There has been a recent buzz in the blogs about Adobe possibly releasing full, registered copies of their popular software products for free. A reader of this column sent me a link a few days ago that appeared to be an authentic Adobe website that offered full copies of its “Creative Suite 2” (CS2) software for free, including license codes. I did a quick security check of the link, and it was indeed an authentic Adobe website complete with full versions of dozens of Adobe products, along with a serial number to activate each product. Still somewhat suspicious, I downloaded a few of the products to my sandbox (a virtual machine used to check suspicious files without risking the computer), performed a comprehensive security scan of all of the files with a variety of sophisticated malware scanners, and found them to be free of any malware. What did draw my attention were the file versions and file dates, some of which were many years old. The blogs were discussing what Adobe might be up to, releasing these popular software titles for free.
According to an Adobe website posting, “Effective Dec. 13, 2012, Adobe disabled the activation server for Creative Suite 2 products and Acrobat 7 because of a technical glitch. These products were released over seven 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, Adobe issued a serial number directly to those customers. While it could be interpreted as Adobe giving away software for free, Adobe did it to help its customers.” In an earlier post on the Adobe website, which appears to have been deleted, Adobe stated that these files were not intended to be downloaded by the general public, but were intended to be downloaded and installed by previously registered users who needed to reinstall an earlier product that had been purchased previously. Since Adobe took down the servers used to activate these older, obsolescent, products, these previously registered users received an “Error: Activation Server Unavailable” which made it impossible to use the full featured software. In a good faith attempt to help these users using this old software, Adobe made a decision to post the downloadable files along with a serial number that can be used to make the software fully functional.
One Adobe program that I had some experience with, which was installed on one of my old Windows XP computers, was Adobe GoLive, which I remember as an excellent “WYSIWYG” (What You See Is What You Get) HTML editor, which was used to create professional looking websites. When GoLive was introduced, it replaced Adobe’s popular PageMill Webpage authoring software. GoLive 9 was the final version released by Adobe, with sales discontinued in April 2008. GoLive was replaced at that time by Adobe Dreamweaver. The version of GoLive CS2 available on this Adobe CS2 download site is version 8.00, dated April 5, 2005. Cognizant that the Adobe CS2 download website clearly states that these products are explicitly intended for older Windows 2000 and Windows XP equipped computers, as well as for older Macs with OS X v.10.2.8 – v.10.3.8. The copy of GoLive CS2 that I downloaded installed and worked fine on my more modern Windows 7-64 machine. I surmise that I am lucky because in the blogs, several posts have stated that others had problems installing and running some of the dozens of programs listed on modern computers.
Adobe Creative Suite 2 (CS2), the comprehensive suite available for download on the CS2 website, is a huge 340mb download, and includes such well known and popular programs as Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Acrobat Professional and Adobe GoLive. This Creative Suite 2 build was released in April 2005, and while fully functional, is somewhat antiquated by today’s standards, and cannot be updated. For reference, the latest version, Creative Suite 6, was released in May 2012, with full versions selling for about $650 to $1,900; a cloud based version of Creative Suite 6 is available as a subscription service starting at about $50 per month. The 2005 dated version of CS2 lacks many of the features, and obviously the updates, included in CS6.
All of the other members of the CS2 family available for download from www.adobe.com/downloads/cs2_downloads/index.html, are all dated no later than 2005, making them approximately eight years old. In terms of software development, while they might have been state-of-the-art in 2005 and are still functional today, they lack the features, improvements, and other benefits of newer versions. Adobe makes no claim that any of this software will run well on computers running operating systems newer than Windows XP or Mac OS X v.10.2.8 – v.10.3.8.
While obsolescent versions are long out-of-date, there are many popular and well known Adobe titles and serial numbers available for download in both Windows and Mac versions from this Adobe website. In addition to the Creative Suite 2 and GoLive CS2, other recognizable Adobe titles include Acrobat Standard 7.0, Acrobat Pro 8.0, Audition 3.0 (Windows version), Illustrator CS2, InCopy CS2, InDesign CS2, Photoshop CS2, Photoshop Elements 4.0/5.0, and Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0. For those needing a comprehensive and integrated (but somewhat archaic) image creation and editing suite, Creative Suite 2 might be worthy of consideration, since it was originally a product selling for more than $1,000. The Acrobat Standard 7.0, best known as the utility used to create PDF files, is available for download, but was originally a $300 program; it is still listed as available on Amazon for $100. The Adobe Acrobat Pro 8.0, a more comprehensive PDF creator available as late as 2006, originally sold for $449, but is still listed on Amazon for “only” $287; this same Adobe Acrobat Pro 8.0 is one of the available downloads from this Adobe CS2 website. Adobe Photoshop is one of the most widely used high-end image editing programs, such that the term “Photoshopped” has become a somewhat generic term for edited images; the 2005 version of Photoshop CS2, which (according to Amazon) originally sold for as much as $2,000, is another one of the popular downloads available from the CS2 website.
While originally intended only for those needing to reinstall an old copy of these Adobe products, Adobe has apparently removed the commentary and restrictions on downloading these outdated versions of many of their most popular programs and utilities. If your computer can run these older versions, and you have a need for the features and services provided by these somewhat antiquated but functional products, they might be worthy downloads — while they are available.