Adobe's aggressive plans for Creative Cloud

Adobe pulled the curtain back on its new Creative Cloud offering today, and revealed some juicy tidbits on pricing and upcoming features.

Adobe's CS6 and Creative Cloud balloons outside San Francisco's De Young Museum earlier today. (Credit: Seth Rosenblatt/CNET)

SAN FRANCISCO--Adobe took over the modern art collections on the De Young Museum's off-day today to introduce its Creative Suite 6 and a modern, cutting-edge synchronization system called Creative Cloud.

What we already know about the Creative Cloud is this: It's a significantly cheaper way to get access to the Adobe Creative Suite, with the major difference being that you pay a monthly fee instead of a buying a one-time, "perpetual" subscription. The Creative Cloud license gets you access to the entire phalanx of software in the Creative Suite, along with online storage, synchronization, and cloud-only apps. It will cost $49.99 per month for people new to Adobe, or $29.99 per month for people with legacy licenses from CS3 through CS5.5.

What we just learned sharpens the picture of Creative Cloud at launch. When it becomes available to the public, the $29.99 upgrade will only be available through August 31, 2012. If you subscribe during that period, you'll be locked into the lower rate for 12 months, said Adobe President and CEO Shantanu Narayen at a press conference this morning. Students new to Adobe will also get the discounted price of $29.99. If you pre-order it now, Adobe will tell you that Creative Cloud will launch around May 7, although that hasn't been marked as an official release day by Adobe.

We knew that the Creative Cloud would get software and feature updates much faster than the perpetual versions. Adobe said that among the updates coming this year would be adding Lightroom 4 to the Cloud's offerings; new community galleries that allow you to share images, create groups, and follow other Creative Cloud subscribers; and a Team version for workplace collaboration that will allow students and freelancers to join in without the school or company taking a financial hit.

Other new, Creative Cloud-only apps due later this year include Kuler, which will let you take a photo and build an exportable color scheme based on it; a mobile app maker called Special Edition for creating one-shot apps; and an app converter called PhoneGap Build. This tool will let anyone who's built an app for one mobile operating system convert it to any of six others. Four of the six supported operating systems are Android, iOS, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone 7.

Adobe also said that if you decide to cancel your Creative Cloud subscription, you'll get to keep a limited amount of storage. You can also purchase additional storage, independently of the Creative Cloud. Not surprisingly, "the programs stop working after you cancel your subscription," Narayen said.

But here's what we don't know about it: we can't tell you how well it works. Not yet, anyway. The Creative Cloud launches sometime in May. And while Adobe says that people are curious and positive about it, CNET readers were far more bullish.

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