When Microsoft (MS) first announced its next-generation Xbox One, many people were shocked by some of the new “console management features.” No more borrowing, renting, or selling used game titles—and MS will “ping” you daily to make sure you’re acting right. “This is the Brave New World of game console authoritarianism,” MS seemed to say, making its announcement with no thought whatsoever given to public reaction. As we learn more about MS boss Steve Ballmer’s sped-up retirement, the Xbox debacle might move higher up the list of reasons for his departure. It was a doozy.
The Public Is Not Stupid
There was huge resistance to the Xbox move, and even MS’s vaunted damage control pros (who get a lot of practice) couldn’t silence Sony’s ads reminding consumers that the new PlayStation had none of those limitations. MS caved. After announcing something to the effect of “Oops!” the firm removed all offending “features.” In this particular case, at least, the consumers won. So how are consumers faring as another tech giant, Adobe, circles the wagons to manage its own PR fiasco? How goes the four-month-long-and-counting kerfuffle over the “cloudification” of its Creative Suite?
A brief recap: In May, the firm said that perpetual licensing for the software was kaput with CS6, and users would thenceforth subscribe to the firm’s Creative Cloud (CC). Today’s Adobe users—“presumptive subscribers” to Adobe’s way of thinking—include top pros using leading-edge render farms as well as everyday photo-tweakers, desktop publishers, and freelance graphic artists. They wasted no time dumping on the firm, even creating a Change.org petition that garnered over 34,000 signers. Complaints are not subsiding, as the rollout has not been smooth.
Costly Entry… and No Exit?
So how has Adobe reacted? Well, they haven’t changed much yet. Facebook postings by Greg Wilson, Adobe’s Director of Evangelism, claim the firm is “listening”—and perhaps so, but Wilson may have had his fill. Replying to one irate user, Wilson writes, “Keep the opinions coming [but] I just don’t want to hear the same opinion 20 times in a row.” There are various complaints, most dealing with the cost but plenty of others citing poor implementation—problems logging in from different computers, password failures, renamed Library folders, etc. The CC complaint that Adobe and Wilson may hear 20 or 120 times in a row, though, concerns the lack of a fair “exit strategy.”
In various scenarios, users run the risk of “orphaned output.” If you create documents in Photoshop CS6, and you own it, you are “safe” until the next upgrade. At that point, you must subscribe to CC or Adobe will pass you by. If you subscribe long enough for new versions to appear, and then cancel, you will have documents that you cannot open. But where can users go? GIMP? Pixelmator? It’s hard enough to find full-strength replacements for a single Adobe program, but many pros are stuck in a multi-program workflow with InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, etc. Right now, there is no easy answer—so I’ll stay on the job and keep you posted.