Choosing an Adobe plan can be a confusing process. Subscription or perpetual? Annual or extended term? Is it better for you to purchase in bulk or to purchase over time?
To try and make things a bit clearer, we're going to break your licensing options down based on something you're more likely to know: which apps you need access to. Knowing whether you need the full Creative Cloud suite, can manage with a stripped down version or just need to update your PDF workflow will go a long way to help you find the right plan for you.
You need to involve yourself in the VIP licensing program, which is the only one that can provide Creative Cloud Complete or Creative Cloud Single Apps. Called the 'Value Incentive Plan', this is a subscription model that gives you access to the software itself, any updates as soon as they are released, mobile apps, and an Admin Console for managing multiple licences.
Using VIP, you can purchase Creative Cloud for teams or Creative Cloud for enterprise.
Creative Cloud for teams is designed, unsurprisingly, for small work groups and design teams. Users get access to extra online storage and collaborative tools that are not available to individuals. Team licences can be assigned to an individual (named licensing) or a device (device licensing) if you are an educational institution. The licences are owned by the company, not the end users, and can be reassigned to new users as needed.
Creative Cloud for enterprise is designed for larger deployments, and comes with extra management and security tools, which you can read about here.
VIP offers three subscription term options – annual, extended and three year commit. The annual subscription is for 12 months paid upfront, so you’d renew annually. The extended subscription can be chosen when you sign up to VIP and allows you to pay upfront for up to three years if you are a business, or four years for education and government.
Finally, the three year commit option is available when you qualify for VIP Select, and means you pay a set price in return for maintaining your licence quantity over three years (commercial and government customers also get increased discounts). You achieve VIP Select status when you buy ten or more licences (fifty for education). As well as giving you the option to sign up for three year commit, it also gives you volume discounts on all purchases.
The best way to get Adobe's all-conquering PDF program is through the 'Value Incentive Plan', a subscription model that gives you access to the software itself, any updates as soon as they are released, mobile apps, and an Admin Console for managing multiple licences. This is the same model used to purchase Creative Cloud, and like Creative Cloud, Acrobat DC it can be purchased for teams or for enterprise.
Opting for a VIP subscription is better than buying Acrobat outright, as the subscription model gives you access to extra services and features not available in the perpetually licensed version (i.e. the version you can buy outright), including support for syncing PDFs across mobile devices, electronic signing within business apps and the ability to photograph any document with your iPad camera and convert it instantly to a PDF.
If you only need the desktop version of Acrobat and think you can do without the extra features, you can buy a perpetual licence via Adobe's Transactional Licensing Program (TLP) or Cumulative Licensing Program (CLP).
The TLP is ideal if you want to place a large, one-off order. There is no contract and no membership requirement. You simply make one large transaction, and get better pricing the more licences you buy.
The CLP is for organisations who make purchases on a regular basis. You sign a two year membership deal, and get points for every Adobe purchase you make. The more points you accrue, the better your discount. The only thing to bear in mind is that in order to be able to join the CLP, your initial purchase needs to be worth 5000 Adobe points (the equivalent of about 12 commercial Acrobat Pro licences).
Adobe’s latest release of Acrobat DC supports Citrix XenApp, Citrix XenDesktop, VMware Horizon and Microsoft App-V via the VIP named user model. Windows Terminal Server is restricted to perpetual.
If you’re a Creative Cloud customer you can choose to add an Adobe Stock subscription to your VIP membership. The VIP model is the only one that can provide Adobe Stock, and it is only available as a team option.
If you've not seen what you want here, you're probably after something that's only available on the TLP or CLP. The Elements range of apps (cut down versions of Photoshop, InDesign and Premiere Pro), Adobe Captivate, FrameMaker, FreeHand, PageMaker and ColdFusion, as well as tools like Adobe Meta Server, Tech Communications Suite and Font Folio, are all available on standalone perpetual licences, but not through any of the subscription options.