back to article Adobe yanks freebie Creative Cloud offer – now universities and colleges have to put up or shut up

Universities are on the hook for a massive hike in Adobe licensing costs unless they restrict use to students in creative subjects, techies in Further and Higher Education circles have told us. The move comes in the wake of COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown, which highlighted that some institutions had bought licences that …

  1. Magani

    Haven't we got rid of...

    ...the Extended Three Letter Acronym (ETLA)?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Haven't we got rid of...

      The ETLA has been replaced by the FLA - Four-Letter Acronym.

      Or is that NATO's Future Large Aircraft? Or Five Letter Acronym? Or an old way of indicating the state of Florida? (Does anyone know why they started using only two letters for states? Is it really because millennials find that many letters hard to remember?)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Haven't we got rid of...

        "Is it really because millennials find that many letters hard to remember?"

        Or boomers minds aren't as sharp as they used to be?

  2. james_smith Silver badge

    The first hit's free but when you want some more, show me the money.

    1. juice Silver badge

      > The first hit's free but when you want some more, show me the money.

      TBH, this sounds like they're demanding that universities pay for the first hit. And said education institutes are a bit over a barrel, since a lot of them are shifting to distance learning, where the student won't have direct access to the institute's systems.

      Still, this feels like an attempt to shore up short-term profits while C19 is ravaging the economy. It'll be interesting to see what the long term impact is, since the two most likely outcomes I can see are that there'll either be fewer students, or that universities will look at switching to cheaper alternatives.

      (Though equally: are there any realistic alternatives? Photoshopping became a verb for a reason...)

      1. Stumpy Silver badge

        I think there are plenty of capable alternatives to Photoshop, and Premiere - not so sure about After Effects.

        The problem I suspect most F/HE institutes will face is whether they are (a) simply providing tools to enable the student's creative expression, or (b) providing tools that will train the student in industry standard software and workflows in order to better prepare them for the workplace.

        (a) Means they could look to use any capable tooling (eg; Gimp, Krita, etc.) (b) kinda means they're stuck with Adobe.

        1. big_D Silver badge

          Maybe then can switch to British/European tools. I switched from PS to Affinity Photo, which was much cheaper, a perpetual license and covered everything I needed.

          Obviously, a heavyweight user will probably still need add-ins or tools that only Adobe provides, but there are professional alternatives out there - I switched from Lightroom + PhotoShop to CaptureOne and Affinity Photo and I am very happy with it.

          The other question is, should we be teaching students to use a tool or teaching them how something works? When I was at college, we used 2 or 3 different tools, E.g. DisplayWrite, MultiWrite and WordPerfect and we could use whatever tool we wanted privately to create course work (I used Arnor Protext). We were taught how to word process, not how to use WordPerfect, for example.

          I think giving students a range of tools and teaching them how different features work, as opposed to parrot-fashion which key presses or mouse clicks are needed, is much more important.

          1. RobLang

            Two "heavy weight" artists/photographers I know have moved over to Affinity; they strong suggested over a pint way back when I used to go to pubs, that I should do the same. Have never looked back.

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              "Two "heavy weight" artists/photographers I know have moved over to Affinity; they strong suggested over a pint way back when I used to go to pubs, that I should do the same. Have never looked back."

              If you are an advanced user, Affinity might be an option depending on the sort of work you do. The problem is finding tutorials and support as a beginner or intermediate user. Anything you want to do in Photoshop is likely going to have a video on YouTube showing how to do it and there are training companies with professionally produced tutorials that are focused on Adobe products.

              When you get off the beaten track, you have to hack away at the jungle vines a lot more on your own.

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                "The problem is finding tutorials and support as a beginner or intermediate user."

                That shouldn't be a problem for students though, what with them being in a place of learning and all :-)

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            "I think giving students a range of tools and teaching them how different features work, as opposed to parrot-fashion which key presses or mouse clicks are needed, is much more important."

            Whilst I agree with you, the students in question are "creatives", not techies :-)

        2. fidodogbreath Silver badge

          The problem is that they kind of need to do both. Like it or not, Creative Suite is the industry standard and is deeply integrated into many corporate workflows. Almost all graphic-arts job postings require Creative Suite experience and proficiency.

          So yeah, there are other tools out there; but the hiring manager does not care how good you are with Gimp, Inkscape, Scribus, et al. Companies that hire independent graphics professionals on a contract basis will often require that the deliverables be provided in CS file formats.

          Adobe's business model is a master class in creating and protecting a monopoly.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            They used to require all the deliverables to be in Quark Xpress format. Noone would deviate from Quark + Mac, from design to print.

            Quark was resting on its laurels and within anamazingly short space of time was replaced by all and sundry with Adobe Indesign. The Macs sort of remain (many pros will use a PC or swap between them and they are pretty much interchangeable now file formats and fonts aren't an issue).

            So Adobe better not get too cocky before an upstart decides to do to them what they did to Quark.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I used a variety of photo editing apps for years until I decided to give Photoshop a try (ISTR I had a month free with PS2). Suddenly, all the things that I struggled with using competing apps evaporated - I realised why Photoshop had become the goto for professionals. I bought it at the end of the free trial. It was worth getting hold of a decent how-to and learn more of its features. Still my goto when things get beyond Lightroom.

        4. MachDiamond Silver badge

          "I think there are plenty of capable alternatives to Photoshop, and Premiere - not so sure about After Effects."

          Yes, but the real world uses Adobe products so students wind up learning on software that very paying companies use.

          I have to pay for my own Adobe licenses and it's good value for a reasonable amount of outlay. Lightroom and Photoshop are $10/month on an annual license. I spent way more than that on beer and crisps every week at Uni. I use Final Cut for video since I learned with but I might start using Premiere/After Effects and have to get a bigger license bundle. It's no different than books and lab fees when at school. I don't see why the school has to pay for it. When it comes to something such as Solidworks where the annual license is dearer than a second hand car........

      2. My-Handle Silver badge

        "Photoshopping became a verb for a reason..."

        True, but so did Hoovering. Nowadays, if you asked someone to name a vacuum cleaner brand they'd probably say Dyson. The words tend to stick around far longer than the actual product.

        Photoshop is good, but it does cost (and as a personal nitpick, Adobe's attitude to how it's software runs on your machine is frustrating at best). All it takes is for the cost / benefit balance to tip and suddenly Adobe isn't top dog any more. It may be the next big package is nearly as good as Photoshop, but is cheaper and easier to use.

        1. Greybearded old scrote

          I was once told a story about somebody applying for a pretty high up position with Electrolux. Asked what he knew about the company he replied, "You make hoovers don't you?"

          I understand he didn't get the job.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Well although that is probably apocryphal, if it was true and someone went for a high up position in a company and the questin was "what do you know about Electrolux" and his reply was "You make vacuum cleaners don't you?" I would suspect he would be just as unlikely to get the job.

            When I interiew if ever I ask about what they know about our company and they reply "not much" or " you do x" then they will have to better hope they are very well qualfied for the role. It is such a basic and integral part of the interview that you've done some research on the company and actually want to work there rather than it seeming like it was just one in a long list of jobs you've applied for and you don't care which you get.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Short, shameful confession

          I used to run non-licensed (you know what I mean, yarrr) Photoshop and Illustrator because they way too expensive for my (at the time) student's budget.

          Then they started with this cloud and subscription nonsense.

          Then I discovered Affinity Design and Photo. A much better deal and they do what I need.

          I am not affiliated with them, just a happy, legal costumer.

          1. big_D Silver badge

            Re: Short, shameful confession

            Yes, I switched my photo processing process from LR + PS to CaptureOne + Affinity Photo. I am very happy with the results, even if CaptureOne isn't exactly cheap - I used the free version I got with my camera for a couple of years, but upgraded to Pro for my daughter's wedding pictures this year.

          2. Snake Silver badge

            Re: Short, shameful confession

            A heads-up regarding Affinity Design is always welcome, but it seems that Affinity Design still can't open INDD files natively. This is sad for anyone collaborating with CS/CC users, such as myself; exporting and importing, or converting then opening, constantly, is a tremendous drain on productivity without 100% guaranteed-on-all-outcomes results.

            That's why we stay with Adobe, sadly. As I've mentioned before it's a Catch-22: you use Adobe because your files are Adobe and everyone else uses Adobe, and they use Adobe because everyone else is using Adobe and their files are Adobe. Cross-colloboration across platforms is just too much of a productivity hit.

            1. cd

              Re: Short, shameful confession

              Will the files open at Free PS-like website that will work even if you lose your connection once it's loaded.

              Not sure why uni's haven't found it yet, much less students.

          3. katrinab Silver badge

            Re: Short, shameful confession

            I am reliably informed that it is still possible to run unlicensed copies of (almost) the latest versions of Adobe CC software.

            1. David 132 Silver badge

              Re: Short, shameful confession

              Unfortunately, that doesn’t so much “stick it to Adobe”, as “help perpetuate their monoculture in the creative and design fields”.

        3. really_adf

          Nowadays, if you asked someone to name a vacuum cleaner brand they'd probably say Dyson.

          If you ask people to name a hoover brand, I think more would say Dyson than Hoover.

        4. Adelio

          But why do you need a licence, just buy the dammed thing once and leave it at that.

        5. juice Silver badge

          > True, but so did Hoovering. Nowadays, if you asked someone to name a vacuum cleaner brand they'd probably say Dyson.

          True to a degree, but there's a world of difference between a single-use appliance, and a highly complex tool with specific workflows and effects.

          TBH, the biggest threat to Adobe - and the people who are employed to use it - is all the "AI" photo enhancement stuff which is now being freely offered on mobile phone photo apps and the like.

          There's a huge chunk of the amateur (and the lower end of the professional) market which is rapidly vanishing into thin air, thanks to the way you can just click a button to make someone look younger/thinner, change their hair and makeup or even greenscreen them.

          And while the quality may not be as good, it'll generally be Good Enough for most people, much like mobile phone cameras themselves, when compared to DLSRs.

          The times, they are a-changing, and Adobe is likely to find themselves with an ever-smaller market to sell into.

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            "TBH, the biggest threat to Adobe - and the people who are employed to use it - is all the "AI" photo enhancement stuff which is now being freely offered on mobile phone photo apps and the like."

            For bloggers and unrepentant selfie producers, yep, they'll use the wizardry on their phone. Professionals need much finer control over what changes are being made to a photo. Content-Aware Fill in Photoshop can be brilliant sometimes, other times it's a dog's breakfast. If that's your only tool, you aren't delivering the photo your customer is going to be happy paying you for. Photography is way too subjective (non-news) for AI to be useful all of the time. For a photographer, editing/post production is as much of the process as capturing the photo in the first place. For some, the captured image is just the starting point.

            When I freelanced for Reuters, any enhancement, even shooting in RAW and converting to .jpg was verboten. They make an exception if one got a photo of something very newsworthy such as a plane crash and there were no other photos on the RAW conversion. They might still buck against an AI enhanced image. The last thing they want is an allegation that a photo they are supplying has been altered in a way that changes reality.

      3. Snapper

        Take some time and check out the excellent (and far, far cheaper with no monthly fee) Affinity Photos (Photoshop), Designer (Illustrator) and Publisher (InDesign) apps as they are nearly 100% compatible, don't have all the legacy cruft and lazy coding of Adobe, and actually take advantage of modern multi-core computers.

        Adobe has been greedy for far too long.

  3. thondwe


    Licencing is the bane of the software industry - any one remember Borland's "no nonsense" agreement back in the day for Turbo Pascal.

    If only they saved money on Licensing Monks and invested it in bug removal...

    1. ThereBePirates

      Re: LIcensing

      I remember the dongles that used to be used for Autocad and 3D studio too

  4. Greybearded old scrote

    Just perhaps

    Universities should be teaching the principles rather than specific packages. Yes, I know that industry wants the Uni do their job and train on exactly what they are using this year. But by the time the students graduate the dominant package will have been significantly altered, possibly several times.

    Other graphic software is available. (Yes, again, there is significant work in rewriting the courses, but when you've got it wrong you have to do that work.)

    1. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: Just perhaps

      Spot on, we are also an institution stuck with Adobe. There are plenty of perfectly good substitutes, just teach the skills, not learning which menu contains your desired command...

    2. Quentin North

      Re: Just perhaps

      Universities don't just teach theory, they also teach employable skills and if you want to work in creative industries in particular you need to have knowledge of using Adobe tools. In IT it would be Microsoft, Mysql, K8, etc. The IT model is generally a bit skewed because a lot is open source, but even Microsoft and Oracle provide all their tools to students for use on and off campus at no extra charge whereas Adobe insists on chrarging more for off campus use. My understanding is this is largely driven by Adobe being a near monopoly in the professional sector and also because Adobe pricing is based on the US universities who are largely for profit and have big bank balances, which is not so true in the EU or UK.

      1. Stumpy Silver badge

        Re: Just perhaps

        It is pretty poor form though for Adobe to be charging for this stuff for student use.

        Autodesk, for example provide free licenses for Maya and 3D-StudioMAX for any student's non-commercial use as long as you can prove you're enrolled on a course at a registed institution.

      2. Greybearded old scrote

        Re: Just perhaps

        That comes back to my second sentence, the unfashionable distinction between education and training. I'm reminded of one of Asimov's stories, where vocational knowledge was downloaded directly into people's brains. (Decades before The Matrix.) Trouble was, it left them completely inflexible.

        BTW, Microsoft are actually a minority player in IT these days. Even Satnad admitted to about 17% a few years ago.

        1. Greybearded old scrote

          Re: Just perhaps

          I have so many unfashionable opinions it's ridiculous. I bang my own drum, some think it's noise...

      3. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Just perhaps

        When I was at college, we used a PET based wordprocessor, then DisplayWrite IV and MultiWrite (the same for languages, spreadsheets etc. with Visicalc and MultiPlan giving way to Lotus 1-2-3). My first job was using Microsoft Word and Excel on a Mac (as well as LightSpeed Pascal and LightSpeed C++).

        But the college had taught me the principals of word processing and spreadsheets. They hadn't taught me parrot fashion to use DisplayWrite, VisiCalc or 1-2-3. That meant, I sat in from of Word and Excel on a Mac Plus and could just get on with using it, I didn't have to "relearn" everything.

        Then I worked for a customer using WordPeferct on VAX and DOS. Then I worked on a contract using AmiPro. I quickly adjusted and just got on with it. Somebody who had just learnt menu or key sequences would be lost, by comparison.

        Likewise, I was taught the fundamentals of programming, then PET BASIC and Prime COBOL, with RPG/II and RPG/III on a college project with a local pharma company. When I started work, I was using MS BASIC, VAX COBOL, Turbo Pascal, Intel Assembler, 4D, Clipper, Visual Basic and Visual C++, among other languages and over the years a quickly rotating toolset, from Java to PHP, to C#.

        If I had just learnt to use the tools-de-jour at college, I'd never have gotten anywhere in the real world, because I never came across those tools again, the world was constantly changing and the tools I learnt to use a college were obsolete by the time I graduated. But the skills and basic principles I learnt were still valid and allowed me to pick up new tools with no training about how they worked.

        1. Nunyabiznes Silver badge

          Re: Just perhaps

          Upvote, but...

          I still work with end users. And honestly, there are many of them, even Uni grads, that will never be anything more than rote learners. They simply cannot extrapolate from A+B=C to C-B=A.

          They might be wonderful humans, but they are the ones making the average intelligence lower.

          I student-taught a course, while in college, on critical thinking. Only about 30% of my students could actively take a set of facts and apply them to more than one situation - even after graduation.

          *I had to pause to answer a phone call while writing this. The user was asking about an email they received and what they should do with it. It was explained in the first paragraph of the email exactly what was expected, from who and when. I fully expect to answer a lot of these calls in the next few hours. Bonus: The email wasn't even from our office. Sigh.

      4. RM Myers Silver badge

        "...based on the US universities who are largely for profit and have big bank balances,""

        Wrong on all counts. The most current statistics I could quickly find (2017-2018 school year) had 985 for-profit colleges, 1,626 public (government run) colleges, and 1,687 non-profit colleges. The number of for-profit colleges has been decreasing, and many are in financial trouble (as are many of the non-profits). The colleges with big bank accounts (endowments) are almost all non-profits (think Harvard, Princeton, Yale, MIT, etc.). Other than a couple of colleges with somewhat shaky reputations (especially University of Phoenix), the larger colleges are either public or non-profit.

        1. Nunyabiznes Silver badge

          Re: "...based on the US universities who are largely for profit and have big bank balances,""

          Thanks for doing the research. I had a feeling this was true but didn't want to post until I had actual numbers.

          Although "non-profit" can be a tad misleading. They can make a lot of money, they just have to have good accountants to skirt the tax laws.

          1. RM Myers Silver badge

            Re: "...based on the US universities who are largely for profit and have big bank balances,""

            True. Harvard alone has an endowment of almost $40 billion, and is still considered a nonprofit. That is just crazy.

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: "...based on the US universities who are largely for profit and have big bank balances,""

              "Harvard alone has an endowment of almost $40 billion, and is still considered a nonprofit."

              Non-profit is a tax classification, that's all. Many non-profits, think: Clinton Foundations, pay their operators huge salaries. The person receiving the money needs to hide it on a personal level, but the company dodges paying tax on the money first. The non-profit can also purchase plush offices and provide company cars to the operators benefit.

              If a "non-profit" wants you to give them something free or at a very reduced price, don't fall for it. Charities are non-profit, but many "non-profits" are not charities. Big difference.

              Harvard has lots of very successful alums. It's just taken a lot of time and making sure they provide a high quality education and insist that students meet high standards. If they start lowering teaching and achievement standards, companies won't do as much recruiting of grads and alums won't be leaving massive endowments when they die.

          2. Nick Ryan Silver badge

            Re: "...based on the US universities who are largely for profit and have big bank balances,""

            Many universities while non-profit also own for-profit subsidiaries which perform commercial work and funding for the university. This does not mean that anything bad is going on, just that it's a way around the not-for-profit restrictions and there are very many genuine reasons that a university will want to spin off for-profit activities. Most of these subsidiaries should have a charter requiring the profit to be routed back to the university and this non-tied income is incredibly important to many universities and is often the only reason they are still viable.

      5. Justin Case

        Re: Just perhaps

        > Universities don't just teach theory, they also teach employable skills

        That's as maybe, but the danger is that they are just churning out the "trained" rather than the "educated".

        1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

          Re: Just perhaps

          Apprenticeships are there for skills, degrees are there for education.

          There is never a clean dividing line though, add in a generation of snobbery around degrees vs apprenticeships and a drive to make statistics look good (lots of degrees, academic qualifications) and it's no wonder we are in the mess we are in now.

      6. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Just perhaps

        "Universities don't just teach theory, they also teach employable skills and if you want to work in creative industries in particular you need to have knowledge of using Adobe tools."

        So, use cheaper alternatives for years one and two and use Adobe for year three. The students come out multi-skilled with the most recent being what the main employers want them to know. Everybody wins and the graduates are ready for change or to work for companies who do use alternatives. Remember, a degree isn't supposed to be a vocational work experience course. It's supposed to teach you the subject as well as how to research and learn on your own or in a team. I wonder how many here have degrees they never used as intended? Or where their degree simply made them more skilled for the unrelated job they ended up in. ISTR someone once posted they did a chemistry degree but ended up in software design, primarily but not exclusively in the pharmaceutical industry.

    3. Mike 137 Silver badge

      Re: Just perhaps

      "Universities should be teaching the principles ..."

      They did once but not for several decades now. Ever since University education, with very few exceptions, ceased to be about pursuit of knowledge and became instead a ritualised way to obtain a passport to typically non-subject relevant employment. The degree is the new A-level.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nose, say goodbye to face!

    Could be good news for Adobe's competitors. As a part-time tutor at a college, I have access to the college licence, which is useful for the occasional poster or illustration, but not essential. If I can't use Adobe's packages there are plenty of others I can use if I need them. I'll have to pay but it will be a lot less than I would have to for Adobe.

    In fact, it might even end up persuading me to switch from my current personal Lightroom/Photoshop licence, as one of the alternative pairings to Illustrator and In Design also has a Photoshop member - it's just migrating 20 years of catalogues to a new home!

    1. Greybearded old scrote

      Re: Nose, say goodbye to face!

      Yeah, lock-in is a right lady dog.

      Has anyone tried reverse engineering the Lightroom database schema?

  6. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    “Universities where Adobe is not core will get a lot more focused”

    Yep, indeed : focused on alternatives that cost less, even if they're not as good.

    Maybe this push by Adobe is going to incite other vendors to up their game a bit. Adobe has always had a near-monopoly with Photoshop, even forcing its clients to the Could didn't put a dent in its user base, although teeth were grinding loudly.

    That's because there is no product that can compete with Adobe on features, Photoshop is just king of the hill.

    And Adobe pushes that as far as it can (in the interest of its shareholders, of course).

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: “Universities where Adobe is not core will get a lot more focused”

      Students are there to supposedly learn a craft, not how to use a specific piece of software.

      They should learn the principles and the skills for the subject at hand at Uni and when they start work, it is the company's job to ensure they are up to speed on the specific software they use. I learnt on a disparate set of tools and that put me in good stead for industry, where I was using a different tool every other month (for example, I learnt word processing at college, at work I used MS Word for Mac, WordPerfect, DisplayWrite IV, AmiPro and later, Word for Windows, and that was just word processing, but I had learn what word processing is and how to apply that to a piece of software, so actually dropping out one piece of software for another was no hindrance to being productive).

      Likewise, I switched from Lightroom & Photoshop to CaptureOne and Affinity Photo this year, I was productive in minutes on the new combination, because I learnt how photo post processing and editing worked, not how to use LR and PS.

      1. Psmo Silver badge

        Re: “Universities where Adobe is not core will get a lot more focused”

        Completely in agreement, but as said elsewhere: Many people have difficulty transferring skills.

        Modern tools don't assist this by streamlining the workflow.

        For example I've taught amateur sound techs in a few hours using general techniques on analogue equipment that would be recognisable 40 years ago.

        On a modern digital setup, all the power and flexibility is at your fingertips so we have to front-load all the necessary theory (hours in a classroom) or teach the tools.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: “Universities where Adobe is not core will get a lot more focused”

        "Likewise, I switched from Lightroom & Photoshop to CaptureOne and Affinity Photo this year, I was productive in minutes on the new combination, because I learnt how photo post processing and editing worked, not how to use LR and PS."

        If you were just starting today, which would you choose? PS/LR has so much community support that getting help and finding tutorials is easy. Many photographers use CaptureOne since it's so much better in tethered environment. I've only peeked at it a few times so I have no idea about it's cataloging features (any?). Affinity? It's pretty new and has some proponents, but I don't see the support.

        I do agree that there is a difference between leaning how to do something on a computer and how to use a particular program. I do a lot of CAD work and the top packages are very similar from the standpoint of designing parts. The differences are often in back-end management and collaboration. Once you've leaned something like Solidworks, you can switch to another brand pretty darn fast. This means you alway lie to HR if you are applying to a company that uses a brand different from what you have used. The idea is to get to the interview with the manager that you would work under and come clean then. Chances are, it they are an engineer, they'll know that you'll be up to speed in no time so no big deal. If you don't check the box with HR first, you'll never get to that interview. Why do people lie on their resumes? HR wonks need to be spoon fed what they want to hear.

  7. Quentin North

    Adobe infurate

    What is most infuriating about Adobe's position is that they took out a large advertorial in a national paper proclaiming the company's dedication to online education and advocating for greater of use of their tools at the same time as removing the temporary use at home basis for students. As I have said elsewhere, Adobe probably believe they are doing good things here but seem to only have an understanding of the for profit US universities and colleges with large bank balances and no corporate understanding of the EU/UK public sector universities and the value of consolidating the use of the tools in the learning experience when students go on to become professionals. Even Microsoft and Oracle get that, as they provide tools to all students on and off campus for no extra cost which make embedding those tools in teaching and learning, alongside open source, a good choice for professional skills development which is an important part of a good education.

    1. thondwe

      Re: Adobe infurate

      And you can throw in the fact that Adobe explicitly disallow access via remote desktop for Device Based licencing - so allowing students to remote into existing labs of PCs/Macs isn't allowed - as for COVID19 mitigation...

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Adobe infurate

        What if the Uni provides the laptop to the student to work from home?

  8. karlkarl Silver badge

    GIMP is getting pretty slow and horrible to use. Soon it will easily be able to replace Photoshop at least :)

    It also seems like most companies are jumping onto the Blender Foundation; I can really see critical mass being reached for the open-source alternatives.

    1. Greybearded old scrote

      Going deep colour in GIMP 2.10 proved costly. Should have been more careful what I wished for I guess. The team don't have any time to optimise it though, they are trying to catch up with GTK 3 sometime before it gets replaced by GTK 4. (No criticism there, small team working part time.)

      Although whenever one of my photo club mates starts up Photoshop it always seems jaw-droppingly sluggish to me.

    2. Hollerithevo Silver badge

      PhotoShop replacements

      GIMP finally did not work for me. I went to Serif Affinity's suite to replace PhotoShop, Illustrator and InDesign and, while there was a bit of a learning curve (you get used to toolbars), I am really impressed. It would be great to be able to do more with INDD files, but I get that stuff is proprietary.

      I also have PhotoPea, which costs about £40 a year and which, so far (at least for my needs) is so close to PhotoShop that I don't know why they aren't being sued. You can use it for free if you don't mind a chunk of screen showing adverts or a blank space where adverts would be if you didn't have AdBlock.

  9. JulieM Silver badge


    For years, Adobe have squozen competitors out of the market, by tolerating rampant piracy of their products. Why would anyone put up with something a bit like Photoshop for 10% of the price, when they could have The Real Thing™ for 0% of the price? Meanwhile, a steady stream of people who have been learning to use Adobe software -- whether via educational discount or piracy -- have been getting jobs in the industry and asking for Adobe software. And Adobe haven't been letting businesses get away with using more than they have paid for .....

    Well, now their greed is about to bite them in the arse.

    There will be some universities who will drop Adobe products altogether, and teach students to use alternatives, probably including Open Source software. The wailing and gnashing of teeth of learning to use a new software package when you are already familiar with something else is a one-time cost; anyone who knows the general principles and is prepared to put in the effort will manage to make the switch. And learning to use anything from scratch is approximately the same amount of effort anyway.

    And when people who learned other software than Adobe start getting jobs in the industry, they probably will ask for what they already know. It's not like businesses are going to have to fork out licensing fees for the likes of GIMP or Inkscape.

    This one is for all the developers out there who were unable to sell software competing with Adobe, because of piracy; even although nobody ever made a pirate copy of your software.

    1. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: Good

      Stumbling block to unis dropping adobe is that teaching staff will need to learn the alternative product, develop new teaching materials etc.

      That takes time (and in most unis that's something the staff at the coalface don't have anymore - concept of staff development time / personal research has died at most unis (unless its something taht can be published as a paper to get uni a bit of citation rep))

    2. fidodogbreath Silver badge

      Re: Good

      Well, now their greed is about to bite them in the arse.

      Probably not. IT will push back that they can't support software that is not backed by a support organization. Parents will push back that they're not paying all this tuition money for their precious to learn software that will not get them a job. Trustees and wealthy alumni with stock in Adobe will push back out of self-interest.

      Universities will just jack up tuition or add "lab fees" for digital-arts courses to cover the cost.

      An Adobe Tax, if you will.

      1. JulieM Silver badge

        Re: Good

        Universities have been using Open Source and in-house-developed software for as long as they have had computers; restrictive licencing and binary-only distribution are recent phenomena, and hopefully short-lived ones.

        There are people in academia who are used to writing PostScript in vi, and can still do a better and quicker job than anyone with Microsoft Word.

        1. Strahd Ivarius Bronze badge

          Re: Good

          Did you ever try to write PostScript in Word?

      2. Glen 1 Silver badge

        Re: Good

        "jack up tuition"

        In England, there is a limit set as to how much Universities can charge. So of course, many (most? all? - its been a while) charge this amount.

        Which is partly why many institutions are desperate to attract foreign students, as those rules don't apply to them.

  10. IGotOut Silver badge

    Side comment

    I just purchased Afinity Photo for about £25 after hunting around for a discount code.

    I've been using GIMP for years, but now migrating to Affinty due its greater support for PS tools.

    1. Hollerithevo Silver badge

      Full price is still cheap

      I got it for £48.99. A forever price. Happy to give them the full price to support them. And so far, I am really impressed. Does everything I need to do and more. As mentioned above, I also use PhotoPea (online only) when I am on another machine and just want to do a bit of "photoshopping". Used it free until I paid the £40 annual fee.

      If I was a professional designer, covering print etc, maybe there's something Serif Affinity doesn't do, or do as well as Adobe, but I haven't ever looked in vain for the tool I needed.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unfortunately this is normal for education now, with the universities charging 9 grand a year per student for the privilege in the next year at least to be using their own light and heat to study.

  12. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    center of delivery

    Center of academic delivery? But why? It's even called creative cloud, so it makes sense to have creative (art) students use it and not pay for the rest to have it.

    1. Strahd Ivarius Bronze badge

      Re: center of delivery

      I suppose that for the Uni license you need to use the same tools as for Enterprise, with a license server and other management systems (if I remember well how it works).

      Unless you provide the students with a tool to connect their computer to the corporate university network the computer will not be able to validate the license.

  13. George Spiggott

    People never learn until it's too late, Software As A Shakedown.

    1. JulieM Silver badge

      Thank you

      I am borrowing that phrase!

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I work at one of the Universities that has had to deal with Adobe COVID19 license and the fallout and all this crap.

    The customised JISC ETLA agreement we're on is fantastic in one sense - campus wide installs & free staff home use but it can be exceedingly eye-wateringly expensive to do so. But no home use for students & no remote/virtual access permitted (via VDI or VPN etc) directly to campus computer labs which means that unless you take out a separate home use agreement specifically for students, then the Uni is basically fucked for the coming academic year (licensing & compliance wise at any rate).

    Adobe have properly taken the mickey with how they've handled this & it has not gone down well at all with my equivalent colleagues in different UK Uni's.

    We've complained and pointed out how stupid they are being but to no avail (like how Autodesk give all their software away free for teaching use). Unfortunately the UK & EU Adobe offices are being held to ransom by the USA HQ who couldn't give a monkey's about the very excessive cost it's now imposed on us.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      had the same sort of sh1t in a lab I used to work at with mathwork software. Although being a research lab and having a moniker being a POP on JANET and having a sh1t tonne of undergrads and postgrad students we weren't degree issuing which is the criteria mathworks used. So we had to pay full price for Matlab and all its toolboxes which is totally robbing, so we only licensed a couple of copies and told the boffins to use a opensource alternative octave or scilab, etc

  15. Toby Poynder

    Creative students?

    "this means Adobe ... is forcing us to license just for creative students and that means all the others ... cannot have access." I'm not sure what this means. Is a "creative student" a student doing an art or design course? Why should any other student want to use Adobe products? Genuinely confused.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Creative students?

      Adobe seem to have lost the plot. I'm reading lots of comments here about creative students and arts and the like. Well I can tell you it's NOT creative. It's communication. We use Adobe products. I used to support and lecture on FE / HE courses that used Adobe and Quark and I learned the software through a need to communicate the findings of hard science. I'm hounded constantly by recent graduates and undergrads who learned Adobe at college and now have diagrams to draw.

      I'll admit we don't use ETLA, we have to stump up for CLP and they do at least allow us to aggregate over the whole institution so we get maximum CLP but we don't use Photoshop as a core software. It's under 5% of the work but the cost which was once a one off has now risen 10 fold. What's worse is we can't realistically share one between many due to the administrative overhead of reassigning licenses - the old concurrent run license server is long past it technology (we used to use that at the college to cut costs down)

      In short, Adobe are wicked. Their approach regarding schools and colleges licensing doesn't just hook those who go on to creative courses, it's like a dragnet for everyone who ever needs to communicate in their career. And whilst an artistic type might get a good return from investing time transitioning to a non Adobe alternative, the science types just use the tool they know.

  16. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    You say "Cloud". I say

    "anonymous server farms in unknown jurisdictions"

    Completely predictable.

    It's why Apple and Microsoft and IBM made such a ton of money with the Apple II and IBM PC.

    Your data. Under your control.

    Revolutionary in the 70's. Looks like it's revolutionary in the 20's as well.

    1. Strahd Ivarius Bronze badge

      Re: You say "Cloud". I say

      Exactly, the cloud means going back to the IT systems as they were working in the 50's and 60's...

  17. Stuart Castle Silver badge

    I like the way the photo for this article on el reg's main page is a couple of girls (presumably students) looking pissed off at a laptop (presumably running Adobe software). I've spent many years supporting Adobe software (thankfully not so much now), and spent a lot of time seeing students looking pissed off at a computer running Adobe software, so this brings back memories.

  18. dbgi

    Adobe can jog on

    Adobe can jog on. It was bad enough when it was £5k for the whole caboodle, but when they moved to the subscription model, it made it even less appetising.

    I've now bought all of the Affinity products for our machines. In fact it was reasonable enough that I didn't mind spending the money on the extra licenses/copies for the rest of the family (with macs and PCs).

    Actually Affinity does a lot of things better than Adobe anyway.

    This is coming from an ex-customer that has been using Adobe products for over 20 years. screw 'em.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020