Adobe has announced that it is to introduce a cloud-based subscription model for many of its most popular applications, including Photoshop, InDesign and Dreamweaver.
The change means that Adobe’s CS6 will be the last version of Creative Suite, and all future Adobe Pro software will be available on a monthly subscription basis via the internet.
Standalone versions and bug fixes will still be available, but the software will not be upgraded, according to the BBC.
Adobe said the new model will free the company from its traditional 18 to 24-month upgrade cycle, enabling it to release improvements as they become available.
Users who want upgrades and enhancements to Creative Suite will have to take out a subscription to Adobe's Creative Cloud, which includes online storage and project management tools.
In the UK, access to all programs in the Creative Cloud will cost £47 a month with a minimum one-year contract, or £70 a month for customers who opt for no tie-in.
Access to individual applications costs just under £18 a month if customers sign up for a year.
Adobe claims it already has 500,000 subscribers for Creative Cloud after running a pilot programme for the past year.
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Analysts said the move is indicative of the end of perpetually licensed software, with a number of other large software firms, including Microsoft, moving to cloud-based subscription models.
However, Microsoft has indicated that a move to cloud-only may be premature.
In a blog post, Microsoft’s Clint Patterson said that like Adobe, Microsoft believes subscription software-as-a-service (SaaS) is the future because subscribers are always up-to-date.
“However, unlike Adobe, we think people's shift from packaged software to subscription services will take time,” he wrote.
“Within a decade, we think everyone will choose to subscribe because the benefits are undeniable. In the meantime, we are committed to offering choice – premier software sold as a package and powerful services sold as a subscription,” said Patterson.
Despite this view, he conceded that since the launch of Office 365 Home Premium and Office 365 University in January, more than a quarter of consumers buying Office have chosen the subscription.
“So, perhaps the shift is happening faster than we originally thought, and Adobe is helping blaze the trail,” he said.