Does that CS6 price tag REALLY say that?


I am writing this blog post on a new computer.  Having finally made the switch from a PC to a Mac, I was reminded in rather brutal fashion that the purchase of the computer is only half the monetary story.  Actually, as is the case for most designers, the cost of the computer is more like <25% of the story.

My last software purchases of significance were Rhino v4.0 and Adobe Creative Suite (CS) 2.  These were both purchased in the early weeks of my graduate education, and at a considerable discount through the wonders of student pricing.  Most people that continue in education can still receive this discount, but those of us outside of academia pay through the nose.  While perusing the digital shelves of Adobe’s online store, I was shocked at the price tag for CS6.  A standalone license for the full version (not an upgrade from a previous version) of Creative Suite 6 Design & Web Premium will set you back a staggering $1899.00.  Out of curiosity, I checked Autodesk.  AutoCAD Architecture costs $5245.00 for a full version, not counting the Windows operating system that would be needed for it to run on a Mac.  (As a side note, they do have a AutoCAD version for Mac, but I don’t know anyone who has actually tried it.)  Admittedly, had my partner and I purchased another PC, I would have been able to load my aging software onto the machine.  However, Adobe no longer supports CS2, updates aren’t available, and my office has recently given up this aged ghost of creativity as well.  It seems that my decision to upgrade is no longer really my decision.

For those of you still in school, I am sure you can appreciate the deliciously confusing nature of student pricing.  As far as I can tell from the website, Rhino comes without restrictions on what the student version of the software can be used for.  On the other hand, the Adobe products (and all Autodesk products as well) come with some pretty severe restrictions.  At their most basic level, these restrictions prevent the student from producing any work with the aid of the software tools that will net the student a profit.  Functionally, I find no difference between the student version and the full licensed version of Adobe products.  They rely on the honor system when asking that work for profit not be generated from student licenses of software.  Autodesk goes considerably further in their efforts to separate legitimate copies from student licenses.  Those of us that actually paid for a student license of AutoCAD (most of the “student” copies out there are ripped off of some Torrent or file share site somewhere) are aware of the “student watermark” that populates any print product that is produced with these versions.  While a simple white rectangle in Illustrator or other similar clipping mask can render these notices invisible, the digital signature remains embedded in the code of the drawing.

Students, beware.  ANY file that these student software versions touch will embed this watermark, and, from a technical standpoint, it is extremely difficult to remove.  If you are working for an office, I can’t stress enough how important it is to completely separate your professional production from your academic production.  Either ask to use an office machine, or ask to be provided with a legitimate copy of all programs that you will require to complete your work.

In closing, I would like to pose a few questions.  For those of you that are still in school, where do you get your software?  (If you get it illegally, you can use the “anonymous” option in the commentary section.  You can still participate in the conversation without outing yourself.)  For those of you who have recently graduated, what is your plan for transitioning from your student software versions to fully licensed ones?  Is there any need or reason for you to upgrade?  If you work for an office, what is your offices policy for providing software and licenses for the production of work outside of the 8-5 office environment?

3 thoughts on “Does that CS6 price tag REALLY say that?

  1. Too much of the software that seems like a monopoly is outrageously priced for individuals as well as small businesses. I use Gimp for what I need for photo editing and graphic design, instead of Photoshop and have been happy with Photoshop Elements before. I use OpenOffice, Pdf995, Sketchup free, etc – there are still options out there. If you are doing after hours work for your company, they should be providing mobile licenses if not the full laptop!

  2. still in school, autodesk is nice about student licensing – each product comes with something like a 3-year license that actually renews if you upgrade. not sure why they decided to offer it for free for students – maybe they realized that people will just pirate and that the market share is pretty small compared to commercial licensing?

    adobe is a bit more difficult – our computer lab is undersized to the point that we’re required to use our own computers for much of our work, and even the student pricing can be a little difficult to manage, which raises a pretty big ethical dilemma between finding a torrent or somehow finding the cash.. especially with compatibility issues (between the lab and between other students) almost necessitating updating the CS version whenever possible..

    a lot of us pledged that even if we had to do what was necessary to survive simultaneously in school and life, we’d at least buy Adobe before we leave – for non-commercial uses, of course.. it’s still hard to argue that it’s the right thing to do, tho

    but then again, with the cost of living and education generally just so much higher, is it right charging students to learn what is essentially required software?

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