Quick! What's the most commonly pirated PC application?
If you said "Microsoft Word," you might be right. But "Adobe Photoshop" wouldn't be wrong either. And despite Adobe's best efforts to the contrary, that isn't going to change any time soon.
Within a day or two of the debut of Adobe's new software subscription service earlier this week, cracked versions of Photoshop and other Adobe applications appeared on the notorious file-sharing site The Pirate Bay.
Psst! Want an installation disk?
It's not as if Adobe didn't see this coming. Millions of consumers and professionals have been installing cracked or duplicate versions of Photoshop, along with its accompanying Adobe creative applications, on their PCs and Macs for more than two decades.
The reasons are simple: Adobe applications cost a lot, and they're the best at what they do.
While there are several good inexpensive, or even free, replacements for Word and the entire Microsoft Office suite, there's still no fully satisfying substitute for Photoshop, which costs a whopping $700 at retail.
To deter piracy, Adobe makes its installation disks "phone home" via the Internet to verify themselves. But software crackers have figured out how to isolate and remove the component that pings Adobe servers.
So the company is moving to a cloud-based subscription model. Disk-based installation of Photoshop and the rest of the dozen-odd Adobe Creative Suite applications (the full package goes for $2,500) is being completely phased out.
In the near future, only people who pay $20 per month for a single application, or $50 per month for the entire Creative Suite, will be able to install and upgrade Adobe software over the Internet. (Adobe's offerings are targeted at professionals, who can tolerate such high prices as the cost of doing business.)
Pirates 1, Adobe 0
Adobe Creative Cloud, as the new subscription model is called, became available earlier this week along with new editions of each Adobe application.
Within a day or two, the photo-editing blog PetaPixel noted that BitTorrent seeds for ostensibly cracked versions of the Creative Cloud versions of Adobe products had appeared on The Pirate Bay — including Photoshop, the Web-design application Dreamweaver and the vector-based drawing application Illustrator.
As of this writing on Friday, Creative Cloud editions of Adobe Premiere (video editing), Flash Professional (Web apps), After Effects (video effects) and, briefly, the entire Creative Suite for Mac, also appeared in Pirate Bay search results.
A request for comment from Adobe was not immediately returned.
Despite the apparent availability of cracked Adobe applications online, it's probably not a good idea to install them. You don't know which files contain malware or spyware.
If you do choose to go that route — and we don't advocate that you do — make sure you scan each and every pirated, cracked or copied installer or file you download with a malware scanner before you run or open it. You'd also better have a robust anti-virus software product already installed.
Alternatively, you could also consider legally buying Adobe Photoshop Elements, a stripped-down version of Photoshop that does almost everything a non-professional user might need. It's only $100, with steep discounts available at some online retailers.
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