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Adobe Punishes Customers With "Vista Tax"

Adobeversusmicrosoft For those of you that questioned my assertion that many Adobe products will not work or be supported on Windows Vista, CNET and Information Week reported this today:

Adobe to CS2 users: Want Vista? Upgrade
Adobe Has No Plans To Make Current Products Windows Vista Compatible

While some people might find the following statement amusing:

"Another reason is, how many customers are really on Vista in the installed base, and is it worth the work, especially in the creative customers? And we have no desire to really showcase Microsoft's technology," Chizen said.

I personally find that sort of statement to be offensive and anti-customer. Why? Adobe Creative Suite cost customers a thousand-plus dollars per copy, while Acrobat, Photoshop (fill in the product blank) customers paid hundreds per copy. Now, if customers want to to use Windows Vista - whether via upgrade or new machine - along with current Adobe software (not just older versions) they must upgrade (translation: spend thousands more). Products  like Creative Suite, Photoshop, InDesign, and Dreamweaver must all be upgraded to the new - yet unreleased - version.

Moreover, if a customer does upgrade, they will be purchasing a product that does not even take full advantage of Vista:

Adobe CEO Bruce Chizen said Creative Suite 3 will not fully take advantage of the graphics capabilities in Vista, in part because of the uncertainty of Vista's shipping date.

While no one can argue with a straight face about Vista being on time, it is also very difficult to believe Adobe did not have adequate time to prepare their software (like many others have – look at Acrobat versus the free alternatives). But as the Adobe CEO stated, they apparently “have no desire to really showcase Microsoft's technology”. Is that a pro-customer statement? I would argue Adobe is forgetting who the customer is, i.e. who pays the bills, in order to fight Microsoft. Do not punish your customer because you do not like Microsoft. In the end, I do not see this as hurting anyone other than Adobe.

Even more galling is that upgrade-path products like Acrobat 8 are not even Vista compatible yet (as I noted in the PDF Power Pack post, it will be patched sometime in the first half of 2007). Where is the customer left? In the lurch (that is unless they choose alternatives that – if we were to believe Adobe – were able to do the unthinkable magic of providing Vista compatibility). We see the value Adobe CEO Bruce Chizen places on Windows Vista users by stating, “how many customers are really on Vista in the installed base, and is it worth the work, especially in the creative customers?” This of course ignores any future migration to Vista (remember – we are talking about many current products – not generations old versions).

For the record, I know of many, many developers that use Photoshop, Dreamweaver and Acrobat – they also use Windows. While it is true that many designers are Mac users, a lot of SMBs, home users, developers and others use Adobe products for photo-editing, web site design, PDF creation and more. These same people (myself included) do not like the idea that a multi-thousands of dollar penalty must be paid in order to receive decent OS level compatibility… especially when a large percentage of companies do or will be providing patches for free. Seriously, you have to ask yourself why freeware  and low-cost competitors like Corel provide patches (and Vista guarantees) while Adobe refuses? Do you like the answer? I don’t. Is it really because most of the customers of all of these products use Apples? If that were true, given the market share, how does Adobe make any money?

The funny thing is, I am excited by some of the things Adobe has in the pipeline, such as Apollo; but statements (and actions) like those above do not create goodwill. In discussing all of this with others, what I am hearing is suspicion and aggravation… with the common theme being that Adobe is not so much concerned about their customers or creating great solutions, as they are with sticking it to Microsoft.

It seems to me that the knight falling in the image above represents the Adobe customer.

Benjamin Bach
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