|A grey day for post-processing?|
There are definite hints in this DPReview piece that the Creative Cloud version might have more features and flexibility than the stand-alone product, and it seems an obvious business model for Adobe to set up the CC service, then start to offer a stand-alone Lightroom subscription and then start to drop features off the buy-once program. Features like new camera support, bug updates and indeed new versions of the program seem like good candidates to encourage photographers to subscribe. Adobe itself have said that this isn't in their plans for the 'foreseeable future' but have't said 'never'.
From Adobe's viewpoint this cloud-based software sales model has some really significant benefits. They get regular monthly cash-flow instead of big lumps of money whenever a new version is launched (since the versions of the software will be continuously updated rather than being re-launched each time the product is developed), and they also cut down on the cost of piracy.
For a program like CS/Photoshop, this isn't such a huge problem. Whilst not as well featured, programs like GIMP offer many of the same tools that Photoshop does, albeit a little behind the curve, also, the one-image-at-a-time nature of this sort of program means that you aren't going to have any problems with cross-platform compatibility. But users of Lightroom will know that this, non-destructive editing program is all about the catalogue.
Lightroom's catalogue is the place where the program remembers all the little tweaks and nudges you've made to you image files. It only physically applies those alterations to the files you export, not the original ones, so all those hours spent working on images could be wasted if you can no longer access Lightroom, which is exactly what is going to happen to CC users when you are no longer stumping up your monthly subscription fee.
I, and countless others if the backlash amongst photogs about this move is anything to go by, might be wrong about all this but this model is also being adopted in other software manufacturers too, including Microsoft who are yet to announce how the new 'fixed' version of Windows 8 will be launched. This move to subscriptions is particularly bad news for users in the UK. With anything either photographic or software based we always seem to get a bad deal - the initial Windows 8 upgrade cost 15 US dollars or 15 Euros for instance (and at the time the values were roughly equivalent) but it also cost £15, about a third more expensive in relative terms. The same is true of cameras and lenses and no doubt will be with CC. Maybe it's the higher cost of electrons in the UK?
For myself, I'm going to start looking for some free alternatives to Lightroom sooner rather than later. Rawtherapee is my first port of call. I'll report back when I have some conclusions...I hate learning new software...