I’m not the first to have a rant about this, and I’m sure I won’t be the last, unless someone at Adobe wakes up, smells the coffee, gets a clue, puts their head in gear rather than in the dark location it appears to be in at present, and actually changes something.
What’s my problem? Photoshop, that’s what. As I might have mentioned, I have a paid-for, genuine licence for Photoshop CS3. It’s an extremely powerful piece of software, and I certainly don’t use it to anything like its full capacity, but I know how to work the bits I need, and I know how to find out how to do more when I need to do that. Since I started using Lightroom, I find that I’m using Photoshop somewhat less, but there are some things Lightroom wasn’t built to do, and for which a fancier package with all the nice stuff like layer masks (and indeed layers themselves) is what I need to get the result I want. Lightroom even has the helpful feature of linking to Photoshop – right click on an image, select the “Edit in Photoshop CS3” option, and away you go. When you save your work in Photoshop, you can go back to Lightroom and your edited image will be waiting for you to finish off – resize, export, print, whatever. Lovely. Well, it is on my Windows PC. On the Mac, it’s a slightly different story.
Lightroom comes with what I would have to call a “sensible” licence. Like Photoshop. you’re allowed to install it on up to two computers, provided you don’t run it on both at the same time. This is great – you can have it on your main computer and a laptop, or a home computer and an office computer. This makes life easier for everyone, and is a Good Thing. But the big difference is that Lightroom’s licence is “cross-platform”. This means that the two computers can be both Windows, both Macs, or one of each. The disk that comes in the box is dual format (not that this matters, as the whole application can be downloaded and activated so long as you have a valid licence code), and the licence key will work on either platform. This is great for me, as it’s allowing me to use the Mac for working on my photos, so I’m doing actual work rather than just randomly fiddling with the thing. The only problem is that I can’t run my legal, paid for Photoshop on the Mac.
That’s right. While the Photoshop licence allows installation on two machines, they have to be both Macs or both Windows. Now a few years ago, this wasn’t such a big deal – people tended to be firmly in one camp or the other. But things are different now. Apple’s portable computers are selling in huge numbers, and lots of formerly hard-core Windows people are either switching to Mac, or (like me) at least evaluating the possibility. And there are people with a Windows desktop and an Apple notebook who would love to be able to run their legitimate, paid-for software on both. This seems like a reasonable request to me. Other software companies in similar areas (such as Quark, best known for DTP) allow this. Adobe’s own Lightroom allows this. But Photoshop and the other CS3 applications do not.
Adobe will, if you ask nicely, manage to find out how, and produce all the evidence they require, pay a small fee, and promise to destroy your existing software, transfer a Windows licence to a Mac licence (or even vice-versa). But this isn’t what I, and quite a few other people, judging by what I’ve seen on Adobe’s forums, want. I want to be able to run the software I’ve paid for on either of the computers that I use for that kind of thing. The last comment I saw from Adobe was that they were considering this, but it wasn’t going to happen for this version.
I’ve been trying to work out why they take this line, and I’ve come up with a few possibilities:
- To restrict piracy
- To keep down the number of disks in the box
- To make more money
- Err, that’s it, really
None of these really make a lot of sense. The piracy angle can’t be one they really take seriously. People who want to rip off Photoshop can and will do so. This only restricts the behaviour of their honest customers. You know, the people who buy their software and buy upgrades every year or two. As to the disks, most software comes on DVD now, which means that most applications could come on dual-format disks. And there would be a huge saving in having to produce only one set of retail packaging rather than two. So maybe it’s the money thing. Everyone who wants to run Photoshop on both formats will buy two full licences. Or not. It seems to me that this will lead to more people looking to circumvent the licence restrictions, or looking to alternatives to Photoshop.
While I do understand and respect the need for software companies to protect their property from illegal copying, I am growing increasingly tired of the practice of making things hard for honest users (either individuals or businesses) to use what they’ve paid for. Whether it’s product activation, or Microsoft’s idiotic “Windows Genuine Advantage” nonsense, which insists on repeatedly checking that my copy of XP is a legal one, it all just slows things down and causes problems when the checking procedures fail, which they inevitably do from time to time. Meanwhile, people with hacked pirate software carry on without interference.
Well, maybe they’ll sort themselves out in time for the next version…
 Not to mention avoiding the problem of customers accidentally buying the wrong box..
 Checking once, at the time of initial activation, I can tolerate. Checking again is intrusive, pointless and bloody annoying