Adobe Creative Cloud | Office of Information Technology

Adobe Creative Cloud

Last Updated: 06/03/2015

Adobe Licensing Changes

Permanent licenses for Adobe product suites are no longer available.  Permanent licenses are still available for Acrobat Pro, for the moment, but for other products users must subscribe to an Adobe Creative Cloud (CC) plan. The CC subscription model allows 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 to get Adobe licensing for your CU computer. 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 $20-$30 per month 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 in a classroom or lab, for multiple users but without online cloud services/storage.

Our VIP subscription rates are roughly $19 per month for a named-user license and $14 per month for a device license. For users who need only a single program, e.g., Photoshop or InDesign, a "single-app" license is available at about half the rate of a complete license.

After June 2016, VIP volume license rates may be adjusted in light of actual subscription numbers.

Where can I purchase Adobe applications?

For Acrobat Pro, permanent licenses can still be purchased without a Creative Cloud subscription, through Insight or through the CU M@rketplace (vendors GovConnection and CDW), for about $80. The differences between the new April 2015 version, Acrobat Pro DC 2015, and the previous version, Acrobat Pro 11, are enumerated at

For other Adobe products, Creative Cloud subscriptions can be purchased directly from Adobe at or through a campus VIP, contacting Bruce Fast at 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?

There will be no future CS versions, that is, no CS7. The CS product line is frozen at CS6, and it is not possible to purchase new CS licenses. Acrobat Pro is not included in this category; it is still possible to get a permanent Acrobat license.

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

There is still a CLP Level 3 discount for Acrobat Pro licenses, but not for other Adobe products.

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 the model of permanent licenses with maintenance/upgrade fees. Instead, everything is available by Creative Cloud subscription, which involves continuous automatic upgrades.

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, 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 from month to month to Adobe's promotional pricing, but are approximately:

  •   $19/month for a named-user license, full suite
  •   $9/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).

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 from Also, all Macs have the program Preview, which displays and exports PDF, JPG, and PNG files.
  • Mac OS X has a simple way to "print" any document to a PDF file; choose Print from the menu, then look for the PDF choices in the lower-left corner of the the printer dialog box.
  • 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?

Permanent licenses for Acrobat Pro continue to be available for purchase through GovConnection, CDW, and Insight, at CLP rates, now for about $80.

Note that Acrobat Pro is included in Creative Cloud subscriptions, so CC subscribers don't have to purchase an Acrobat license separately, unless they let the CC subscription lapse.

Do these changes affect other universities too?

Yes, these changes to Adobe licensing are 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.