Is Renting Software the Future?

Is Renting Software the Future?

Elizabeth Giorgi
May 8, 2013

Adobe announced this week at Adobe MAX, The Creativity Conference their Creative Suite as we've always known is no more. They've replaced the software package with the "Creative Cloud," essentially the same products, but without the option of owning a physical copy. You'll rent Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign for a fee each month...and this may be the future of software. 

Adobe isn't alone. Earlier this year, Microsoft announced Office 365, a $10 per month rental program giving subscribers the option to install and use the Office Suite on up to five computers. 

There are definitely some upsides to this model: outdated versions of the program are no longer an issue, because as long as you're a current subscriber, you can use the most recent version of the software. More importantly, a subscriber rental model reduces piracy by connecting software to payment more directly. In theory, this hopefully means developers pass on the savings from lost revenue to consumers.

However, there are definitely some problems with a software rental model. Adobe's new Creative Cloud prices seem steep. A full version of a single application, such as Photoshop, is $19.99 per month with 20GB of storage. That means Photoshop will cost you $239.88 per year versus the previous model where you "owned" teach application for $699 outright, with the freedom to use it forever, and even transfer ownership to a new computer. The complete Suite will cost you $49.99 per month; current CS3 or later customers can transition to the new cloud suite for $29.99 per month. 

In addition, user customized preferences and toolbars like actions and brushes will be hosted on the cloud so they're accessible on several machines - but this also means users will have to rely on an internet connection to use their applications.

For Adobe and Microsoft product users, writing off the cost of an application becomes complicated; tracking monthly payments will need to be factored. And for someone like me, a freelancer, that's a major pain.

So what do you think? Will you transition to renting software on your computers? Or will you hold onto your existing locally stored software for as long as possible?

(Photo Credit: Adobe)
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