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Software Subscription Review and Cloud Computing Review

Adobe is moving to a subscription only model for its new and updated software. There will be no further updates to the boxed versions

(We recommend you consider alternatives like the CorelDraw Graphics suite, take a look at our review You might also be interested in out Windows 8 Review)

Our opinion and a review of using software as a service and cloud computing as a service

Review of Software Subscriptions and Cloud Computing.  Software as a service and cloud computing advantages and disadvantages.  The positive and the negative

Software Subscription Positives and Subscription Advantages

  • Initial cost to acquire the subscription software license is less than purchasing a permanent license outright
  • Your software will be kept up-to-date with bug fixes, new features and service packs
  • Costs may be less using the software on multiple devices (see Microsoft Subscription and other vendor costs Below)

Cloud Computer Positives and Cloud Computing Advantages

  • You data can be accessed anywhere there is an internet connection
  • You data can be available on multiple devices and device types and varying operating systems
  • Storage space is often free (although limited or minimal unless you pay addtional fees)
  • Data is backed up by the vendor.   Data loss risks are less than not having local  backups
  • You save time and effort when sharing your files across multiple devices and multiple locations

See our Software Subscription and Cloud Computing Conclusions at the end of this review

Downside of software subscriptions and cloud computing

We compare software subscriptions to renting a home or leasing a car versus owning a home or a car.  Rent and you pay forever, buy and you fully own, you pay for it no more.

Software Subscription Negatives and Subscription disadvantages

  • You pay for the software rental even when you do not use it.  We sometimes do not use software for months while we are traveling or when we don't have work to do
  • Upgrades are not always needed.  We have software that we bought years ago, we don't need upgrades for the limited purposes we use the software
  • Some software subscriptions require always on internet connections to use it
  • Software companies fail or merge.  You may not be able to continue to use your software under these occurrences
  • Privacy. Your personal information and / or identity data is owned by the software company.  It may be sold to 'big data', Privacy policies and data uses can change without your having any control or direct approval.
  • Subscription prices usually are NOT competitive when compared to purchased box or purchased downloaded. Example: Norton Internet security.  Buy it from Symantec and its $70 a year, buy it at completive retail and get it for for under $40
  • The continuing price you pay is subject to changes / increases at any time by the vendor 
  • Cancelled subscriptions may not be refundable or there may be a penalty for cancelling early.  Adobe refunds only 50% of the contract balance if you cancel after 30 days
  • Vendors can remove, restrict or modify software features without your awareness

Cloud Computing Negatives and Cloud disadvantages

  • We use our computers and data where internet connections are NOT available.  Rural areas, international locations, etc.
  • Some internet are SLOW, too slow to work effectively in the cloud
  • The Internet goes down.  When the electricity goes out we work on battery power and local storage
  • The cloud is prone to hacking, security flaws and weaknesses, etc.
  • There is ultimately no privacy in the cloud for all of the reasons mentioned here and many others
  • Cloud host networks and cloud servers can have technical problems.
  • Cloud locations are mostly rented spaces. Don't pay the rent? There goes your file access.
  • You rely on someone else to backup your files, if there is a failure your files may be gone forever
  • Companies merge, go bankrupt and fail.  Your data can become lost in these scenarios
  • With 'everywhere' access you depend on the security in the cloud and at the current use location, and that locations internet security
  • Some device types may not work with your cloud data
  • Older software / operating systems may not be able to handle your cloud data
  • Cloud computing is limited to services determined by vendors. 
  • Use Apple, you are in the iCloud, use Microsoft, you are in SkyDrive,  You must worry about managing data where it lives and cost of multiple locations
  • Long term file storage is more expensive than storing data locally
  • Vendor terms of service may limit you to what you can store by file content.  Specifically, Microsoft forbids certain subject matter of files stored on their SkyDrive. (i.e., no nudity in images - don't think of storing art classics with nudity)

Microsoft Subscription Costs versus Purchased software (perpetual license)

Microsoft, Adobe and other software vendors wish to insure that they receive a constant and predicable stream of revenue.  Adobe has eliminated permanent purchase of a license altogether for this reason.

The trend is to make software license PURCHASE more expensive than subscriptions (license rental)

  • Microsoft Office Professional for home use, is licensed for 5 devices for $99 a year.
  • Microsoft Office Professional, purchased software version, is limited to 1 computer and costs $400 for the one license.  The software can be MOVED to another computer only with a call to Microsoft

Conclusions.  What we like and don't like (and hate) about Software Subscriptions and Cloud Computing:

Subscriptions and Cloud Computing ultimately reduces our choices and our options.  We have been computing for a long time and are nearing retirement.  We foresee a time when we have to reduce costs and software subscription costs will be one of  them.  We want to use Office and Adobe until we breath our last breath but we don't want to be 'taxed' to keep using it

We like:

  • Accessing our files from almost everywhere (We use this on limited basis for iTunes and some files we wish to share with others
  • The thought of always having our software up-to-date with features, bug fixes and service packs.

We Don't Like

  • Imposition of file content matter restrictions outside of legal definitions.
  • Adobe could have offered an alternative to subscription only: Buy now permanently, get all updates as subscription.

We Hate:

  • There is no or little software subscription offers available in retail - no competitive prices.  The prices are fixed.  You pay their price or you cannot use it
  • Paying for software forever and losing access when we longer pay.  Subscription software is not longer a business investment; it is strictly a cost.
  • More privacy erosions and security risk exposure
  • The increased cost of purchased software and the ultimate increased cost of perpetual use
  • The reduction of consumer choice in using the software  and options in purchasing software
  • The thought of price increase at the whim and will of the vendors

Final Thought:

Cloud based subscription only seems tantamount to price fixing, anti-competitive in nature.  Invest and your investment is gone when you stop paying

We vaguely feel like we are being led around on a leash and that is un-American.  Adobe PhotoShop has a virtual monopoly in professional class image editing and this is where it leads.  We recommend you consider alternatives like the CorelDraw Graphics suite, take a look at our review.  Corel offers subscriptions but it also can be purchased as perpetual software

We say this with some amusement but are serious:  Seniors get discounts when using other services, why not a student like discount for senior citizens


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Cloud an Subscription Highlights

Subscribe to software and you are always up-to-date

Access your files in the cloud from many device types, and almost everywhere

You depend on the technical reliability of a third party

You depend on someone else for security

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