It was Adobe; in the billiard room, with the candlestick... In a single blow, the software-maker dispatched new sales of "perpetual" Creative Suite licenses and announced the languishing demise of Fireworks. The company today said it will no longer sell Creative Suite bundles (or its individual components) as retail products. In place of CS will be Adobe's Creative Cloud – a subscription-only service. 

"We have no current plans to release another perpetual release of the CS tools and suites. Creative Cloud is going to be our sole focus moving forward," Adobe said.

Meanwhile, Fireworks development has been halted except for discretionary security and bug fixes. However, Adobe was kind enough to promise that Fireworks would remain part of Creative Cloud for an undisclosed period of time and be updated to support the "next versions" of Mac OS X and Windows.

The company claims an "overwhelming" number of customers actually prefer the switch to a $50/month (or $600 annually) plan when compared to purchasing the software à la carte for thousands of dollars. At present, "Creative Cloud" is essentially a digitally-distributed version of Adobe's CS: Master Collection, but requires a monthly subscription validation check. Gone are the days of perpetual licenses which could be used for as long as the owner saw fit.

Existing Creative Suite owners can score special Creative Cloud pricing: $30/month for qualified licensees of previous CS versions (CS3 or new). Meanwhile, CS6 owners (and educational customers) enjoy deeper discounts at just $20/month – coincidentally the same price new customers can pay to access just a single application (e.g. Photoshop).

Adobe has been working toward a subscription-based model for years; however, no one could be entirely certain when that day would arrive. In March though, the famed Photoshop maker announced its imminent shift to a completely digital distribution system, canning retail sales of Creative Suite discs.

"We expected it to be a couple years before this happened. But we were surprised by how successful Creative Cloud has been," said Adobe. "We know that's going to be a difficult transition for some customers, but we think it's going to be the best move in the long haul."

Photoshop has long-been a piratical favorite, no doubt due to its prohibitive price tag and unique standing as the de facto world-class tool for graphics editing. This factoid has likely fueled Adobe's ongoing desire to move its products to the cloud as less-exploitable services.