Non-Zombie: Adobe, stop treating your paying customers like criminals

Excuse the interruption, but I have a small rant to get out of the way.  Today, for the sixth time in two years, I found myself reinstalling Adobe's Creative Suite.  For those of you more familiar with the finer points of zombie decapitation than pushing pixels, I'll explain. 

Adobe Creative Suite is a software package for professional use typically including Photoshop, Illustrator and other software to edit images, manage html code, edit video or create flash animations.  It's great professional software and it is priced accordingly.  The costs range from about $1500.00 up to $2500.00 depending upon the package you choose.  New versions are released about every 18 months and upgrades are priced at $400.00 - $800.00.

So, nice software, priced for professionals, and I'm happy to pay them for their hard work.  As a matter of fact I've been paying them for their hard work across 8 versions of their software.  Add it up, carry the three... ok, so I'm not good at math.  Let's just say lots of money over the years for various versions of their software.

The problem is that about three versions ago, Adobe realized that most of their installed user base "aquired" their software through sites such as The Pirate Bay.  They were losing millions of dollars in revenue to pirated software and needed to do something about it.  Product activation to the rescue. 

Adobe came up with a system to verify that the software is legally installed every time it is started.  Again, good for them.  I want the talented, hard-working Adobe employees to get paid for their work and I want Adobe to have the funds to continue development of their software.

Unfortunately, the only time I usually need to re-install Creative Suite is when I've had a problem with my computer.  The hard drive crashes or a motherboard is fried.  Generally this means that I can no longer run Creative Suite because the hardware no longer works.  The only way to deactivate an Adobe license is to run the software and choose "deactivate" from the help menu inside the program.  But of course I can't start the program to deactivate the software and do a new installation because the original hardware doesn't work.  Vicious cycle -- it now becomes clear why fighting zombies is a necessary hobby.

OK.  Old computer is not accessible.  I've installed Creative Suite on new hardware.  Stomach knots up because I know what is coming when I start Photoshop... and there it is: a popup that says "Pardon the interruption, but we've decided to stop your workflow for a bit because we just don't trust you."  Well, it doesn't exactly use those words but that's the general idea.

This screen displays a cryptic 12 digit number and gives you exactly three options:

1.  "I've deactivated the software on my old computer and want to activate it on this one"

2.  "I'm ready to buy a new license"

3.  "I want to use this for 30 days as a trial"

Adobe's solution is apparently to hope you will buy a new license.  There's no mention of how you can manage old activations.  There's no phone number or support email listed.  There is a link labeled "Learn about software activation" which will eventually take you to a page which lists a phone number you can call to beg for a new activation.

How about a fourth option of "Manage my existing software activations"?  Since I've already registered the software and have an Adobe user account why can't I just log in, see a list of machines I've installed the software on and deactivate the old, non-working hardware?

I've had installations of Photoshop stop working because they suffered a corruption of the activation key.  The software had been installed and running for months, but one day Photoshop decided it needed a vacation and stopped working.  Guess what?  You can't deactivate that computer either because you can't start the program. 

I know that software piracy is a controversial topic and I'm not going to impose my beliefs on others.  I think people should be compensated for their work and I will pay for their product.  Others argue that Photoshop is only popular as a professional tool because it was so widely pirated.  The claim is that most people who illegally acquire software would never have bought it in the first place so no sales are lost.  They go on to say that many people who learned how to use pirated software eventually get jobs that require that software and influence their company to buy more copies. 

Fair enough-- the argument is probably at least partially valid.  But these same people who pirate Adobe software, easily bypassing Adobe's copy protection scheme and not  paying a dime, are never hit with the inconvenience of failed software activation.  Most of the people who have their work day stopped are paying customers.  The paying customers deserve to be treated better than the criminals.

Everything above was written while I was on hold waiting for an Adobe agent to allow me to run my legally licensed software.  25 minutes on hold.  When I mentioned this to the customer service agent he became very angry and said that I wasn't on hold, I was "in the queue".  I asked if he could pass on a suggestion of allowing customers to manage their own machine activations online for future versions of Creative Suite.  He angrily told me that it can't be done and that I had agreed to a software license that allows Adobe to refuse to activate their software (little bit of an implied threat there).  The ferocity of his response tells me that I'm not the first to complain.  I'm guessing his job really sucks.

(On a related note: Hey Apple--ditto for iTunes.)

Comments (10) Add Comment
Rudolf

use the gimp, its open source, no activation hassle, and yes: its free.



http://www.gimp.org/

The following list is a short overview of some of the features and capabilities which GIMP offers you:

*

A full suite of painting tools including brushes, a pencil, an airbrush, cloning, etc.
*

Tile-based memory management, so image size is limited only by available disk space
*

Sub-pixel sampling for all paint tools for high-quality anti-aliasing
*

Full Alpha channel support for working with transparency
*

Layers and channels
*

A procedural database for calling internal GIMP functions from external programs, such as Script-Fu
*

Advanced scripting capabilities
*

Multiple undo/redo (limited only by disk space)
*

Transformation tools including rotate, scale, shear and flip
*

Support for a wide range of file formats, including GIF, JPEG, PNG, XPM, TIFF, TGA, MPEG, PS, PDF, PCX, BMP and many others
*

Selection tools, including rectangle, ellipse, free, fuzzy, bezier and intelligent scissors
*

Plug-ins that allow for the easy addition of new file formats and new effect filters.




Rudolf

Use the Gimp, Open source, free, no hassle, no activation shlitzka

http://www.gimp.org/

The following list is a short overview of some of the features and capabilities which GIMP offers you:

*

A full suite of painting tools including brushes, a pencil, an airbrush, cloning, etc.
*

Tile-based memory management, so image size is limited only by available disk space
*

Sub-pixel sampling for all paint tools for high-quality anti-aliasing
*

Full Alpha channel support for working with transparency
*

Layers and channels
*

A procedural database for calling internal GIMP functions from external programs, such as Script-Fu
*

Advanced scripting capabilities
*

Multiple undo/redo (limited only by disk space)
*

Transformation tools including rotate, scale, shear and flip
*

Support for a wide range of file formats, including GIF, JPEG, PNG, XPM, TIFF, TGA, MPEG, PS, PDF, PCX, BMP and many others
*

Selection tools, including rectangle, ellipse, free, fuzzy, bezier and intelligent scissors
*

Plug-ins that allow for the easy addition of new file formats and new effect filters.




Bruce Kahn

Had the same thing, computer went down. I emailed Adobe to ask what was going to happen when I reinstalled, would that use my second license, or would I still have that for a second computer? Days went by, I didn't hear from them, so I went ahead and reinstalled. Later they sent an email saying no problem, I still had one license. I have no idea whether they meant I was using my second license, or still had one left. went to my account online after my reinstall, it said I had one license (remaining? Total? who knows...), so I'm hoping I'm ok.
PS- no, I'm not human (see www.brucekahn.net/zombies.htm, but can read and type the words below.


Stefan

The ultimate irony here is that you won't have these problems if you download the pirated version.

Classic example of a company treating their customers like criminals and having no effect on the piracy problem. :(


Martin

I usually end up calling customer support since it's the quickest way. They'll list the computers you have it installed on according to their systems (I don't quite remember how much info they have, could be just an installation date) and then you can pick the one you want to deactivate. Presto - reinstall will work as normal. I've had to do it about three times now and it's five minutes work.


Charlie Coppinger

Well, I'm afraid that problems like these will not get solved as fast as they should do, and you have made me feel bad for, adminitdely, having a pirated version of Photoshop myself but as I am a student and would have to choose between Photoshop or a car there wasnt much sleep lost.

I hope this gets resolved fast, and if it doesnt then feel free to go ahead and register www.adobeareconartists.com!

www.zarmbie.com


Nerd42

Why do you think Adobe's products are so widely pirated?

I once worked for a company that had regular hard drive crashes (one or two a year) due to unavoidable dust on the work environment, and we ran out of activations, and Adobe basically told us, "Better luck next time." Not those words of course - the words were, "Perhaps you would like to purchase another liscense?" and my response was, "Will it be different from the liscense I already have?" "No." "Then, no, I hope my company never buys one of your liscenses again. Goodbye." Click. I thought about mumbling into the phone, "http ... colon slash slash ... pirate bay ... dot ... how does that address go again? ... oh yeah dot org yeah ... ok now "Adobbe ... creative ... suite" like I was actually typing it in, while on the phone with an Adobe customer service rep who'd just told me they'd just stolen my company's license.

It was a small business. Couldn't afford another license, that's absurd. We started running pirated software and never had any such problems ever again!


Bryan, J.D.

I've been reading up on Adobe's activation scheme. According to some, it records data on a portion of the hard drive that is not typically accessible to users and that may well be unaffected by normal formatting. I therefore assume it is recorded in a similar way to the way that the drive partition information is recorded.

In any event, Adobe is certainly the object of much deserved ire with regard to their ridiculous Nazi approach to software activation. Did you know that Adobe can remotely deactivate your software? Think about that for a moment. How invasive must their content protection software be if they are able to do that without any input from your end as the end user?

I’m surprised I reached technical support to hear a modern-day Indian accent rather than a 1930s German accent. God forbid I tell them I have some Jewish friends. I might never have my legitimately purchased software properly activated!

If they are going to continue acting like greedy thieves, I will likely stop lining their pockets and merely make use of other solutions. Corel makes a decent alternative for most uses that is infinitely less expensive. Check out CorelDraw Graphics Suite X5. It is very competitive and offers programs designed for both vector and non-vector image editing, just as does Adobe Creative Suite.


Mike Gambino

It's true. I have my own license, and I have the CS4 master collection, and I'm trying to figure out if I want to get CS5.

I had issues with it before, because I had a license, and apparently, my friend uninstalled the program because he was being an idiot, and it cost me a fortune to get this software. I am ok, because I got the software back on my computer and running like normal.

Also, the pirate bay, there's a command prompt file that you run in administrator mode that blocks activation, and there's a keygen program that you use to get keys to activate the programs. I know, because I wanted to try for a while before buying, and of course, I bought it when I got the money, and I reloaded my machine.

But, they should make the programs where if it doesn't hear back from the main server with a valid response, that it should close the program without you knowing what the issue is, because that is blocking activation information, and it shouldn't let you do that.

I made websites of my own, and I used to have a company that made websites for other companies. I killed the company, because I no longer wanted this big building we had, and I wanted to have the company for myself once I release my unfinished scripts for sure. I have been waiting for the best time to release them so I can make a commission for selling them, and I have my buddy with me that use to work with me, and he still sort of does, that he will get a cut, since he was with me before inclining my company to a building company.

I'm running both dreamweaver, fireworks, photoshop, and premier pro on my computer all at once, because I'm doing something for another company that I have 3 months to complete. It's going to take more than 3 months, and I haven't had 2 days of sleep. I'm getting paid $5,000/month to do this from this company, and they do check weekly to see my work so I get paid every week. What ever is completed best, they pay me for it. If I don't do anything since last check, they skip pay day, and they warn me. If I get 3 strikes, I get fired, and they take what ever I did and hand it over to another company that can do all that stuff.

Long story short, I paid for this program, I have a degree in web design, and IT, and I have to do my job in order for me to get paid. I still have a loan to pay off and a car to fix.


Leonel

Since I wanted to downgrade a Windows OS version, and have been informed that it would require a new license (WTF?), I never used legal licenses again.

It is nonsense. One should just have a receipt for a license in case there is an auditing or inspection. One can never win, so, why bother?



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