The Creative Cloud has gotten mixed reviews from users. Many users don’t like the idea of ‘renting’ software and feel Adobe is forcing them to pay more or gouging them. While this may or may not be true, there are other reasons for Adobe wanting to make this switch.
Software is traditionally done in big releases. You work for a year or more and deliver the final product with much fanfare. This is a feast or famine type of thing… users get all or nothing and the company bets the farm that the release is all that and a bag of potato chips. This really isn’t great for either users or the company.
In part, it’s been done this way because software had to be delivered on discs. If you’re going to release boxed software, and you release it every two or three months it’s expensive to reprint everything. Also, legally, larger companies had to recognize revenues if they released an update with new features. Delivering via the cloud/subscription does away with all that.
For users, features that some of them could use right NOW aren’t available until the big release. By going to a cloud licensing model, Adobe is able to release small features as they’re ready even if bigger features are not. This is very cool for the users that benefit from those features. The big features will probably also be better because engineering isn’t trying to come up with the ‘tentpole’ for the upcoming relase. They can focus on getting it right instead of just getting it in the release. Too often you see features that just aren’t all there yet. Photoshop is particularly bad about this, releasing features that take a release or three to actually mature (timeline, 3D, etc).
From a software developer’s perspective, being able to release continuously (more or less) has a lot of benefits. You can release features and get user feedback faster, allowing you to make those features more useful. Changing user priorities can be identified and features that fill those priorities can be bumped up the development list. For example, if something that users really want is identified a couple months before a release (and won’t make it), it doesn’t have to wait 18 months. And, as mentioned, big features don’t have to be released before they’re ready just to fit the 18 month cycle.
Ultimately software developers want you to use the product and new features. If you ask developers why they do what they do, this is the top reason. Developing software that no one wants is not fun, regardless of how much you’re being paid. If the features aren’t all that, they want to know about it and improve them as quickly as possible.
The subscription model is a huge change in the way software is developed. It’s not necessarily all good, but I think the benefits outweigh the negatives.