Expiring Licenses

Sanjeev Biswas and Kanika Dalmia are two core engineers in the licensing domain at Adobe. They write below about one of the common customer service calls and what we’re doing to fix it longer term. — Eric
The handling of license expiry in Adobe CS4 has been one of the highest customer calls generator for Adobe, with anxious customers calling in to find the way out of this dead-end.
This ‘License Expiry’ screen is all too familiar to many of us
LicensingExpiredCS5.jpg
In CS4, “License Expired. Licensing for this product has expired” was displayed to the user if either the software build had expired or if the serial number used to license the application had exhausted its validity and had expired. This was a hard-stop and it prevented the user from running the application again. In particular, the user of expiring serial numbers had no direct way to resolve the license expired state and renew his license with another serial number. This situation becomes more complicated when other Adobe applications / suites are installed and licensed on the machine. The user was blocked on this and ended up ringing customer support.
There has been a workaround to the License Expiry issue, wherein the user had to manually roll back the system clock by a few days to re-launch the application, and then deactivate the license with the “Help-> Deactivate” option with erase serial number preference set. This would remove the expired license and the corresponding serial number from the user system. So when the user resets the system date back, on subsequent application launch the user is presented the user interface to enter a new serial number.
In CS4 handling of license expiry, the user wasn’t reminded that the product’s license is about to be expired and also, the user was not given an opportunity to renew his license with a new serial number. The user was bound to use the workaround, to be able to run the application.
In our next version, the design of the license expiry workflow has been altered to effectively tackle all the issues in CS4 handling of license expiry.
In our next version, when the product is launched the check for license expiry is performed. If the serial number associated with the license has expired, the user would not be displayed a hard-stop alert as was done in CS4. Instead, the module responsible for licensing of the product would bring up a user interface. This license expiry user interface screen would

  • Inform the user that the license in use has expired with an error message.
  • Additionally, it would provide an option to the user to enter a new serial number to renew his expired license.

This is like a ‘bonus launch’ of the product as the product is giving a bonus opportunity to the user to renew his expired license by entering a new serial number. This eliminates the need for previously used workarounds, to bring up the user interface (serialization screen) for entering an alternative serial number in case of license expiry.
If the user does not use the ‘bonus launch’ of the product to renew his license, then on every subsequent launch of the product, the license expiry user interface would be displayed, prompting the user to enter a new serial number.
With this design, the user would no longer be blocked on license expiry. Just a new serial number is to be procured and provided in the user interface, to continue to run the application seamlessly.
Improving the user experience for all adobe products is one of the principal design consideration for the next version of our licensing solution and, through this approach, we aim to do just that and thereby also reduce the volume of technical support calls.

102 Responses to Expiring Licenses

  1. Gil Burns says:

    Here’s a novel idea. Stop treating your paying customers like criminals and make your products work. It seems like Adobe spends more time and money trying to copy protect their products than they do on actually improving and fix them. I believe that the whole mess with your crappy installers also stems from this position as well.

  2. Herbert F. Weigelt says:

    I purchased Creative Suite CS4 one the 20th of Sept. 09 and ran into the “Licensing for this product has expired”. Then I discovered this site thinking “ah here’s the solution” but then discovered that there isn’t any information here that can currently help me…
    )= not good =(

  3. Eric Wilde says:

    Try this knowledge base article:
    http://kb2.adobe.com/cps/494/cpsid_49485.html
    If that doesn’t work, feel free to email me directly (ewilde@adobe.com) and I’ll set you up with a customer care representative.

  4. Thomas says:

    In our next version …
    Duh!

  5. Kai Howells says:

    This is a good idea, to allow the user to do something about the expired license rather than just quit and leave them at the desktop.
    One situation I’ve seen this error crop up, and it would be good if the apps could detect that this is the case and identify it appropriately, is if you are using Fast User Switching on Mac OS X.
    If you’re logged in as one user, and launch an Adobe app, and then switch to another user – if you then try to launch any Creative Suite app, you get this error.
    I’m assuming it’s because the licensing database is locked by the first user, but being told that the license has expired, rather than being given a more informative error message does cause some confusion.

  6. Roger says:

    How and why should a license expire?
    This worries my becuase I’ve read various reports that indicate that there is a 20 activation limit after which the license expires. I can’t understand the reasoning behind this. I frequently reinstall my OS every few months or so, so theoretically I will eventually make my copy of CS4 unusable?
    All of this seems like nonsense and it seems Adobe needs to be more transparent about these issues.
    As I said earlier, I don’t understand the reasoning behind this. Burdening your customers with these inconveniences only pushes people to pirate the software but on top of that it does nothing to stop pirates. People bent on stealing your software will continue to do so unabated while you annoy your paying customers to death.

  7. Eric Wilde says:

    Only specific licenses expire. For example, some public beta releases or prerelease builds have serial numbers that expire on specific dates. Also, event serial numbers (such as for press demo events) will also expire. Retail or volume serial numbers of a purchased product do not expire for any shipping Adobe products.
    This worries my becuase I’ve read various reports that indicate that there is a 20 activation limit after which the license expires. I can’t understand the reasoning behind this. I frequently reinstall my OS every few months or so, so theoretically I will eventually make my copy of CS4 unusable?
    This is a valid worry, although a different issue from expiring serial numbers.
    We do have a business rule that states there is a 20 time limit to the number of deactivations/reactivations any serial number can perform. So you may very well hit this limit. If you do, you can call customer care or visit the customer care web site to ask for an extension. Extensions are done on a case-by-case basis. Note that just restoring a disk image does not necessarily require a deactivation/reactivation. If the hardware is identical then you’ll likely be OK without a deactivation/reactivation.
    As I said earlier, I don’t understand the reasoning behind this. Burdening your customers with these inconveniences only pushes people to pirate the software but on top of that it does nothing to stop pirates. People bent on stealing your software will continue to do so unabated while you annoy your paying customers to death.
    There is a valid case to be made around not having activation at all. This is indeed a contentious issue. However, activation is shown to prevent casual piracy; which is our main goal with activation. We realize that hackers will break through just about any protection imaginable given enough desire and time.

  8. Mark Barber says:

    Just got the 6.0.4 InDesign update and although it seems to work fine on 10.5 mac’s the licensing breaks on 10.4. I really need this fixed as there are bunch of bugs that should be fixed in this that my users need (all 600 of them). Can you please assist

  9. Eric Wilde says:

    I’ll respond to you in email so that we can move more quickly.

  10. Jeff Vandehey says:

    I have seen a similar, but different problem. We have a volume license for our studio. Sometimes we will launch adobe apps and get a message saying “licensing has stopped working for this product”. Uninstall/Reinstall does nothing. I found that deleting /Library/Preferences/FLEXnet Publisher fixes the problem. Still painful that this comes up in the first place.

  11. Tracey says:

    I bought AI CS4 , I install it and I have an error message: “License for this product has expired”. Where can I get a new license?. I tried the way in this article
    http://kb2.adobe.com/cps/494/cpsid_49485.html
    but it doesn’t work at all.
    Please help! Thanks
    Tracey

  12. Robert Barnett says:

    Outside of making sure that someone isn’t buying one package of Photoshop or whatever and installing that on 50 different computers the number of times I install/uninstall or activate/deactivate a product that I paid for is not of your freaking business.
    There is absolutely not legitimate reason to have this limit other than you are indeed treating paying customers like crooks.
    If I want to sit down and spend the next 2 years of my life installing and uninstalling the copy of Photoshop CS4 that I just bought from Adobe.com that is my business not yours. Plain and simple.
    A time when come when people will get fed up with this a big enough stink will be raised and laws will be enacted to deal with this bull.
    I have no problem Adobe trying to minimize piracy. But this 20 install/uninstall/activate/deactivate limit does nothing for that. It only causes problems for paying customers.

  13. Eric Wilde says:

    Tracey, I’ll follow up with you in direct email.

    • Mary says:

      Eric – we have the same problem as Tracey whom you replied to in this thread. We have used the three allowable installations for Adobe Creative Suite 3 due to computer crashes, and now have found Adobe will only sell us an upgrade which we cannot afford. Can you help us understand how to bypass this issue so we can re-load the software we already own on our computer? We are a small, honest company. Please check our website. We are not trying to pirate this to anyone, just need to do our work! Any help you can offer would be appreciated! Thx – MBK

    • Tom Shaner says:

      Eric:
      I purchased Master Colleciton CS4 in December and have spent more than 15 hours with three different tech support personnel uninstalling, reinstalling, deactivating, reactivating, deleting files and I stilll have to set my clock back to 1-1-2010 in order to use any of the application except Bridge and Acrobat. Does anyone at Adobe know how to fix this? Case number 0181970182.

  14. Eric Wilde says:

    Robert,
    I agree with you. In fact, we’ve just completed the changes necessary to remove the deactivatoin limit for our upcoming products. Currently shipping products will still have the deactivation limit; but, starting with the next version of the Adobe Creative Suite there should be no deactivation limits.

  15. dilandinga says:

    5NrAGG I bookmarked this link. Thank you for good job!

  16. Robert Barnett says:

    That is very good to here. A good step in the right direction. It is important to strike a balance between preventing piracy and totally cheesing off your paying customers. You don’t want the paying ones to go pirate.

  17. Spot says:

    In fact, we’ve just completed the changes necessary to remove the deactivatoin limit for our upcoming products. Currently shipping products will still have the deactivation limit;
    So what about the existing CS4 versions? Do these users have to upgrade for thousands of Dollars to get the extension of the 20 activation cycles?
    Or will customer service reactivate any CS4, regardless of the number of activations in the past? (Which would still be an inconvenience, since you always have to contact customer service, but at least you cannot get stuck with a useless bunch of software not installable anymore)

  18. Spot says:

    Referencing my last post I have another question.
    Is the 20 activations limit coded on the customer’s side or on Adobe’s server side?
    What if I have got 25 activations in the past (20 normal and further 5 extended by customer service), but a totally clean and new Windows installation where I install CS4 for the 26. time?
    Will it activate or not?
    If it does, this wouldn’t be the best possible solution, but it would at least provide a method not to end up with worthless software after the maximum of activations.

  19. Eric Wilde says:

    The current 20 limit is on deactivations. So the 26th activation should work assuming you don’t already have 2 activations currently live.
    Also, due to the cost of testing we’ve limited the implementation to deactivations on future products. So removing the deactivation limit wouldn’t affect CS4 products. Not ideal, but a reality given the resources we have available on the team.

  20. Eric Wilde says:

    Also, you can interact with customer support online rather than making a phone call. You have to have registered your product, though:
    https://www.adobe.com/cfusion/support/index.cfm?event=membership&returnURL=%2Fcfusion%2Fsupport%2Findex%2Ecfm%3Fevent%3Dportal%26loc%3Den%5Fus&loc=en_us

  21. Spot says:

    Sorry, I don’t get it. If I have used up all activations/deactivations, how should it then be possible to further activate CS4?
    And how is customer support reacting in this case?
    Regarding the testing issue: Maybe the development team should first focus on already sold products rather than on new ones. There was a time in software development in the nineties where updates rather than upgrades were in the focus of developers and existing customers were seen as the real capital of a company…
    Anyway, thanks for your detailed answers!

  22. Zoe says:

    I posted about this on the Adobe forums almost a year ago, and it’s STILL not working? Incredible.
    I’ve had to uninstall and reinstall twice now, and in March when I called Customer Support about this they refused to help me – I bought CS3 in August 2008, and their (quite snarky) answer was to upgrade! Hah! Some help!
    I paid almost $2000 for your product and they tell me six months later to upgrade? No updates work any longer for CS3, I get “Updater did not worked,” messages constantly – which is great, being insulted in bad English, no less – and the product is a year old. The license keeps “expiring,” and I have to do all sorts of crazy things to make it work again.
    And you know what? A friend of mine has a pirated copy – AND IT WORKS PERFECTLY.
    Thank god you’re not building houses, or cars, or heck, even computers, they’d fall apart after six months!
    I am seriously considering never buying your software again. Ever. I’ve been shoveling money into your company loyally for 12 years now, and I’m done. I might keep using the software illegally, but I’m not giving Adobe another cent until they wise up.

  23. Eric Wilde says:

    There are two limits with CS4 regarding activation.
    For retail serial numbers products are limited to two live activations at any one time. If you install and activate on two different machines, a third install is against the terms of the license agreement and we programatically prohibit the third activation (and further use of the product.)
    It is possible to deactivate a product on a system. That would reduce the number of live activations by one. You can then reactivate the product on the same or a different system, thus increasing the activation count again by one.
    There is another limit around the number of deactivations that can be done for the lifetime of the product. For CS4 that limit is 20. The previous comment made the entirely reasonable case that there really is no good business reason to have a deactivation limit of 20. For products going forward this deactivation limit has been removed entirely.

  24. Eoworide says:

    I bookmarked this link. Thank you for good job!,

  25. Leslie Taylor says:

    I’ve been enjoying my cs3 for 2 years now-only had 1 issue last winter that stumped even the tech- yesterday I worked with it for several hours, shut the computer down, went back that night to work on some more pictures and up popped “licensing for this product has stopped working” The comp is telling me to uninstalling and then reinstalling. Fine but the last time I uninstalled the program ( on a different computer) it screwed up Adobe Reader, and we can’t get it to work right to this day. I do not want that issue to pop up on this computer b/c then i’ll be in big trouble with my husband. Does anyone have any suggestions before a mrs becomes a miss ( hahah :)

  26. Leslie Taylor says:

    oh i also forgot to mention another person i know that uses adobe photoshop ( not cs3 though) said his stopped working as well yesterday.. concidence or something going on with adobe???

  27. Eric Wilde says:

    Leslie,
    We’ve been seeing this error for a number of years now and traced it to a third-party vendor component that was included in our software since CS3. We’ve found workarounds that are detailed in the following Knowledge Base articles:
    http://kb2.adobe.com/cps/401/kb401528.html
    Also, for the next version of the Adobe Creative Suite we have provided what we think is a permanent solution.

  28. William Smith says:

    How does one deactivate Photoshop CS4 on a PC after the hard drive with the OS on it dies?
    My 9 yr old HD had a boot issue. The shop reinstalled Win XP, I had to install all programs etc. That drive died a few months later and a different shop put in a new HD, reinstalled Win XP then I installed all programs etc.
    Now CS4 thinks it is the 3rd install & activation yet all 3 are on the same physical PC. I didn’t put CS4 on a different physical PC so I figured all was OK. In any case there was never an opportunity to deactivate since the program was in the bit bucket.
    Advice? Thanks in advance,
    Bill Smith

  29. Eric Wilde says:

    Bill,
    This is a serious weak point in our workflow today. Unfortunatly, the only way to resolve the situation is to log a customer support case. You can do that either by phone or, if you’ve registered the product, online here:
    http://www.adobe.com/support/contact/
    Click on “customer support portal”.
    We have a couple of long term solutions on the drawing board; but, won’t get to them for a little while due to focusing on higher priority problems.
    Thanks,
    –Eric

  30. William Smith says:

    Hi Eric,
    I contacted customer support thru 1-800-833-6687 and got the issue fixed in a matter of minutes and painlessly too.
    A big thanks to customer care and I owe someone a beer!
    Thanks,
    Bill

  31. James Carlyle says:

    I agree with many of the comments above…it seems like Adobe is treating its paying customers like the bandits they are supposedly trying to stop from illegally using their software.
    Unless you can seemlessly prevent illegal use without affecting the paying customers at all, this is a futile exercise.
    I was surprised to find out the 20 deactivation limit when my program stopped my from deactivating. I for one would like the option of endless activation and deactivation, so I can use my license wherever and whenever I need to, on my work computer, home computer, laptop, and lab computer. But I only have the option of using it on 2 of them now.
    And now you’re telling me the license can ‘expire’.
    Seems like the pirated versions are the only way around this problem…correct me if I’m wrong.

  32. Stacy says:

    HELP!!! I downloaded the trial ver of CS4…worked until I got the “License Has Expired” message…Went and BOUGHT the FULL version of CS4..came home, uninstalled previous version of trial…Installed from the CD…went through the steps…Registration etc…Go to open Photoshop and guess what??? I get the error message!!! Called customer service, got a new serial number…uninstalled reinstalled again…GUESS WHAT!! STILL CAN NOT USE THE PRODUCT!!!! It will open Bridge, but nor Photoshop…am I out $750.00 or what?? I NEED HELP!!!!!

  33. Paul says:

    I am gobsmacked at what I am reading.
    I have CS4 Design Premium. and have always been unhappy upon learning that I only have limited control of my activations. BIG money was paid for this software, yet Adobe could in theory stop me using it. I have never come across this practice with any of my software and I run a music and film/design studio setup -so run a lot of software.
    Now i learn that the limited automatic activtion is only going to be removed but ONLY for the next CS5version. THIS STINKS, and really P****es me off. I would have to pay adobe another £600 or so to get the right to eventually have total control of my software which I have legally paid for.
    Very poor customer service for existing users, and I dont buy the limited team resources nonesense. I have dealt with a lot of one man operations and they often work quickly to deal with software issues.
    This reeks of poor practice and money grabbing, and for something which sould’nt have been done in the first place. (I even wonder at the legality of it given the recent autodesk ruling on reselling software)
    This should be also available as an update for all existing cs4 customers.- it is a question of support Or has support for cs4 customers ended already, I thought that only happened when the next version is released. It seems software support only exists for a few months after release and then ceases as the team focuses all their attention on the next paid version.
    I have already pay double the US price and now Adobe are trying to screw me for more if I want to have full control of my software. (I just wish someone could challenge Adobe on this in court).
    An unhappy adobe customer.

  34. Eric Wilde says:

    Paul,
    We hear you and have actually been looking at what is feasible for removing the deactivation limit for existing products as well. We’re leaning that way; but, have to finish some of the technical investigations before committing.

  35. Tim says:

    Eric,
    I am glad to see your last statement here about removing the deactivation limit from current product lines. Frankly the deactivation limit conflicts with Adobe’s long standing perpetual license policy.
    I have been going around in circles via email with customer service/support regarding the deactivation question for 2 weeks now.
    Does the 20 deactivation limit currently apply to CS3 products as well as CS4.
    I ask as I am using Photoshop & Illustrator CS3 and wanted to test them in Windows 7 environment, but not at the “cost” of using up deactivations against my license.
    Since the Activations and Deactivations are basically Adobe server side, I certainly hope that the no limit on deactivations on existing CS4 and earlier products is implemented as soon as technically possible and widely announced to registered users.

  36. Eric Wilde says:

    Tim,
    The current deactivation limit applies to CS3 and CS4 products equally. It will be removed for all Adobe products as soon as we finish up the work on our side, including CS3 and CS4 and future versions.
    Can you test your deployments in Trial mode? All CS products except Acrobat on the Mac support Trial.

  37. Md.Mozaharul Haque says:

    cs photoshop 12 activation/licence number

  38. Mark Evans says:

    I purchased CS4 and installed it on my computer and my brothers computer with my license agreement stipulating I had 2 licenses. Fair enough. Anyways, we both upgrade our same PHYSICAL machines to Windows 7 and low and behold cs4 pops up with ‘Activations limit reched’. What is the go with this? I am installing it on the same physical machine yet it says my limit has been reached because we both installed windows 7 – is there a fix for this or is adobe getting me to fork out another 600 for its limitations.

  39. Eric Wilde says:

    Mark,
    There are a number of factors used to determine if the machine has changed or not. In general, I would expect the workflow you used to work. The best thing to do is contact customer care (either by phone or online), explain the situation and request two more activations. If you run into problems please do send me email directly: ewilde@adobe.com.

  40. Douglas Tufano says:

    I’ve done everything mentioned above regarding the “License Expiry” issue. Uninstalled the previous trial version, deleted the Adobe PCD file, set the computer clock back to May 31st and still get the same error. This is a joke, how does a paying customer get done in like this? I bet the pirate version works fine. Shall be moving on to the Final Cut Studio software.

  41. Raymond says:

    Eric,
    I am glad to hear that the deactivation limit will be removed not only from future products but also from the current products. I bought my CS4 Suite from hard earned/saved money and my CS4 suite is currently on my notebook and my desktop. I would love to upgrade to Win7 but I can’t due to the costs of 1 deactivation. My notebook (with discovery CD) should get reinstalled again. Windows VISTA is pure trouble, but I don’t want to lose another (de)activation point. I have no pirate copies whatsoever and do not support piracy, but being treated like a criminal and when you suddenly find yourself faced with a deactivation limit that wasn’t even known, then you don’t only find yourself in a state of fear; no, you suddenly begin to understand why many people choose piracy in the first place.
    I believe that it is more than fair that you can only install the software on 2 computers. The impression that I have, however, is that Adobe wants people to buy the product but if they could, they would even prohibit the use of it.
    But as I said in the beginning, if this deactivation limit will removed, then the only possible and only right step is made. Honest customers deserve that and nothing else.
    When will this deactivation issue be solved? Or better, where can one find more information about it?

  42. Eric Wilde says:

    Raymond,
    The removal of the deactivation limit is implemented and under certification testing right now. I expect it to go live within 2-3 months. Certification testing of this change is happening along with certification of a number of other changes and so will take some time to finalize. I should put up a post here when the change goes live.
    There is no other public forum where our future plans are laid out in detail. I’d actually really like to post a roadmap of our future work here; but, am a bit wary because that roadmap is subject to change without notice. I wish to avoid making promises and then not following through.

  43. Ben says:

    Hello
    I have CS3 and have gotten the terrible “license has stopped working message” I have tried EVERYTHING on the adobe website and I still get the message. Used the fixer, uninstalled, used the cleaner on level 3, and still get that. There is nothing i can do about this. Please help!
    I am using CS3 on a Mac, OS X 10.6.2
    I upgraded the Hard Drive, did a time machine backup, and it worked for a day. I go to start it up for my work, and poof it just wont work. I have wasted an entire day already!
    Not happy about this.

  44. Spot says:

    Eric,
    will the deactivation limit also be removed for some standalone products like Audition 3.0? Or is there no deactivation limit for Audition in the first place?

  45. Eric Wilde says:

    It should be for all activating shrink-wrap products from Adobe. So Audition should be covered as well.

  46. Eric Wilde says:

    Ben,
    Do you have a customer care case #? I’d like to take a look at the logs or some specifics of this case. Ultimately, we may be blocked by the 3rd party licensing solution used in CS3 (which we’ve removed for upcoming products); but, I’d like to get one of the core engineers to take a look at this issue in case we can work around it. Please contact me at my work email address (ewilde@adobe.com.)

  47. Nimesh says:

    Eric,
    there are some serious issues with your trials. I downloaded the Adobe Dreamweaver CS4 trial from your website today we are looking a dreamweaver as a solution for our company.
    i would say within 30seconds of the trial being installed, it has, and now 12hours later is still annoying myself and my IT team (seriously if you do not sort this out we will go with another provider.)
    the first time we installed it on the MAC book pro and then started up the application for the first time the very first message we saw was “”License Expired. Licensing for this product has expired” . CAN YOU TELL ME WHY THE HELL this would happen on the very first run of the application.
    we then searched the web for a solution, download the adobe CS clean up scripts ran those, and then reinstalled the trial… guess what, still the same error message.
    In the end we have had to reset the clock on the MAC back to 2007 and then the application comes back to life…. seriously this is a absolute JOKE… how can a trial freshly installed (downloaded from the ADOBE SITE) straight away have this error.
    i seriously need a answer as this is completely unacceptable.. and reading the posts above, ADOBE’s answer is for every person to put their hand s in their pockets and shell out more money on upgrades for a product that doesn’t start and has errors in the first place.
    ERIC what is the answer….

  48. Eric Wilde says:

    Nimesh,
    I’ll respond in email directly.

  49. Kelsey Kamrowski says:

    I just got Adobe Cs4 design premium, and Installed it.
    I tried opening it, and of course, licensing for this program has expired.
    Or however you put it.
    I set back my clock, and reopened them, and just got the terms of use. I said “I accept” but nothing after that.
    I had a trial version of Adobe Photoshop cs4, but I had uninstalled this before installing this program.
    This is seriously ridiculous. I have been waiting five years [this is how long I’ve done graphic design for fun] to afford your programs, and I finally got this for Christmas and it is failing me. I’m extremely frustrated and I have done everything. Clicked every link you have supplied on this page, and it’s just driving me absolutely insane.
    Should I uninstall, and reinstall, or what? I am so aggravated, and disappointed with adobe, and with this program. Cant you guys just fix this? We as paying customers should matter more than this stupid cs5, because guess what? cs5 ISNT OUT YET. So you’re getting your cash from CS4! So tend us first, please.

  50. Eric Wilde says:

    Kelsey,
    Have you tried:
    http://kb2.adobe.com/cps/494/cpsid_49485.html
    If so and you’re still experiencing this bug, please send me an email and I’ll get a core engineer to work with you right away. ewilde@adobe.com

  51. Dear Eric,
    It wasn’t until today telephone call to Customer Service here in Poland that I found about the (de)activation limit and frankly, it drove me nuts. I thought – ok guys, my work may be greatly dependent on your software but there is a limit and just tick me off the loyal customers’ list. No explicit notice on the box, no information before purchase that the software is like a yoghurt – cannot use after the sell-by date. I wouldn’t have bought it, take my word.
    However, with pressure risen to perilous level, I started searching the net and fortunately came across this blog. I guess we are both lucky – Adobe and its loyal clients who the company willy nilly is based on – to read your words “We have actually been looking at what is feasible for removing the deactivation limit for existing products as well. We’re leaning that way but, have to finish some of the technical investigations before committing”.
    Thanks Eric!
    Trust me, that would be a irreparable blow at Adobe’s reputation. Good they still have people who see to its future (i.e. customers)!

  52. Eric Wilde says:

    We’ve finished the implementation and testing tasks required to remove the deactivation limit. We’re now trying to schedule the date when the changes go live. Hopefully it will be very soon.

  53. “We’re now trying to schedule the date when the changes go live”
    You mean previous CS3 and CS4 as well?

  54. Eric Wilde says:

    You mean previous CS3 and CS4 as well?
    Yes.

  55. Atomic says:

    Gee maybe we shouldjust get and use “cracks” that disable the server checks that seemto cause this problem. We only need to update software if it doesn’t work, I mean if it’s not broke for an individual user why fix it right? Never had a problem with adobe products working just fine except for the stupid licenseexpired crap right out of the box. Prettysure if hackers can fix this problem within weeks to months of adobe releasing products, adobe’s own team can fix it as well. Enough of the BS excuses hey. Focusing on fixing the problemfor established customers, people who’ve already paid for their products seems like a better and common sense solution, than worrrying about an unreleased product. What time frame can current owners of CS4 products expect to get these fixes “for exsisting products”
    From what I can gather if one CS4 product fails, the clean out and wind back the clock option can require uninstalling all activated adobe products reinstalling and reactivating. Talk about a crappy business model.
    Locks only stop honest people,you say:
    “However, activation is shown to prevent casual piracy; which is our main goal with activation. We realize that hackers will break through just about any protection imaginable given enough desire and time.”
    Who do you think downloads and uses the damn products after the “hackers” have cracked the software? The “Casual” pirates/users….. sort of seems to be redundant and stupid putting it like that.

  56. Kirk davis says:

    Hello I just purchased Creative suite premiume cs4. I have installed and unistalled it because of the license expired error. Before i installed it I had phoned to make sure the copy I had was a legit copy because I had purchased from Ebay. I was told it was unregistered and it could be installed on 2 computers. I am a hobiest and i do not make money using your product and now I get this message that the license has expired. The only reason why i purchased it was I need the adobe raw support for my camera. I am not able to use this product at all it is useless for me i have done every thing i have found to do on your site and none of it works I have put the clock back and it still does not worked i have deleted every thing i could find in relation to cs4 on my computer and reinstalled it still dose not work. I wish i have never bought your product in the first place i could have sent the money to the people in Hatie rather than through it in the garbage. This is how i feel but now i am stuck I need help to make this product work with out it my camera is vertualy useless in raw which is what i want to shoot. The other thing is i can not afford to pay customer service for a product that does not work.
    Thank you

  57. Cameranut says:

    Why can’t I open my Photoshop Elements 6…when it has been running just fine…..an error message comes up and shuts my computer down!!! Very frustrating!

  58. Eric Wilde says:

    Cameranut,
    Could you supply some more information? I’m not sure what is happening here without more information. Have you tried talking to tech support? Do you have a case #?

  59. Hi there.
    Great installation help…thanks, fixed my problem.
    Anyone reading this guys stuff should bookmark it.

  60. Doug Anderson says:

    So do you have a fix that prevents the “Licensing for this product has stopped working” problem for CS-3 under Windows 7?
    I ran into this catastrophy and spent most of my waking hours for 3 days trying every solution I could find on your web site, but nothing worked. I ultimately ended up with a corrupted registry, and my IT guys are now wiping my hard drive and reinstalling Windows 7. So do I dare reinstall CS-3? Certainly not, unless you can tell me that you’ve fixed something somewhere that I can install over my retail version… have you? If so, where do I get it? If not, you are basically forcing me to buy a competitors product, and once that happens, you can count on me never buying anything from Adobe ever again. And don’t tell me to upgrade to CS-4… if that is your best fix, then how about if you send me a free copy of CS-4 to make up for the mess you’ve left me with CS-3?

  61. Eric Wilde says:

    Doug, its hard to tell with the limited information provided here what’s happened. If you haven’t yet reformatted your drive, can you send me some more information so that we can see what is causing this issue?
    Although CS3 doesn’t officially support Win7 it should generally work. I would expect licensing to completely work. The only known error is that if you upgrade from Win XP or Win Vista to Win 7 during the 30 day trial period you will lose the remainder of the 30 days. That doesn’t usually result in the problem you describe.
    Was the system previously on some other version of Windows and upgraded while the CS3 software was on the system?
    Do you still have access to the file system? If so, can save the amt.log file and send it my way (ewilde@adobe.com)? That will give us a chance of maybe finding out what is causing the problem. My spam filters generally trap large attachments, so send me a separate email as well to let me know to look through my spam filters.
    What flavor of CS3 do you have? What type of license are you using (volume vs. retail)?
    Do you have a case # with customer support? I can then get a lot of information that way.
    Thanks,
    –Eric

  62. Doug Anderson says:

    Eric,
    No, my machine now has a fresh install of Windows 7, so I can’t send you the amt.log file. I may not have been able to send it to you even before the reinstall as the corrupt registry was causing major problems that had me basically at a standstill. All I can tell you about my case (other than what I’ve said above) was that this was on a relatively new machine with a clean install of Windows 7 (not an upgrade) and a clean install of CS-3 Design Premium (retail/scholastic) on top. It was working just fine for a few months, then I started getting the “Licensing for this product has stopped working” error. I went through every solution I could find on the Adobe support site and nothing worked. I think it was one of the “clean CS3″ utilities that corrupted the registry and after that, I was completely hosed. I did contact your “customer service” — talked to some guy who barely spoke English to ask if I were to reinstall Windows without deactivating first (I couldn’t deactivate because I couldn’t start any product), would I be able to reinstall. First he said “no”, then he said my serial number still had activations left, then he said maybe: I should try it and call back if I have more problems. Not a good experience. My situation now is that I have a fresh install of Windows 7 but have not reinstalled CS3 for fear of crashing my machine again.
    Regarding “official support” for Windows 7, THIS IS NEWS TO ME!!! Your support site sure makes it sound like CS-3 is supported on WIndows 7:
    “Versions of Adobe products tested with Windows 7
    Adobe has tested Adobe Creative Suite 4 and Adobe Creative Suite 3 with Microsoft Windows 7. Although Creative Suite products and components prior to CS3 may perform as expected, there might be issues that might affect the installation or use of your Creative Suite product….”
    To me, this makes it sound like the problems were in products before CS-3. IF YOU DON’T SUPPORT CS-3 ON WINDOWS 7 THEN YOUR SUPPORT SITE SHOULD COME RIGHT OUT AND SAY SO!!! OR BETTER YET, FIX IT SO YOU DO SUPPORT WINDOWS 7!!!
    Either way, I’ll go back to my original question: do I dare reinstall CS3? From your response and all the other evidence I can find, it sure sounds like Adobe has no idea whether or not CS-3 (or CS-4, for that matter) will work on Windows 7, and certainly has not fixed the problems that cause this error.
    Please tell me this is not the case as I’ve been using Adobe products for years, I have a huge base of assets based on Adobe products, and being forced into changing platforms now would be an absolute disaster. Of course, I could revert to some prior version of Windows, but a) if forced to choose between Microsoft and Adobe, which would you choose? b) This problem doesn’t seem to be limited to Windows 7, and nothing you have said makes it clear to me that it is.
    And by the way, what is up with Flash Player not supporting 64-bit Internet Explorer??? Are you guys totally out of step with Microsoft???
    Help me out, Eric… what combination of OS and Adobe product can I rely on? I have no idea anymore.
    I’m sorry to take this all out on you, but to date, you are the only one that has given me any kind of response. I do appreciate your response.

  63. Eric Wilde says:

    Although Windows 7 came out after CS3 and the “official” position is that the products don’t support Windows 7, they generally work. The only issues we’ve found with licensing on Windows 7 is that if you are in the 30 day trial period and upgrade from Vista to 7 then that trial period expires.
    If you want to have a constructive conversation offline please feel free to email me directly at ewilde@adobe.com.

  64. Eric Wilde says:

    On second thought, I’ll email you. Expect something in your inbox.
    –e

  65. tlee says:

    I have the cs4 design premium. Recently, Dreamweaver, Flash and Fireworks have stopped working – I get the “Licensing for this product is expired’ message and the programs refuse to open. However, all of the other programs in the suite (AI, PS, ID, etc) still work fine. How is it that some programs still work and others don’t when they are all using the same serial number and were bought and installed at the same time? And how do I fix this?
    Thanks

  66. Josh says:

    Eric,
    Our lab is using CS4 for use with figure design for publications. We currently have two Macs with OS X running CS4 but since people don’t always want to work on figures in the lab (i.e. home) we want to run CS4 on one or maybe two other Macs with OS X. I’ve read the board through but I still have two questions.
    1. Are we still limited to 20 deactivation/activations? – I have to agree that this is a very frustrating limitation.
    2. If we deactivate CS4 on one computer can/will CS4 stay installed until it is reactivated? i.e. I don’t want to have to keep moving this software around every time a grad student or postdoc gets close to publishing.
    Thanks so much.
    We really like Adobe, but issues such as this are slowly driving us back to Canvas. We don’t need 5 power uses all on the same activation number, but we do need portability/flexibility to justify the cost.

  67. Eric Wilde says:

    Josh,
    1. Are we still limited to 20 deactivation/activations? – I have to agree that this is a very frustrating limitation.
    We still have an activation limit of 2 machines at any one time. That hasn’t changed.
    We no longer have a deactivation limit at all. This includes all activating Adobe products, including CS3 and CS4.
    2. If we deactivate CS4 on one computer can/will CS4 stay installed until it is reactivated?
    You can deactivate and keep the software deployed on the system. You’ll probably want to select the checkbox to remove the serial number as well, depending on the workflows you wish to support.

  68. John says:

    So what is the final solution for this licensing issue for CS3 on Mac OS X 10.6? I tried setting back the clock, using the maccs3clean tool, reinstalling many times, and deleting licensing folder in application support. Its still not working. We also have CS4, same issue.

  69. Eric Wilde says:

    John,
    If the published workarounds are working for you, then we’ll have to dig in and figure out what is happening on your system. I’ll have a couple of core engineers contact you.

  70. Henry says:

    If you wont advise mail me

  71. Eric Wilde says:

    Henry,
    I tried emailing you but it bounced. I can’t tell here what the issue you are encountering might be.

  72. As far as I am aware for my copy of CS3 I have not reached the total number of activations but your customer help facility does not assist people in my position who have installed this software on two machine’s and then had those machines become corrupt. I installed CS3 on a PC over two yrs ago and at some point the hard drive became corrupt and I could not get that fixed. I just put the machine in my garage. It needs a new hard drive as the hard drive is not detected. I have therefore been unable to connect to the internet and deactivate my software.

    I then installed my software on my iMac (intel) which has windows XP installed on it and all has been fine up to this point, then nightmare…when I booted the other day I got a blue screen and shut my machine down. I couldn’t boot to windows or mac system on the machine. Tried to reformat it to factory conditions but it got half way through that process and hung moving no further. A reboot has just meant me getting a grey screen and I cannot take it back to factory settings it seems. So I am unable to connect to the internet with that machine now to deactivate my second allowed activated copy of the software. I’m currently down to using my lap top temporarily until I can get a new hard drive for my first PC mentioned here as it seems to be just the HD that has failed so I am hoping I can get that fixed. The iMac is to be disposed of as I prefer a windows system.

    Problem, I own the license to software I cannot deactivate on the two machines above. I wish to re install it on the new hard drive that I will be fitting to the first machine, but it won’t even allow me to install it temporarily onto my lap top at the moment. It just says I have used too many activations. I have tried writing to yourselves via feedback onc and received no reply. I tried ringing your 800-833-6687 no. in the States today and waited a while and got a pre recorded message that tells me you are upgrading your customer help service and it is not currently in use? I am a professional photographer and when I bought my software I fully registered it with yourselves.

    I am getting nowhere with your customer help service. For the phenolminal cost of this software I expect a service that is second to none and on the ball but this is just not the case. I am very reluctant to upgrade to further versions of a software twhen the customer support is not that speedy with the current version of the software that I have. Not to mention the fact that I NEED to be using this software every day as a photographer when processing images but am not able to do so for as long as your department doesn’t help!

    Why are we not allowed to get email support from adobe when we live abroad and outside of the US? Why is this not possible with just a simple quote of a serial number, name and address. Calls cost a fortune and are not free for people outside of the US. I just paid for a call and to be connected to receive an answer machine telling me your customer support service is undergoing a rehaull.
    I have just sent my SECOND query via your “feedback” forjm as there doesn’t appear to be a contact email address to use as an alternative to the phone when the phone service is down or we are having problems with such. In the meantime MY productvity as a photographer is suffering for this.

    Please can someone deal with my enquiry via the feedback facility on this site! Please can someone email me on vjp.photo@gmail.com urgently to deal with my quiry in getting my software deactivated by Adobe. This should be totally possible from your end of the situation with my serial numbers quoted in the above circumstances. It is somewhat frustrating trying to deal support wise after purchasing software and it is not cheap software license.

    I have no intention if upgrading or going to any other versions until I am assisted and under the EULA I am allowed to use this software and purchased the license to use such indefinately.

  73. Tom says:

    While my issue is unrelated to this article, I’m glad to see a product engineer who actually works on the product is also active in the community. I’ve got Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended that simply freezes on start under Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit:

    http://forums.adobe.com/message/2982621

    I’ve tried pretty much everything I can think of and people on the forums are trying to be helpful but they haven’t encountered the issue before either. I’ve attempted the Adobe Support route a few times but I just run out of time. Since you work on the core product and know FLEXnet fairly well, perhaps you can speed things up a bit and get this problem resolved more quickly. Like you, I’m a Windows software developer.

    Your time is valuable. I won’t waste it. This is a legitimate problem with the product where all threads enter deadlock on startup before the splash screen appears. It is a 100% repeatable issue on my computer.

  74. lucus says:

    I just bought this and it after 2 FKing uses gave me an expired license screen… WTF is up with you people… we are BUYING this product… not renting it or asking to use it for f**k sake. HUNDREDS of dollars on a product that after TWO mind you TWO uses screws me. I’ve had dates use me more often before a payoff. WHAT THE HELL is with you people?:I will never again buy a product from you and I have posted the grab screen of it on everything ONLINE I can. You are bunch a greedy asses who care more about getting our dollars than you do if the product actually works or not. I grew up where if you buy something it works and it belongs to you… guess that little bit of integrity is missed on your company.

    • Eric Wilde says:

      Lucus,

      I’m not sure what is going on here and will respond to you via email.

      • Eric Wilde says:

        Just an update on some of the issues here. Some users here have encountered expiring serial numbers when using pirated or counterfeit serial numbers. In these cases we’re trying to follow up to find the source of these pirated serial numbers.

        The moral of the story is some pirated serial numbers are actually expiring for users and this may be another reason for seeing an expiring serial number.

  75. Sydnei says:

    I bought CS4 Design Premium. I am getting an expired license error. I have installed/reinstalled and called customer service. Not able to get stuff done.

  76. Philip Crosby says:

    I have 26 PC licenses and 15 Macintosh VALID licenses for CS4. All of them are exhibiting this same problem. Myself and others on my team have tried invane to work with support to rectify this situation. So far NOTHING described in any technote or suggested by tech support has resolved this issue. So as a last resort, while sitting on hold with tech support, ONCE AGAIN!, I am posting here. Are you still there Eric?

  77. Thomas Hansen says:

    I believe that the ultimate answer to this issue is this: have an online portal where the user can maintain their own activations/deactivations. So if a hard drive dies, no problem, just sign onto the site with your Adobe ID and delete the old activation.

    Yes, you could cheat the system by quickly activating/deactivating so you could run the software on more than 2 computers– but then there’d be a log of the activity on the Adobe server which could easily be picked up by a customer service “bot.”

    I further believe the this could be coupled with a policy of only actually cutting someone off after repeated warnings and even then, only by a human agent.

    The first couple of warnings could be automated, for example: “The system has detected potentially suspicious activity. If this continues you will be required to contact customer service to continue using your product.”

    Then: “Please contact customer service in the next 48 hours or your product key will be disabled due to suspicious activity on your account.”

    Finally: “Due to continued suspicious activity your product key has been disabled.”

    Someone could, for example, have a crashing/virused/bugged system that would require frequent activations – and a simple query by a customer service agent would immediately reveal this.

    Adobe is the vendor of a product — Photoshop — with almost unparalleled quality and utility — but almost equally notoriously expensive. Recall the spoof headline in the Onion: “Photoshop Actually Bought.”

    I just can’t imagine owning my own graphic design business, being up against a deadline, and — after investing my extremely hard-earned money on a product like Photoshop, having it REFUSE TO WORK because I unknowingly exceeded some arbitrary limit. If that EVER happened to me I would probably go pirate and NEVER spend another dime with Adobe ever again.

    Yes, I am 100% in favor of anti-piracy measures. But I really, really think that software vendors should remember the old adage:

    “The customer is always right.”

  78. Harriette says:

    I cannot install my registered CS3 on my Intel iMac. I keep getting the “license for this product is expired” message. I have called Adobe for help, but they say that support for CS3 is no longer available. It was originally installed on my Mac mini and I have 2 more legal activations left to me (also confirmed by an Adobe agent before they told me that no help was available).

    This is an outrageously unfair situation. I find it hard to believe that a software company would treat their paying customers this way. Why are these expensive products expiring after a couple of years – so that you can’t install the legal activations left to you on a new computer? I would really appreciate some help from someone to resolve this problem.

    • Eric Wilde says:

      Harriette,

      While that is the official policy, we can still try to do right by you. I’ll send you a private email to follow up.

  79. john mailand says:

    I am unsure how live the posts of this page are. The last post that I did was 6 plus hours ago. The “good” serial that I have tried still says that it is expired when the date returns to 2010. It doesn’t show up on the adobe server (it seems) the tech said that it was not registered (even though I went through the motions installing the dream weaver cs4 software). Is this product even worth working with??????

    Our company had spent 4 to 5 hours trying to load it before it was handed to me. I spent an hour on the phone mostly waiting for a tech to answer the phone. Frustration is becoming a state of being with this software.

    john

  80. john mailand says:

    appearantly the first post failed. after talking to the tech, the serial seems to be not pirated and not registered after loading and supposedly registering the key w/ adobe. after moving the date back, loading the software (clean load) the software is fine if I move the date to 4-4-2010, but ends with expired license if I move the date to 4-4-2011.

    john

    • Eric Wilde says:

      John,

      Do you have the customer service case #? I can try to get some details that way.

      Also, if you can send me the following data in email directly I can get someone in core engineering to take a look at the issue:

      Product Name (you mention Dreamweaver CS4, is it from a Suite or standalone?)
      Platform (Mac or Win, which OS version?)
      Language (US English or something else?)

      Thanks,
      –Eric (ewilde@adobe.com)

  81. Elgin Fisher says:

    I have a unregistered unopened Cs4 masters suite with an upgrade code to Cs5. I got it for school but I never needed to upgrade because I had the Cs4 individual programs for a class and never needed the upgrade. I later just went a head and bought abrandnew Cs5 masters Suite. So its like i have 2 Cs5 master suites. One I use one I have never touched…the student bookstore wont take it back. Can I sell it?

    • Eric Wilde says:

      If you purchased a perpetual license (which is the only thing we sold of the configuration you specify for CS4 and CS5) then the software is your property. You are free to resell it if you so choose.

      Two things to note:
      – Counterfeit Adobe products are rampant in popular online reselling sites. You should provide the proof of purchase to whomever buys the software.
      – Please be sure to *deactivate* and remove the serial number, preferably uninstalling the software, if you resell any product which you’ve already used. In your case, this isn’t a problem for the CS4 software; but, it would be if you decided to resell CS5. If you don’t take this step then whomever purchases the software from you is unlikely to be able to actually use it. The licensing solution will deny them access to the software.

  82. I have tried the CS4 but the expired licence note has given me headeche.After the reinstallation of my windows,CS4 couldnt load and this affected the company bussiness,bringing a loss of lots of money.The company has lost alot because of the unfair treatment of ADOBE.Ive tried out all the Fix softwares but all in vain.ADOBE,what is the way forward?Someone should help me otherwise CS is becomming useless to us.

  83. Please help me.

    The Apple 10.6.8 update resulted in a record count error on my MacBook Pro. Apple’s solution was to wipe the hard drive clean. I have been trying to reinstall my Adobe software (PS CS4 Extended, Dreamweaver CS4, Lightroom, Bridge) since July 3. Four chat sessions, 2 phone calls, and numerous emails later, Adobe has still not been able to solve this problem. Throughout the process I have provided serial #’s, product PN #’s, verified myself/products through Identit-E and provided all requested information.

    As an example of the level/lack of service I’ve received, here is a transcript of a portion of my last chat session (which you should be able to see/verify keying off of my email address):

    Me to Adobe: “I have upgraded to 10.6.8 and need to reactivate Photoshop CS4.”
    Adobe Customer Service Case Notes: “I have upgraded to Mac OS 1.6.2. At a minimum, please get Lightroom activated.”

    This complete mismatch between my stated problems and Customer Service’s response is typical of the entire process.

    I really like using Photoshop, Bridge, Lightroom and Dreamweaver. I helped with the pre-release de-bug of CS5. I’m inured to the fact that there will be glitches when software or operating systems are updated. However, to not be able to solve a customer’s problem for almost a month, primarily because customer service seems to lack basic problem definition and understanding skills, much less solutions, is beyond frustrating.
    I’ve spent way too much time trying to solve what should be an easy thing to fix. This has wasted a considerable amount of my time and money as well as Adobe’s. Please help me get working serial numbers for my Adobe products.

    • Eric Wilde says:

      Jill,

      I’m so sorry to hear about the run-around you received with customer support. I’ll send you a private email immediately so we can sort this out.

  84. Thor Rasmussen says:

    Message: Licensing for this product has expired

    I have installed a fresh copy of Windows 7 and then attempted to install Adobe CS 4 Master Collection to no avail. I attempted solutions outlined here: http://kb2.adobe.com/cps/494/cpsid_49485.html

    Without success…

    When I set me clock back to January 1, 2006 the products do work, but If I try to go back to the current date, re enter the serial number, I end up with the same message: Licensing for this product has expired

    Has there been any new solutions to this issue that I am missing?

    I attempted a chat session but was directed to the phone number page because this appears to be a technical issue. Attempted phone call; a 20 minute estimated time turned into 30 minutes … 40 minutes…. I needed to move on.

    Thank you for your assistance

  85. david andrew says:

    It seems I’m not alone. Only problem here is now I have to purchase a completely new version of Photoshop.
    The chat guys at above only transfer you from one place to another then they say try again later. I’ve gone round and round for three days now. I was instructed to uninstall and reinstall. Now there is no way to reinstall. I’ve sent all the serial information to them. I sent it 7 times. Each time I try to get help I have to resend this information.Since the last version of Photoshop I upgraded to (Upgraded with the cd not on line) was CS3, they informed me that because it was an up grade and a no longer supported version that I’m out of luck. When I bought the product there was no expiration date on the software. Now I’m without a software that was not cheep by any means and I use it daily(or did). No refund no explanation. Just a “Now you’ll have to pay monthly attitude”

    • Eric Wilde says:

      David, I’m trying to undrestand exactly what is the problem you’re encountering. I’ll send you a private email.

      Thanks,
      –Eric

  86. Sharon says:

    I’m getting the infamous “Licensing for this product has expired” message on Dreamweaver CS 4. After spending hours reading posts and trying every suggested fix, the only way I can get DW CS4 to run on my laptop is to set the date to May 31, 2010, start the program and then reset the date to today’s date so files have the right date stamp. I followed various KB articles (like deleting three folders), running the CC removal tool; all to no avail. I have CS 4 Web Premium on my desktop computer; it works fine so it doesn’t make sense that DW CS 4 won’t run on my laptop. Both computers are running Windows 7 64-bit OS.

  87. Das says:

    I have the same problem … CS3 that is usable off and on.
    This shows lack of respect and support for the users.

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