Adobe Creative Cloud

Last Updated: 07/25/2014

Adobe Licensing Changes

On May 2013, Adobe announced that there would be no new versions of the Creative Suite products, as they transition toward a Creative Cloud (CC) subscription model. The change will allow for subscribers to receive automatic and continuous feature updates from Adobe, rather than new versions every year or two. For general information on this new subscription model, visit Adobe's Creative Cloud website.

Please refer to the following FAQs to understand how this change will impact CU-Boulder's campus. If your questions are not addressed by this FAQ, please contact Bruce Fast at or call 303-492-8995.

What are my licensing options for Adobe Creative Cloud?

Subscribing to the Creative Cloud can currently be done in these ways:

For personal computers -- those purchased with personal funds -- individual Creative Cloud subscriptions are available to anyone at rates of about $240-$360 per year for the full suite of Adobe products. Refer to Adobe's FAQs for more information on personal subscriptions and current promotional rates. However, faculty/staff should consider a VIP Named-User license, described below.

For institutional computers -- those purchased with university funds -- volume-discounted rates are available via the "Value Incentive Plan" (VIP) in one of two ways.

  1. A "named-user" license allows a specified user to install on an institutional computer and on the user's 2nd computer (either personal or institutional), and includes online cloud services.
  2. A "device license" covers a single computer, used by any number of users but without online cloud services.

For those who join a CU VIP subscription before 30 June 2015, the cost will be approximately $273/yr for a named-user license and $165/yr for a device license. Those who join a VIP after June 2015 may have to pay higher rates. After June 2016, all CU's VIP volume license rates will be re-evaluated in light of actual subscription numbers.

Where can I purchase Adobe applications?

Permanent licenses for some CS6 products, including Acrobat Pro, can still be purchased from GovConnection and CDW via the CU M@rketplace, as of May 2014.

It is possible to get Adobe Creative Cloud subscription for a single application, more cheaply than getting the full suite, whether purchased directly from Adobe at or through a VIP.

What is the future of the Adobe Creative Suite?

Adobe announced on 6 May 2013 that there will be no future CS versions, that is, no CS7. The CS product line will be frozen at CS6; however, computers with a permanant license installed will continue to work indefinitely.

Adobe Acrobat Pro will continue to be upgraded on its own.

Is there still a CLP (Cumulative Licensing Program)?  What products can be ordered against it?

Yes, the CLP for Boulder campus has been renewed for another term, through June 2015.

This means that permanent licenses for certain CS6 products can still be purchased at favorable CLP Level 3 rates, through GovConnection, CDW, or Insight. This includes the CS6 Suites, and the individual apps Acrobat Pro, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Captivate, Presenter, and Lightroom.

Because the new Creative Cloud is not perpetually-licensed software, it cannot be purchased against the CLP.

I had purchased maintenance for the Adobe Creative Suite.  Does that entitle me to the Creative Cloud applications?

No, maintenance for CS6 does not transition into Creative Cloud.

Can I still buy maintenance for Adobe products?

No, Adobe is discontinuing this service, except for Acrobat Pro licenses.

My department would be interested in Creative Cloud licenses through the Value Incentive Plan (VIP). How can we purchase this?

To join the campus' central VIP, and get immediate access to the Adobe Creative Cloud software suite, send your request to Bruce Fast at with (1) the Speedtype to which the subscription fee should be charged and (2) the name and email address ( of the user. The rate is $273/yr but the initial charge will be pro-rated to fit our VIP's "anniversary date" of 29 June 2015, at which time you will have the option of renewing for another year.

Alternatively, if you wish to administer a separate VIP for your department, request a quote from Insight (800.269.2523) or directly through Adobe account manager Bradley Buchanan (970.568.8738,  

Device licenses, for computers with multiple users, are projected to become available through OIT in October.

I don't want to move to the Creative Cloud yet.  How long can I keep using my Creative Suite licenses?

You can keep using your current Creative Suite software indefinitely. You can activate your Adobe software on a new computer if you first deactivate it on your old computer. New Creative Cloud apps will be backward-compatible with CS6 for at least 5 years (June 2018).

I was able to buy concurrent licenses for my Adobe products.  Can I do this with Creative Cloud?

Concurrency is still available for CS6, and only in labs or classrooms, not to individual or virtual workstations, and a software management system must be in place to meter usage. But there are no current plans to provide concurrent licensing with Creative Cloud. In particular, VIP licensing is on a per-device basis, and not concurrent.

What are some alternatives to the Adobe apps?

PDF Editor/Reader Alternatives

  • Adobe Acrobat Reader (for reading PDF files) is free.
  • Mac OS X has a simple way to print any document to a PDF file from the printer dialog box when printing from any application on the Mac.
  • For Windows there are free PDF writers that will let you print any document to a PDF file, especially CutePDF Writer,
  • Certain programs provide their own PDF-export support, especially Microsoft Office; just open the menu, select Export, and select "Create PDF/XPS Document".
  • To split and merge individual PDF pages, PDFSAM (PDF Split And Merge) is opensource freeware, for Mac and Windows and Linux: see:
  • To create PDF files from any program, digitally sign and encrypt, PDFCreator is opensource freeware (for Windows only) see:

Photoshop Alternatives

Illustrator Alternatives

InDesign Alternatives

Dreamweaver Alternatives

A web search may find other possible alternatives for Adobe apps for you.

How did Adobe licensing used to work?

Permanent licenses for Creative Suites or individual products could be purchased at volume discount (CLP) rates through e-Academy or GovConnection or Insight. Maintenance could also be purchased so that the user would be entitled to new versions of the suit/product without having to pay full price again.

How did someone used to get a license for Acrobat Pro, and how does that change in the new program?

Like last year, permanent licenses for Acrobat Pro continue to be available for purchase through GovConnection and through Insight, at CLP rates.

Note that Acrobat Pro is included in all Creative Suites and in Creative Cloud subscriptions, and doesn't have to be purchased separately.

Does this change affect other universities too?

Yes, this change to Adobe licensing is affecting all of Adobe's customers, including other Higher-Ed institutions. OIT has voiced concerns directly to Adobe about how this new licensing model will impact budgets and teaching and learning using Adobe applications.