to send the upgrade back to Amazon UK, from which I'd bought it. Amazon wouldn't accept it because the box had been opened. Of course the box had been opened: I had to open the box to find out that it wouldn't work.

After long and exhausting arguments with two different Adobe customer support people, Adobe eventually agreed to unlock my upgrade (by a special secret procedure) so that I could use it.

Although Adobe as a company seems to mean well in some ways, and its software is competent, I give it demerits on several grounds.

  • The software is alarmingly expensive, unless you happen to live in North America, where it's a good deal cheaper. As I don't live in North America, I naturally resent this.
  • The documentation is not as good as it should be at that price level.
  • If you have the Creative Suite but you want to upgrade only one component of it, Adobe apparently expects you to pay full price for that component, as though you had no previous version. That's crazy. When you upgrade, all you're getting for your money is the difference between the new version and the old. At full price? No thanks, I'd stick with the old version.
  • Adobe has this crazy internal policy but doesn't explain it in public. When I pointed that out, did I get any apology? No. Did I get any assurance that the Adobe Web site would be changed to give correct information? No. I was treated as though the situation was my own fault. To give Adobe support minimal credit, however, in the end it caved in and gave me what I paid for. Possibly out of exhaustion and to get rid of me.

There is a lesson here. If you're tempted to buy the Adobe Creative Suite, bear in mind that you'll be locked into upgrading the whole suite for evermore: or else you'll have to pay full price for the latest versions of any individual components. This makes the Creative Suite much less of a bargain than it looks, unless you're confident that you'll always want to upgrade multiple components of it simultaneously. The cost of a Creative Suite upgrade is not small change; check it out in advance.

So far, the only advantages of Photoshop CS4 that I've noticed, compared with Photoshop CS2, are that it seems to start up more quickly and it has a new Vibrance control, which is similar to Saturation but more subtle in effect. I'm sure there are other novelties, but they're things I don't use. So, it was apparently for these small things that I paid £184 and wore myself out arguing with Adobe support. I should have stayed with Photoshop CS2...

No comments: