The pro versions of Photoshop (and the rest of Adobe’s Creative Suite) have always had a steep admission fee. In some cases, we’re talking thousands of dollars. Makes sense for big companies, but those costs put a bigger strain on self-employed pros and smaller indie operations. So it makes sense that Adobe’s Creative Cloud – which lets you rent these apps for a monthly fee – has been such a big hit. In fact, it’s done well enough that Adobe is closing the door on its retail Creative Suite apps, putting its full weight behind subscriptions.

So CS6 will be the last of the Creative Suite series. From now on, it’s all “CC.” Adobe will still sell CS6, and owners of the retail version will still get bug fixes. But no CS7, and no more major updates. Now it’s all about the cloud.

Of course, in this case “the cloud” really means “cloud-based licensing.” Pay Adobe, and get a temporary registration that activates the software for as long as you keep paying. Sure, there are some cloud storage and syncing bonuses, but – let’s be honest – the Creative Cloud is mostly about attracting customers who don’t want to pay a huge lump sum.

Previously, many of those customers had turned to piracy. Photoshop has consistently been one of the most pirated PC apps. Adobe talks up Creative Cloud’s features, but, from a business perspective, it's more about dangling a lower-cost carrot for potential pirates.

Apparently it works. In the year since Adobe started offering Creative Cloud, the company signed up over half a million paid users, and over two million free users. Considering the Creative Cloud’s monthly costs (starting at US$20 monthly for one app), those numbers aren’t too shabby.

New Photoshop

Even if the shift to the cloud was inevitable, it’s sure to tick off some long-time Adobe customers. So, maybe to help ease the pain, Adobe dangled an upcoming new version of Photoshop that will be dropping this June.

The long-teased Camera Shake Reduction Tool will be showing up in the update. Adobe showed it off in some of the early CS6 demos, but it wasn’t ready for its public release last year. It uses advanced algorithms to remove image blur caused by unsteady hands.

There’s also an improved Smart Sharpen tool, which will reduce noise and avoid ugly halos while sharpening those pics. There is also a new Advanced Healing brush that lets you do some content-aware healing with a brush stroke, as opposed to just a circle.

Oh, and remember Photoshop Extended? It is no more. Adobe is unifying all of the new CC features into one app. So no more comparing versions, trying to decide if Extended is worth the extra cost. Just sign up, pay your monthly fee, and enjoy the full Photoshop experience.

Existing CC subscribers will get all the new features in June. Owners of CS6 retail can also get some nice discounted pricing on the subscriptions model. You can hit up Adobe’s press releases below to get the full scoop.

Sources: Adobe [1] [2]