Adobe Creative Cloud

Last Updated: 01/27/2015

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 June 30, 2015, the cost is under $20/month for a named-user license and under $15/month 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 Acrobat Pro can still be purchased from GovConnection and CDW via the CU Marketplace.  Other CS6 products will no longer be availble at CLP rates after February 27, 2015.

Creative Cloud subscriptions can be purchased directly from Adobe at or through a campus VIP.  In either case, it is possible to purchase a subscription for a single app, such as PhotoShop, for about half the price of the full suite.

What is the future of the Adobe Creative Suite?

Adobe announced in 2013 that there will be no future CS versions, that is, no CS7. The CS product line will be frozen at CS6. The exception is Acrobat Pro, which will continue to be developed independently, and be available either through Creative Cloud or by separate purchase of a permanent license.

In 2015 Adobe announced that CS6 will no longer be available at CLP (discount) rates after February 27, 2015, but only at full commercial rates.  Acrobat and Captivate will be unaffected by this change.

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

In January 2015, Adobe announced that CLP rates will be discontinued on February 28, 2015, except for Acrobat and Captivate.

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, for the rest of the current year ending June 29, 2015, send your request to Bruce Fast at, specifying the kind of license, and the Speedtype to which the subscription fee should be charged.

Rates will vary slightly according to Adobe's promotional pricing, but as of January they are approximately:

  • $20/month for a named-user license, full suite
  • $10/month for a named-user license, single app
  • $14/month for a device-based license, full suite
  • $7/month for a device-based license, single app

For named-user licenses, please provide the name and email address ( of the user.

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,

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.