Not so "free"

The year could have started off so quietly and then along comes Adobe and makes the lives of their own forum workers difficult with yet another miscommunication fuck-up. Yes, of course I’m talking about releasing the CS2 versions of some products in a version that doesn’t require any activation. We have known this since last November and it was naturally only a matter of time before some over-zealous Internet “journalist” would mis-construe this as Adobe giving away the software for free.

Sorry to disappoint the kids, but they are not. The fact of the matter still is that this measure was only taken to provide these old versions to users who still use them, which in most cases will be corporate environments still running machines with Windows XP, small companies who never upgrade their software, but buy fresh licenses every 10 years and likewise facilities that need to hang on to their old Mac Pros because it runs their super-expensive RIP software that’s tied to a dongle and won’t run on anything else. As someone not falling into any of those categories, should you even bother to download? The short answer is: No! Why?

  • The software will not run on any contemporary operating system without a lot of manual intervention for simple compatibility reasons. Trying to get any of this to run on Windows 8 for instance could be nerve wrecking.
  • Even if you get it to run you still may have to accept that things like printing may not work at all due to massive under-the-hood changes in that area or that all your nice images from your digital camera need to be converted using other means because Camera Raw is not included and wouldn’t support your model, anyway, given that this is dependent on specific support for each camera model.
  • If you’re looking for cheap or free software because you can’t afford anything else, you can be much happier elsewhere these days. In those 7 years since CS2 has been released a lot has happened. GIMP has evolved considerably, Inkscape or the recently freed Expression Design do some pretty decent job at vector drawing and beyond that there is tons of other tools in the budget range that can do many specialized jobs as good as Adobe‘s apps or sometimes even better.
  • Exchanging files with others would be a problem. Yes, those old files will open in current versions as well, but they will be converted, so text may not be editable, colors change and all sorts of other issues.

So as you see, even for rational technical reasons it would not be worth the trouble – assuming Adobe were so generous to provide this to everyone, which they aren’t. Personally I can’t even remember having used those versions much way back then, which shows how old this stuff is. So if you were planning on downloading, reconsider and make up your mind whether something as affordable as a Creative Cloud subscription is a more painless path to happiness. If you still do download the old versions, do all those people on forums a favor and read all the info correctly before plastering the place with the 100th redundant post…

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