January 08, 2013

What’s up with Adobe “giving away” CS2?

Here’s an explanation from the corporate blog:

Effective December 13, Adobe disabled the activation server for CS2 products and Acrobat 7 because of a technical glitch. These products were released over 7 years ago and do not run on many modern operating systems. But to ensure that any customers activating those old versions can continue to use their software, we issued a serial number directly to those customers.  While this might be interpreted as Adobe giving away software for free, we did it to help our customers.

Posted by John Nack at 8:11 AM on January 08, 2013


  • Ben Hansen — 8:49 AM on January 08, 2013

    you guys should give away cs2 that would be like the 2 in a 1, 2 punch to piracy. creative cloud being the 1.

    • Ben Hansen — 8:52 AM on January 08, 2013

      i know that’s a radical thought but hey those are the best kind ;)

    • Nat Brown — 10:23 AM on January 08, 2013

      In addition to the piracy issue, it would probably serve as a good marketing tool. I gotta believe the old releases reach a point where free use would be no more expensive than other marketing initiatives.

      Structure it so the old “real” serial numbers are treated as always. The public serial numbers don’t work for upgrades, etc.

      Once hooked on the full package, it’s tough not to up-purchase. Seems it would be a good compliment to the other tickler products, such as Elements.

  • Ambrose — 8:55 AM on January 08, 2013

    I wonder if this has really been done for all CS2 customers, or if there are other conditions for this to happen, as I was not aware of this until you brought it up.

  • Claudius — 9:01 AM on January 08, 2013

    I commented here earlier, that a “Photoshop Read Only” might be neccessary to win over some Creative Cloud Opponents. If i choose to rent photoshop, and then end my membership, all my PSD/PSB files turn into gigbytes of unusable crap.

    An “outdated” version of the CS for free might just do the trick. CS2 is new enough to support bells an whistles like Smart Objects, but old enough that it probably won’t hurt you financially.

  • Red Rose Photos — 10:45 AM on January 08, 2013

    Personally, I think an act like this to cater for customers should be applauded. There are companies out there who would see an opportunity like this as a chance to cut those old customers off and force them in to buying a newer product. In fact, many would.

  • Rob — 3:27 AM on January 09, 2013

    But that doesn’t the answer the question of whether it’s OK for ANYONE to download and use CS2 if they have an older PC to support it and are willing to use old technology. Every “official” statement from Adobe seems to skirt around this issue. Can someone just provide a straight answer to this question: Is it OK for someone who did NOT purchase CS2 to download this now for personal use?

    [No, it isn’t. The download link is there only for the benefit of people who’ve paid for CS2. –J.]

    • TinTin — 11:55 AM on January 16, 2013

      Seems to me that with this sentence:
      “While this might be interpreted as Adobe giving away software for free, we did it to help our customers”.
      And their desire to not force you to provide an existing license to receive these ones…
      And not saying “it is wrong to download this unless you have already purchased CS2….

      That Adobe is OK with people interpreting this as “giving away free software”.

  • Mario Palomera — 2:54 PM on January 09, 2013

    On the other side, all this noise could be “socially profitable” for Adobe. Imagine this : What if I want to open a cultural development center for low income people living in a low income area ? I go out and get some used and donated Mac’s, upgrade them with more cheap old ram, solid state discs and install free software mainly. If the main goal of the courses are going to be digital content creation, wouldn’t it be cool to have Adobe software there? I bet that there are a lot of similar projects out there, ONG’s and so forth, most of them using Google Apps and cheap SW solutions… The cool thing about the Web is that anyone with the knowledge and a good text editor can rock the world! One good example of fermium is Apple, Just look at how they have lowered the price for their older iPhones, bringing more opportunities to low income people to get into the digital mobile area.

  • Ashton — 8:44 PM on January 09, 2013

    I still don’t understand why is there a key, i thought adobe customers already had their own keys.

    There’s also no proper information on the webpage that allows download of adobe software. Adobe still haven’t made itself clear enough, even though information went over whole world it’s difficult to find any information on adobe website that clears all misunderstandings.

    To be honest after this whole mess i doubt any law institution would still protect your product.

    • Ben Hansen — 10:21 AM on January 10, 2013

      im not sure why you think them giving out a semi-public key would dissolve their copyrights but hey to answer your question the difference between that key and the ones people already had is probably that it did not require activation.

      [That’s correct. As noted, the old activation server developed problems & had to be retired. To ensure that customers weren’t left in the lurch, Adobe put out this alternate build. It’s not for people who didn’t pay for CS2. –J.]

  • Kathy Hendrix — 4:25 AM on January 10, 2013

    I am a user of Adobe products purchased legally. Unfortunately, my income has limited me to an occasional upgrade on Photoshop Elements (which is quite good). I still use the old, old Photoshop 6 for a few things. I was overjoyed, but skeptical when I came across a free CS2 link. I downloaded Photoshop from it. Love the improvements, now find out it is only for people who paid for CS2. I am very disappointed, but will honor Adobe’s intentions, as I am a committed Christian.

    • Rob — 7:59 AM on January 10, 2013

      I’m in a similar situation as you, Kathy. I’ve purchased multiple versions of Elements. I’m not a professional photographer, it’s just a fun hobby for me. I simply can’t afford to buy a full fledged version of Photoshop, let alone CS6. So I use Elements for most things and Gimp whenever I need access to a Channel Mixer. I too was hoping that this would allow me to use a full fledged Photoshop instead of Gimp for those few times when I need more advanced features. Adobe had a chance to score some major good-will points after an obvious snafu on their part when they posted the keys publically. Instead they are going to punish the users who play by the rules and reward those who ignore them. What makes this more frustrating is that Adobe rarely provides free, bug fix upgrades. If you have a problem with an Adobe product, you normally have to pay for an upgrade to the next version to get it fixed. I’m not surprised at their decision, just disappointed in the end result and how long it took to get a straight answer.

      • Kathy Hendrix — 11:43 AM on January 10, 2013

        Yes, Rob. It seems like the rule-breakers get all the breaks, but I would rather have a clear conscience until the day we get our rewards. :)

      • TinTin — 1:10 PM on January 16, 2013

        A “snafu” is fixed, or in this case removed/handled differently.

        Instead, despite all the discussion on numerous web sites/discussions found by a simple Google search of “Free CS2”, Adobe hasn’t done anything to clear this up, or reinforce the “For CS2 owners only!” implication that some people say is there… so apparently this isunimportant to them. Or more likely, not applicable.

        Adobe has done a good thing for the customer. Any decent company would (especially after the upgrade limits they have decided to apply on their costly software).

        But nowhere in their official comments on this have they said this is NOT “free software” or “for CS2 users only”…. conversely they have said:
        “While this might be interpreted as Adobe giving away software for free, we did it to help our customers.”

        Not “our CS2 customers, so all others move along”.

        The fact that they have not added any updated disclaimers or restrictions, or even addressed this worldwide discussion…. means only one thing.

        It is “free software”.

  • Debbie — 12:41 PM on January 10, 2013


    After reading numerous posts on this issue, I went to the Adobe.com site, and this is what I found.


    On this page above I found this
    CS2 Downloads

    Please login to download CS2. If you are a … It´s free and only takes a minute …
    Free trial downloads; Hundreds of free product extensions; Community areas …


    This is the download page for CS2 and also included are the serial nos for each download.

    Now this is on the adobe site. I found all of this from the homepage of adobe search, by typing free CS2 download news. I didn’t see anywhere, Adobe making any statements on these pages, that CS2 is not a free download.

    I didn’t see anywhere that CS2 is not available to anyone but licensed users. The only thing is you need to be a member of Adobe. The second URL takes one to the download page with the serial numbers.

    The only thing that can be deducted from this, in my opinion, is that they have made CS2 available for download for free. I also do not wish to download anything illegally, but they have made this download available to everyone.

  • Jeff — 12:44 PM on January 10, 2013

    Why not do one or both of the following?
    1. Restrict access to the website where the downloads are hosted to only those with Adobe accounts and previous registration of CS2.

    2. A sentence on the actual download page that says “These downloads are for licensed CS2 users only.”

    This is the first time I have ever read Adobe’s blog, and the only reason I came across it now is Gizmodo updated their UK article and I decided to do a bit more digging. If I had not decided to do a bit more digging?

    It’s like putting a drinking fountain on a busy street corner, and then posting on your blog that it’s members only. There is no sign on it, no security preventing anyone from using it, and why would I read your blog?

    • Ben Hansen — 3:57 PM on January 10, 2013

      I just remembered that’s so long ago now that’s pre-macromedia. had to actually use GoLive a few years ago and it felt ancient then i used to love GoLive.

    • Rob — 5:58 PM on January 10, 2013

      And not to beat a dead horse, but there’s a disclaimer on this blog stating, “The views expressed in this blog are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Adobe Systems Incorporated.”

      • ProDesignTools — 3:57 PM on January 11, 2013

        Well, what John says has basically been stated in several other places by Adobe or their representatives, essentially saying the same thing


        • Rob — 4:47 AM on January 17, 2013

          With all due respect, ProDesign Tools, you are NOT an official Adobe web site (check your own About page). My original comment (echoed by others here) still stands. The official Adobe site (where the downloads are actually available!) has never addressed this issue directly despite the confusion that it has generated. I’m not looking to argue, I (and obviously many others) just want a straight answer from Adobe Systems Inc… not from a sales rep, user’s group, blog, forum, facebook, etc.

          [I’m not sure what confusion persists. The CS2 download is there for the benefit of CS2 customers and no one else. Beyond the official blog on which the news was posted, I don’t expect further official communication. –J.]

          • ProDesignTools — 6:57 AM on January 17, 2013

            That’s exactly right, we’re not owned by Adobe… However, we reported exactly what Adobe staff have stated about this issue in four different channels, not all of which you may have been aware of before.

            That said, it’s evident from how all this has developed that more public clarification from the company couldn’t hurt.

  • Johannes Bangkok Nightlife — 9:34 AM on January 11, 2013

    I think that is great. I actually have Cs2 and it is sooo old looking, but it still works pretty good. Debbie thanks for the link

  • Kid on the internet — 8:13 AM on January 12, 2013

    It is given away for “free”. I’m so installing it on my older machines. My conscious is clear, not like I am using it for profit. :)

  • Lisa — 8:51 AM on January 14, 2013

    I find this a bit disturbing since my husband just bought this for me and now I can just download it from your site. How about a refund or at least a discount on the newer versions?

    • Ben Hansen — 10:06 AM on January 14, 2013

      what do you mean by just? he bought it 7 years ago and it got stuck on that island with tom hanks and that wilson ball?

    • Claudius — 10:32 AM on January 14, 2013

      That particular version (CS2) has not been sold for a few years. I think you won’t even find CS4 in stores anymore. Current Version of that package is CS6.

      I am unsure why adobe should refund it? The store will have sold it at a discount anyway (at least, i hope it did?)

    • TinTin — 1:19 PM on January 16, 2013

      As others have said… if your husband “just bought this” then it’s a newer version, and better than CS2.
      Or he got it off eBay and didn’t pay much anyway.

  • Jim Allen — 12:41 AM on April 09, 2013

    Tell me about it – I just paid $150 on ebay for “free” software. Well, it’s a phyrric victory- I legally am entitled to it.

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