Are you ready to add Adobe software to your stack of monthly power, cable, and water bills? Announced in October, Adobe is offering an alternative to their typical software upgrade cycle -- instead of buying their forthcoming CS6 suite, you can sign up for Creative Cloud, launching "first half of 2012," for $49.99 a month. This will get you access to the forthcoming CS6 apps, their new Touch apps, and 20GB of cloud storage. They're also killing their old upgrade policy -- partially.

CS5 and CS5.5 will be upgrade-eligible for discount CS6 pricing, but older versions of Creative Suite will not UPDATE: Adobe has since instituted a CS3/CS4 upgrade policy. There are a couple of things going on here -- one is Adobe's attempt to thwart piraters, who likely make up the majority of Adobe's installed based worldwide. The second reason Adobe is moving to the Cloud is to integrate (and make indispensable) their online collaboration tools, like CS Live, which is complimentary until April. My guess is that Adobe will push Creative Cloud harder and harder as part of a long-term transition plan to get everyone to use not just their software but also their online extensions. If a SaaS-like model does not make sense for you, you can stick to the once-a-year (roughly) upgrade cycle, though once Adobe has moved to subscription software, they could even kill off the Creative Suite and just release apps as individual upgrades are available.

Also of note, Creative Cloud will include Lightroom 4, which comes with some vaunted video features this time around -- once it exits free beta status. It always seemed wrong to me that Adobe's $2,600 Master Collection lacked Lightroom...

Creative Cloud will launch alongside CS6 later this year, and will eventually include additional Adobe tools like Muse, Edge, Business Catalyst, Typekit, and Digital Publishing Suite. This is the beginning of a sea change in Adobe's upgrade and sales approach -- what do you think?

Link: Adobe Creative Cloud

[via The Verge]