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Is Lightroom Classic end-of-life?

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Lots of people are expressing concerns about Lightroom being "on the way out". I've been mulling it over, and I'd love to get your thoughts on this logic (and to be clear, I don't have inside information in this)

Is Lightroom dying?

Since Wednesday's announcements, one of the main questions on everyone's minds is whether Lightroom (as we know it) is dying.

Adobe says it's not, but they also said they had no plans to remove perpetual licenses too, so can we believe them? I don't know what Adobe is planning, and none of us can foresee the future, but we can consider a little logic...

Firstly, what's causing the concerns?


Adobe released Lightroom CC

Yes, Lightroom now has a little baby brother. But Photoshop's had a baby brother for years without getting killed off, so that doesn't mean much.


They gave away Lightroom's name

That's more telling. They clearly see the new app as the future of Lightroom. But like any newborn baby, its current state gives few clues about how it will turn out when it grows up.


They called 'the old one' Classic

Some say that sounds like it's old and in its way out. Others think it's the dictionary definition of "of recognized and established value" or "traditional". The obvious solution would be to call it Pro, but that would suggest the new baby Lightroom wouldn't be suitable for Pros when it grows up. The fact they avoided that suggests they plan on making the new Lightroom CC suitable for pro workflows in future too. That's reassuring.


Classic didn't get many new features

It's true, it didn't get a long list of features. On the other hand, Lightroom users have been begging for performance improvements and bug fixes for years. They start working on these issues and now we're complaining? And why bother to work on these issues if they're planning to kill it off soon?


Learn from history

I can't foresee the future, although it would be a handy skill. We can, however, learn from what they've done in the past. Let's take Photoshop as an example. They announced that future versions would only be available on subscription, but they kept selling the perpetual license. Once the vast majority of users had moved to subscription, they then killed off perpetual. They've just done the same with Lightroom.


What can we learn from this? Adobe makes some weird decisions at times, but they are good at making money. They don't kill off a profitable part of their business until most customers have moved over to a new offering.


How does that help? Ok, let's assume that they're eventually going to kill off Lightroom Classic. History would suggest they wouldn't do that until they have a viable alternative for the majority of their customers. Not all, but most.


Now let's imagine that alternative-in-waiting is the new baby Lightroom CC app, all grown up. There are currently some major limitations that make it impossible for most users to migrate:

  • It's lacking important features. That'll take time to develop, and they're looking to the community to learn which features are most important.
  • It requires fast internet. Either the majority of the world needs superfast internet, which would take a long time, or they need some kind of selective sync, or local network sync, or...?
  • You don't want some or any of your photos stored in the cloud, either for privacy or space reasons. Ok, selective sync again? Some kind of local storage only switch?

Once they've addressed those issues - and no doubt a few more besides - then potentially Lightroom CC could have tempted most of Lightroom's users, and they could be in a position to kill of Lightroom Classic.


But that couldn't happen overnight, so how long would it take? I don't know, but that same time span also gives other companies time to develop other applications.


My point? Even if we assume that Lightroom is on death row, there's no rush to make a decision about what's next. So many things can change in that time. Lightroom CC may grow up to be even better than Lightroom Classic (they must have learned a few lessons along the way!!) or another company may bring out a new superduper competitor.


I'm not saying that is or isn't going to happen - I don't know the future any more than you do - but even if we look at a worst case scenario of our beloved Lightroom being killed off someday, logically there's no reason to panic anytime soon.
 

Drdul

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I'm sure that the "Classic" version is on the way out, but as you noted it won't happen overnight. Given how many features are still missing from the new "CC" version, I would expect that Classic has 2–3 years left. IMO Adobe needlessly scared users by changing the name to "Classic," but I'm not a marketing expert so what do I know!

My question in considering whether to switch to the new "CC" version at some time in the future is how Adobe will deal with the cloud issue. I don't want to pay Adobe $10 per TB per month to store my images in their cloud, as I already have a robust storage and backup system in place, and I'm not interested in editing 10-year old images on my phone. If the new "CC" version allows me to stay away from the cloud or only store a designated subset of my images in the cloud, then I would be happy to switch when all the missing features have been added. But if Adobe is going to force me to store all my images in the cloud then they better make it pretty cheap to do so or I'll be looking elsewhere.

Edit: Clarified the cloud storage price
 
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Sadly, I do not want to be held hostage to Adobe - I will not be taking up a subscription license when the time comes when I need a new version of DAM/image editing software upon acquisition of new cameras in the future.

I really do like Lightroom but what Adobe are offering currently leaves me cold - I do not need or want cloud storage - and I will not pay 3-4 times for the same application as I did for a standalone perpetual license.

So, again sadly, Adobe has pushed me out of the way, sidelined me, and the divorce will not be of my choosing.
I will have to consider other options and plan for the day that Lightroom 6.x becomes unusable...

Tony Jay
 

PhilBurton

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Lots of people are expressing concerns about Lightroom being "on the way out". I've been mulling it over, and I'd love to get your thoughts on this logic (and to be clear, I don't have inside information in this)

Is Lightroom dying?

Since Wednesday's announcements, one of the main questions on everyone's minds is whether Lightroom (as we know it) is dying.

Adobe says it's not, but they said that about perpetual licenses, so can we believe them? I don't know what Adobe is planning, and none of us can foresee the future, but we can consider a little logic...

---

Some say that sounds like it's old and in its way out. Others think it's the dictionary definition of "of recognized and established value" or "traditional". The obvious solution would be to call it Pro, but that would suggest the new baby Lightroom wouldn't be suitable for Pros when it grows up. The fact they avoided that suggests they plan on making the new Lightroom CC suitable for pro workflows in future too. That's reassuring.


Classic didn't get many new features

It's true, it didn't get a long list of features. On the other hand, Lightroom users have been begging for performance improvements and bug fixes for years. They start working on these issues and now we're complaining? And why bother to work on these issues if they're planning to kill it off soon?


---

Now let's imagine that alternative-in-waiting is the new baby Lightroom CC app, all grown up. There are currently some major limitations that make it impossible for most users to migrate:

  • It's lacking important features. That'll take time to develop, and they're looking to the community to learn which features are most important.
  • It requires fast internet. Either the majority of the world needs superfast internet, which would take a long time, or they need some kind of selective sync, or local network sync, or...?
  • You don't want some or any of your photos stored in the cloud, either for privacy or space reasons. Ok, selective sync again? Some kind of local storage only switch?

Once they've addressed those issues - and no doubt a few more besides - then potentially Lightroom CC could have tempted most of Lightroom's users, and they could be in a position to kill of Lightroom Classic.


But that couldn't happen overnight, so how long would it take? I don't know, but that same time span also gives other companies time to develop other applications.
I'm going to guess that the codebase, the collection of all the lines of code, for Classic is in bad shape after 10 years and the decision was made to "rewrite in place" because a new codebase would be better for new features. In that case, it is possible that LR CC could take on all the important functionality of Classic, notably a desktop usage paradigm. I'm not sure I agree with the idea of releasing a half-baked LR CC, but at least I can construct a rationale for their decisions. I can argue that if my guess is right, then they have to put on a brave face and not acknowledge that they will have a single product again in 2019 (?). Otherwise, they might kill the sales potential of LR CC by admitting that it is an incomplete product.

The big risk to this strategy is the competition. They are leaving their customer base very vulerable to being picked off by a new company with a good story and a promising development.

If my guess is wrong, and they have a different long-term strategy then I haven't a clue to their thinking, because I can't imagine what that strategy could be. And alienating your existing customers is not a strategy for success.

Phil
 
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I think LR Classic is going to be frozen for future new feature development. Essentially EoL. Like the perpetual, it will continue in its present form until such time that a.) Adobe fully populates the CC version with the missing features b.)Significant number of users abandon LR Classic in favor of the CC version.
The biggest problem with the CC Cloud version is that Adobe has all of your images and now edits hostage Sure, you can make local copies but you will also need exports of your finished product. With the previous LRCC2015 subscription, when the product subscription ended you still had your images and your edits in a Limited version of LR.
 

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I agree with Phil. I have said on another post that Adobe should publish a roadmap for the next 18-24 months. Fuji did that when they launched their new mirrorless product and needed credibility with a new market . Sony did the same. It is appropriate now for Adobe to share their roadmap. Then, their most loyal and most knowledgeable users can help support and develop a new product instead of planning on what to do with obsolete and discarded Adobe products. (Lr Perpetual, Lr Classic, Creative Suite CS6).

At the moment we have to pay Adobe for storage for us to beta test a new product.
 

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I think LR Classic is going to be frozen for future new feature development. Essentially EoL. Like the perpetual, it will continue in its present form until such time that a.) Adobe fully populates the CC version with the missing features b.)Significant number of users abandon LR Classic in favor of the CC version.
The biggest problem with the CC Cloud version is that Adobe has all of your images and now edits hostage Sure, you can make local copies but you will also need exports of your finished product. With the previous LRCC2015 subscription, when the product subscription ended you still had your images and your edits in a Limited version of LR.
Cletus,

I'm afraid that you are right, absent a public commitment from Adobe to continue enhancements for Classic. We need that commitment or else we as a group will simply migrate to other solutions. I wold like to say that having investigated various DAM-only solutions about a year ago, I was not impressed with the alternatives to LR as a DAM.

Rikk, time to take back to your management the high degree of unhappiness/concern/opposition to their MAX announcements.

Phil
 

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Is Lightroom dying?

Since Wednesday's announcements, one of the main questions on everyone's minds is whether Lightroom (as we know it) is dying.
I can see them eventually integrating the current two approaches into one package - Lightroom Complete.
They can't expect that the majority of their users will want to store and work on everything that is stored in the cloud. The desktop and large monitors won't go away. The DSLR market will continue to grow their photo sizes to super large files, weighting down LR CC, and making a desktop solution the best way to go. But those of us who want a desktop solution also will carry a smart phone, and we will want the ability to catalog and work on both.

At the same time, the future of the bulk camera market is in the smart phone. There they will compete with a phone that can do intelligent post processing, making Lightroom CC a 2nd place product at best. Most of the smart phone folks that I know have zero interest in post processing a photo on their phone or on a tablet. They expect that their Smart phone will give them what they want and need. So Adobe won't be able to count on the smart phone market, and LR CC, for the majority of their revenue stream.
 
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The biggest problem with the CC Cloud version is that Adobe has all of your images and now edits hostage
You and others keep using that term, and I do not quite understand it.

I am reluctant to move all my images to the cloud for any number of reasons: it's not encrypted (by me), it's not documented in regards reliability, security, redundancy; it's expensive; it's slow.

But to hold hostage implies they will keep them and not give them back unless you pay. How is that what they are doing?

You pay, you use their storage. You stop paying they give you a YEAR to download your originals (free). Try to find a U-store-it that will make you that deal.

I think it's bad they require you use their storage. I think it's bad you can't use 3rd party storage, or your own storage for synchronization.

But I just do not get the "hostage" term that I am hearing here and other forums from more than one person -- how do you figure that?

Just as an aside, I used "Classic" tonight for the first time in real production, a double header softball game. I still used Photo Mechanic as a front end, but the process of import, preview, review, edit, and post to my web site (a) worked without any issues, and (b) was considerably faster than it has been in the past. Maybe the end is in sight for Classic, but it is hardly showing signs of a terminal illness. Mark Twain's quote seems relevant about premature reports.
 

sizzlingbadger

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My guess is Classic will eventually go. The new Lightroom will have everything that Classic has by then with the option of cloud or local storage. (Hopefully)

I expect the current code base has become a bit of a monstrosity after all these years of development. A new code base built from the ground up with the current features in mind would be an advantage to everyone.
 

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Victoria,

The name Classic, and the focused improvements really say a few things things; all of which say the product is EOL.
The name Classic implies this is the end. Everything from Coke, the PGA and many other marketing examples can be given.
Second, the focus on what users have requested, they suddenly ignore their own vision and do what customers have asked for years? That means one of two items, they either have a new product/executive manager who has a customer focus, or they lost the product visionaries.
Third, my perception of the improvements are low risk and a good step in the right direction of code cleanup which could potentially be shared with the other Lr CC team.

None of these are are deal killers. None of them are bad per se. Even the bad marketing and name confusion is just laughable, but really does not mean much in the grand scheme of things. Even the premature release of Lr CC, does not really bother me much. It really does broadcast where Adobe is thinking. Which I think is good.

Here is the problem. Look at Lr CC. Look at how the feature set is developed which depends on the cloud.
From the very tight integration and syncing features, which is very robust for a first release, Adobe has therefore invested significant resources in this endeavor and must consider it a core design choice. They have also made it clear, by the very rapid growth in features for Lr Mobile, the new Lr CC which is tightly tied to Lr Mobile, and the minimal improvement in Lr Classic, that Adobe believes a full cloud solution is the future. Therefore, Adobe has made it obvious that they are going to make all products very tightly tied to their version of the cloud.

Having spent days figuring out solutions, and then even more time getting everything out from being held hostage by Apple iTunes and Google Docs, I am not going to voluntarily sign up to be held hostage again. Especially when you consider I was not even paying Apple or Google a penny anymore just to maintain what they had already captured.
Adobe is planning to not only charge for the software subscription, which I found of dubious value since I have no interest in Lr Mobile, and even less in Lr CC now, they want to charge me to store my photos? From a practical perspective, I am going to keep Office 365 which provides me 1TB of storage, why would I want to spend another $120 bucks a year at a minimum? It just does not make sense.

So, I am thankful for the rather ham-handed way Adobe has managed to release the latest release. This will give me time to find viable replacements, I likely will need to cobble together a few pieces of software to do it. It has also saved me a couple of years of continuing to learn Lr more advanced features and finally starting to learn Photoshop.

Tim
 

tspear

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You and others keep using that term, and I do not quite understand it.
The Webster dictionary definition of hostage:
one that is involuntarily controlled by an outside influence

Adobe is forcing not only a subscription to the software, but you then must either bastardize your workflow and give up the most important aspects of a DAM or must pay at least double the price just to store the images. Hence, the term hostage.

Tim
 
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I think Victoria is right in her observations. Yes, Lightroom Classic will probably die one day, but not today, not tomorrow and not next year. There will be more updates, but eventually Lightroom CC will take over. Adobe knows that there are lots of photographers who have many terabytes of images and/or have slow internet connections, and they know that won't change anytime soon. So by the time they feel they can kill off Lightroom Classic, there probably will be some solution for that, like selective sync. And by that time an extra TB of cloud storage won't cost $10/month, but more likely $1/month. Adobe makes some bad decisions some times, but these people are not complete idiots.

This discussion reminds me of the DNG discussion, but where most people react very rational in that discussion, I see very irrational and emotional reactions now. Some DNG advocates say you need to convert your raw images to DNG right now, because maybe some day in the future they will not be supported anymore. Most people agree that if and when that time comes, you can convert those raw files. No need to worry about that now. But with the Lightroom Classic discussions I see all over the internet people are saying they will immediately start looking for alternatives, just because Lightroom Classic might be killed off in a few years from now...

Let's look at the facts: Adobe just released an upgrade that adds new stuff and deals with one of the biggest complaints people had for years. That doesn't sound like a half dead patient to me yet...
 
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Great feedback guys, keep it coming. I love that we can have a civilized discussion even though everyone has slightly different opinions.

With the previous LRCC2015 subscription, when the product subscription ended you still had your images and your edits in a Limited version of LR.
That applies to Lightroom CC too. Editing stops working, and it won't sync up to the cloud anymore, but it'll download from the cloud for a year to get your photos onto a local HD and you can still browse/export etc.

I'm afraid that you are right, absent a public commitment from Adobe to continue enhancements for Classic. We need that commitment or else we as a group will simply migrate to other solutions.
They have made that commitment publicly Answering Your Questions on Lightroom CC, Lightroom Classic CC and More Question is whether anyone trusts it.
 
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That applies to Lightroom CC too. Editing stops working, and it won't sync up to the cloud anymore, but it'll download from the cloud for a year to get your photos onto a local HD and you can still browse/export etc.
I was going to ask if you have ever seen that publicly documented, Victoria, and where. But I just found
Creative Cloud Photography plans | Common questions and under "What happens to my photos if I end my membership?"

Adobe will continue to store your original images for one year after your membership lapses. During that time, you can continue to launch Lightroom CC to download your original files from our cloud services.​

John
 
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I do not like completely cloud-based solutions. I love to have the flexibility and possibility to store my data on the cloud. See what is happening with the WPA2 wireless security flaw, who knows how long it has been there, exploited by whom?
And we can expect that password cracking becomes much faster with the newly announced quantum processors.

If it is a home-based photographer user, who manages family and friends photo archives, then it is most likely a no-problem.

But what if someone steals your latest Pulitzer shot you've been working for the past 2 months? (ok, now I am exaggerating a bit! ;))
 

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@JohanElzenga
The issue for me is Adobe has clearly stated the direction they are going. It is not a direction I am interested in, and any solution they come up with to avoid using their cloud will will likely be very poorly thought out, or have other bad unintended consequences. The cloud aspect is way to central to how the system is designed to just casually turn it off.
Therefore, since I am still learning the tools from Adobe, why continue to invest?

@Victoria Bampton
The short answer is, no Adobe has no credibility. With Creative Suite, Adobe did a reasonably good job of announcing the subscription change a version or two ahead of time.
With Lr, Adobe has treated the customer base like a captured market (which it largely is) and been very misleading. There is nothing definitive I or likely others can point too as a technical lie, but the statements always implied one thing and left an out for the company. The problem is, Adobe has taken the "out" too many times and left an impression that they fail to follow through. This is a result of the super careful messaging the company does, and the customer base Adobe has.
A few example where Adobe has dramatically missed the message from the users and shown they likely do not really understand the at least vocal group here and elsewhere:
1. The debacle of the import dialog has not been forgotten
2. Two years of largely unseen improvements except stability fixes. The stability fixes are likely caused by poor testing or coding.
3. The 2GB backup warning problem? The very fact that made it into a production release signifies none of the developers or testers use a a large set of images. Which counters @JohanElzenga belief the company is aware that people have TB of images. If they knew people had TB of images, such a bug would never had made it out of development, let alone into testing and production.

I am sure there are more examples, but I am not sure I have seen any company miss manage or fail to understand the customer base since BlackBerry missed the SmartPhone market.

Tim
 

tspear

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Adobe publicly committed to Lr Perpetual. Enough said.
I am 99%b sure they always left themselves an out. It was never open ended, but did imply it would exist for a while.

Tim
 
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Adobe publicly committed to Lr Perpetual. Enough said.
What Hogarty actually wrote is here : "Future versions of Lightroom will be made available via traditional perpetual licenses indefinitely." That "indefinitely" is deliberately woolly - in any case people wouldn't have believed him if he had said "forever"!

And while they might not support LR6 after December, they could meet the letter of that statement by leaving LR6 on sale, available indefinitely.

John
 
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Here is my guess. I think they will wait and see what happens before dividing future direction. If LRcc doesn’t take off then the longer LRcc Classic will survive.

This is a huge change and I suspect there will be relatively few subscribers who adopt LRcc 100% and upload everything, particularly as we only get 20GB with our account and have to pay for more.

I can see it being a useful tool while you are on the road and for phone photos but I think it will take a long time (if at all) before the momentum shifts fully to LRcc.
 

Les Bessant

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They have made that commitment publicly Answering Your Questions on Lightroom CC, Lightroom Classic CC and More Question is whether anyone trusts it.
After {mumble} years working in IT, trusting any vendor isn't something I tend to do. But I think there's some hope in this statement:

We know that for many of you, Lightroom Classic, is a tool you know and love and so it has an exciting roadmap of improvements well into the future. But please hold us accountable as we make updates in the following months and years to let us know if we’re meeting your expectations.
Would go a long way to reducing suspicions if they shared even edited highlights of the roadmap....
 
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What Hogarty actually wrote is here : "Future versions of Lightroom will be made available via traditional perpetual licenses indefinitely." That "indefinitely" is deliberately woolly - in any case people wouldn't have believed him if he had said "forever"!

And while they might not support LR6 after December, they could meet the letter of that statement by leaving LR6 on sale, available indefinitely.

John
Another thing is that Tom doesn't decide this. Maybe he fully intended to keep Lightroom out of CC at all, but he was first overruled when Lightroom was added to CC anyway, and recently he was overruled again when it came to keeping the promise to make Lightroom available via a traditional perpetual license.
 
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What Hogarty actually wrote is here : "Future versions of Lightroom will be made available via traditional perpetual licenses indefinitely." That "indefinitely" is deliberately woolly - in any case people wouldn't have believed him if he had said "forever"!
Yeah, very wooly. Most people read it as forever, but the dictionary definition is an unspecified length of time.
 
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The Webster dictionary definition of hostage:
one that is involuntarily controlled by an outside influence

Adobe is forcing not only a subscription to the software, but you then must either bastardize your workflow and give up the most important aspects of a DAM or must pay at least double the price just to store the images. Hence, the term hostage.

Tim
But that argument (storage) only applies if you switch to the new Lightroom CC. No switch, no hostage.

I think Adobe did a very unethical thing with dropping perpetual after promising it would remain "indefinitely" and if they try to take the out that "indefinite" is not definite, they know how people read that statement. But I also do not see how not releasing a NEW version of perpetual holds anyone hostage either. Those that changed to subscription decided to, those that bought "Perpetual" got it, and if they wanted it to keep forever they can (+/- it still running of course). Call them liars perhaps, but hostage takers?

Now YES: If you decide to switch to CC, I think being a proprietary storage is bad. But I still do not get the hostage comment -- it's like a supposed victim walking into a kidnappers den (do they have dens?) and saying "tie me up".

And YES, I think that Adobe did us all a bad deed by not making Classic fully interoperable with the new Cloud thing, and I think it signals it is EOL eventually (but with a long, boring death scene).

And my goodness, they could hardly have done a worse job on names (though I think a fair effort was put into explaining after the fact).

But hostage? I just think it helps focus the debate to avoid hyperbole in an area where Adobe actually DID do something reasonably well -- for those who CHOOSE to subscribe, they left a very palatable method to access your archive, in my opinion.
 
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