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So, this is legit. I guess.

There’s a bit of a mystery and a bit of a buzz here — Adobe appears to have released the entire CS2 version of its Creative Suite, legal serial numbers and everything, for free. That’s Acrobat 3D 1.0, Acrobat Standard 7.0, Acrobat Pro 8.0, Audition 3.0, GoLive CS2, Illustrator CS2, InCopy CS2, InDesign CS2, Photoshop CS2, Photoshop Elements 4.0/5.0 and Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0. Either all together in a big, fat suite, or à la carte. Nobody is sure why.

Each of those programs alone was hundreds of dollars new. The catch is, “new” was 2005. While this may cause problems for Mac users, not so much for Windows users. I know several people still using the CS version of Photoshop, so CS2 should be a doddle to run.

As y’all know, I’ve just expensively upgraded my Photoshop from CS3 to CS6 and, while there are lots of incremental tweaks and improvements, the difference is hardly dramatic. Before that, I had CS, and before that Photoshop 6. Frankly, the basic guts of the thing haven’t changed in…ever, really.

So I downloaded and installed the Illustrator and InDesign components this afternoon (two excellent bits of Adobe kit I’ve used in the past and couldn’t afford to buy for myself). They installed fine, accepted the serial numbers and appear to be running with no problems. I registered them to my official account as if they were legitimate, because as far as I’m concerned, they are…until Adobe tells me otherwise.

This could be a clever bit of marketing from Adobe. You know, get people hooked on an old version and hope to make a customer for life. But if that’s the case, why aren’t they advertising it at all? The download page is just sitting there, no promotional blurb, no index page, no link of the front…nothing. I have no idea who discovered it and started spreading the word.

This could be a stupid move on Adobe’s part, as these versions are probably good enough for most people. In which case, I’d expect them to recant real soon now.

Zo! If you’ve ever wanted Photoshop (or any other Creative Suite component) but gagged at the price, I’d scoot on over and grab this. Quick. Before they change their minds.

(Thanks to Don for the heads up).

Update InDesign and Illustrator seem to be working okay for me, Windows7 64-bit professional. Photoshop crashed thrice for Uncle B, running XP on a ThinkPad, so he’s uninstalling it. So. Word to the wise.


Comment from Redd
Time: January 8, 2013, 11:12 pm

Didn’t they do something similar with Photoshop 4.0 years ago, i.e., release it for free?

Thanks for letting people know. I should download it asap before they yank it but at the moment, I’m too lazy to switch to my other laptop.

Comment from Some Photoshopped Vegetable
Time: January 9, 2013, 12:03 am


CNET has CS5 AND CS6 as”Free To Try downloads” added 20 Dec 12 but not as “Free”

Comment from dissent555
Time: January 9, 2013, 12:35 am

I get the impression from http://forums.adobe.com/thread/1114930?start=40&tstart=0 that CS2 won’t run on Win7 x64 and above. (?)

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 9, 2013, 1:02 am

I’ve got Win7 64 bit professional, and it seems to be working okay. I mean, Illustrator and InDesign. I didn’t try working on a project, but I brought them both up and poked around.

Some Veg, “free to try” is common in high end software. It’s a heartbreaker. You get a month to play, wild and free, and then the nice man with the white powder say you better start pawning stuff if you want to stay in the game.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 9, 2013, 1:20 am

Eh. Okay. It’s crashing for Uncle B. He’s got a Pentium 4 Thinkpad running XP. FYI.

I suppose I’d better update the post.

Comment from Redd
Time: January 9, 2013, 1:53 am

Instillation instructions say it’s okay with XP.

Comment from Feynmangroupie
Time: January 9, 2013, 1:57 am

Speaking of software downloads, Pixy Misa had a link to a PCworld article that provided links to the full WIN OS ISO files which can be downloaded and burned to a flash drive or DVD. I thought it would come in handy since I wasn’t given physical copies of the install disks, when I purchased my laptop this past year.


It’s a 3Gb file and you must already have your software key, but pcworld guides you through it all.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: January 9, 2013, 1:59 am

I know, Redd. Still crapped-out on me several times. I’ve uninstalled it.

Comment from Argentium G. Tiger
Time: January 9, 2013, 1:59 am

If you’re on a Windows 7 64 bit box like I am, perhaps you can use a trick I discovered:

– Download and install Oracle’s “VirtualBox” (free!) I found this when looking for alternatives for VMWare 9 which costs $250.00 new. So far, so good, I’m pretty impressed!
– Create a virtual machine with say a 40 gig virtual hard drive
– Mount the Windows XP install CD (or an .iso image of it) as a CD drive to the virtual machine
– Install Windows XP and update it to SP3, then add all the Microsoft updates
– Use that to install the Adobe software.

And thanks Stoaty for the heads up!

Comment from Mrs Compton
Time: January 9, 2013, 2:16 am

Mr C came across a blurb about it somewhere. He was all excited to tell me until I told him I had already had a copy of CS4. I hate when he finds out I paid a shitload of money for software.

Comment from Scott Jacobs
Time: January 9, 2013, 3:11 am

Photoshop crashed thrice

So it too is working like one would expect, hmm?

Comment from Anonymous
Time: January 9, 2013, 3:24 am

The catch is, “new” was 2005. While this may cause problems for Mac users…

Not for me – I’m still running OS X 10.3.9, and CS2 was written for 10.3. (It says 10.2.8 – 10.3.8, but I doubt that the last update to 10.3 will break it.)

Comment from Oceania
Time: January 9, 2013, 3:34 am

Wow! Thanks!

Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: January 9, 2013, 6:21 am

Hm possibly they are going to change their product enough that the old software won’t work well with it, but people will be used to their stuff so it would encourage them to buy the new versions? Who knows but I can surely use some of these products. Hopefully tomorrow morning when I have time and energy, it still will be around for me to use.

Since I still have an XP machine running (my work machine, actually), this would work out perfectly. Heck I’m running a 10 year old version of Word and Publisher on it still. Its not like the documents print out on parchment in old English or something.

Comment from Skandia Recluse
Time: January 9, 2013, 7:40 am

Thanks MS Sweasel for the link. I have an aversion to Adobe, but wanted to see what Photoshop looked like. It looks like Gimp only worse. Wont read my camera’s raw image file, crashes flash player. Sets Vista to revert to XP. Can’t find elements; they’re there somewhere. Illustrator looks ok, but I can’t draw. I see a button in there for High Dynamic Range images, which I’m interested in. .

…and it ate up a months worth of download bits, so it wasn’t exactly free. . if it keeps me occupied for a week or two, until some more books get here from Amazon….I might learn something..or not.

I love your blog.

Comment from Skandia Recluse
Time: January 9, 2013, 7:43 am

OH, and Premier is for video, yes?
hafta wait on that or pay 5c megabyte for download.

Comment from Oceania
Time: January 9, 2013, 7:49 am

Skandia Recluse has hit the nail on the head.

Many users are functional with XP … which suits a number of business and educational needs.
So why change to 7 & 8 which are just dogs?

If someone brought out a beefed up version of XP, with suitable upgrades and fixes, I would actually buy it.

Microsoft has failed to realise its core market.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 9, 2013, 10:49 am

Vista was a dog, but Windows 7 is actually my favorite Win so far. I don’t usually have a good word to say about Microsoft products, but I’ve been very pleased with 7. Where it’s different from XP, it’s better…and it doesn’t feel very different at all.

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: January 9, 2013, 12:27 pm

Agreed about Windows, Stoaty. I was quite happy with XP (for a Windows version), but I actually like 7, which has a couple of features that are really useful.

Comment from surly
Time: January 9, 2013, 5:14 pm

SWEET! Thank you Sweas & Don! I can now use PShop on my old crApple at work!

Comment from BJM2009
Time: January 9, 2013, 6:12 pm

Thanks for the review, I decided not to upgrade CS3. Mainly because I only have a handful of clients who are trying to get the hell out of ObamaDodge too, so paying for the upgrades for occasional collateral tweaks wasn’t a good roi.

Heh. I went full bore selfish, greedy Boomer (as per the current meme…fuck ’em) and blew the dough on myself. An Alienware Aurora will arrive Friday. HooEeeee doggies! I can’t wait!

Comment from BJM2009
Time: January 9, 2013, 6:35 pm

@ Mrs Compton I hate when he finds out I paid a shitload of money for software.

Ha ha! I’m pondering how to slip the new Beastie in unnoticed. *G*

When I’m eventually put on the spot, I’ll point out how much a pair of Louboutins cost and how he’s damned lucky I no longer give a fig about being fashionable.

Comment from Mrs Compton
Time: January 9, 2013, 6:50 pm

BMJ2009, in our house tech takes high place. We have all the latest gadgets. But…. he hates Adobes bizniz plan. He hates they charge so much for it, he hates they bring out a new one practically each and every year and he hates that I want it! He knew I had a version, probably thought it was pirated (who me?) and was so giddy thinking I could get it FREE! So it burst his little bubble that I paid retail…. he doesn’t know about all the plug ins tho. That will be our little secret.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 9, 2013, 6:56 pm

That’s the one and only condition I place upon my life. Don’t care about clothes, don’t care about cars, don’t care about vacations…but I simply *must* have a computer what doth kick all manner of butt.

Comment from Oh Hell
Time: January 10, 2013, 5:15 am

Well, it’s downloading and looks like it will take all night…..this may not end well. But, if it doesn’t crash, I can have some fun with it, I hope!! Thanks, Sweas!!

Comment from Ken
Time: January 10, 2013, 1:26 pm

Does anyone have an opinion as to whether Illustrator and Photoshop CS2 would be an upgrade over Gimp and Inkscape (which I’m presently using)?

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 10, 2013, 3:09 pm

Well, here’s my opinion from a lifetime of driving graphics software: whichever program you learn first will be stuck in your head as the best.

So Illustrator is and has been the industry standard for years, but I could never warm to it. I learned Corel Draw first, and it’ll always be the system that makes sense to me.

So…looked at dispassionately, Illustrator and Photoshop are probably better programs than Inkscape and Gimp. But if you’re already familiar with the latter, you’ll probably be happy sticking with them.

On the other hand…FREE!

Comment from Ken
Time: January 10, 2013, 11:13 pm

Thank you. I used to use Illustrator and Photoshop back when I was in industry (ag trade magazines & media); graphic design wasn’t my main job, but I had to do enough that I became sort of conversant. When I began the process of becoming a benighted academic, I switched to open-source stuff. The one thing I like about Inkscape is that it seems less wedded to PostScript than Illustrator used to be, though with stuff like Primo PDF available I just PDF everything anyway. I don’t need to do high-end work these days, though I don’t suppose I’d mind being able to do. Thanks again.

Comment from Oceania
Time: January 21, 2013, 12:59 am

Seams to be working ok here on XP platforms!
Excellent find!

Comment from Whoopie
Time: February 5, 2013, 2:36 am

I fell for the “free” CS2 gimmick. Here’s the deal. Besides the license key provided you also have to phone Adobe for a validation number. You only get that if you pay the price. Otherwise, it’s just a 30 day trial copy.

The two tiered validation scheme is to prevent folks who buy a licensed copy from passing it around to friends. It went into effect with CS2. You can only validate a licensed copy twice. Crash your HDD 3 times and you’re SOL.

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Time: April 15, 2013, 9:56 pm

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