What could be better than free software? Well, a lot of things I guess, but I've never known anyone that would turn down an offer for free software (even when the legality of said free software is questionable). Some of you may have been following the news on the internet yesterday, but the Adobe site had been down for quite some time, so I've been waiting for the dust to settle a bit. The situation is not actually as obvious as it may seem at first glance, and it's taken a little investigation to get to the bottom of why Adobe would release an older version of Creative Suite for free online.
Here is the situation and the official response from Adobe in their forum:
Effective December 13, Adobe disabled the activation server for CS2 products and Acrobat 7 because of a technical glitch. These products were released over 7 years ago and do not run on many modern operating systems. But to ensure that any customers activating those old versions can continue to use their software, we issued a serial number directly to those customers. While this might be interpreted as Adobe giving away software for free, we did it to help our customers.
A response from Dov Issacs in that same forum:
On behalf of Adobe Systems Incorporated ...
You have heard wrong! Adobe is absolutely not providing free copies of CS2!
What is true is that Adobe is terminating the activation servers for CS2 and that for existing licensed users of CS2 who need to reinstall their software, copies of CS2 that don't require activation but do require valid serial numbers are available. (Special serial numbers are provided on the page for each product download.) See <http://forums.adobe.com/thread/1114930>.
You are only legally entitled to download and install with that serial number if you have a valid license to the product!
So Adobe isn't quite being Santa Claus during this holiday season after all. The official response from the company is pretty clear, though it could have been a perfect opportunity to gain some free goodwill among consumers. Their reasoning for releasing CS2 free online -- a program that was released in 2005 -- makes perfect sense, as keeping up activations for a piece of software that they no longer sell and is 4 versions old seems like a waste of time. It would be like Apple still supporting Final Cut 5, when we're already three versions past that.
Some had reported that an Adobe ID was necessary, but right now the software for both Windows and OSX is available to download with serials right on their website. In recent memory I don't know that I've seen any company of this size put an older piece of software online with serials and tell consumers they should only be downloading if they actually own the software (but that they're not going to stop you even if you don't). It could very well be that as a company policy they would never admit to giving away free software, but there are very easy solutions to protect the programs so that only actual users of the software could obtain it directly from their website.
There is another big catch though, especially if you're a Mac user: it's made to run on Mac OSX 10.2.8 -- 10.3.8 with a PowerPC G4 or G5 processor, and Windows 2000 or Windows XP. People have reported that they've been running it fine on newer versions of Windows, but if you're on a Mac, it's not going to run natively unless you're on a PowerPC, and Apple no longer supports their Rosetta PowerPC emulation software in OSX 10.7 (Lion) or later. If you are running an earlier version of OSX, you should be in luck, even if you're on Intel, but I can't confirm which versions it will run on or how well it will work. You should also keep in mind that even though every program in the Creative Suite is included (including Premiere and Photoshop), this software is very old, and it may not work with every codec or file format you need it to.
So there you have it, you can download the software from Adobe completely free and legal assuming you already own it, but if you don't, they're not exactly stopping you from using it.