Dapeng Li

Hungry, foolish and passionate – yet another software developer.

Trials and Errors – Frustrations with Adobe’s Trial Products

one comment

Dear Adobe: Your product is expensive, trial is thoughtful, limitation is overkilling, support is useless, lack of explanation is unacceptable, wasting user’s time intentionally – it is pure evil.

Short Version:

It seems that if you have installed trial versions of Adobe’s software on one machine, you will not be able to use Adobe’s other trial versions (even if they are different product/version from the old trials) on that same machine.

In a situation like this, install the trial on a new machine or just walk away – any more time spent will be wasted. If you already did trying to make trials work again, stop reading now and do something else you enjoy, life is too short.

I have no problem with Adobe protecting its product with time-boxed trials, what infuriates me is how Adobe treats legitimate trial users equal to sneaky users who try to use trial forever without purchasing. Yes, it’s might be difficult to differentiate those two kinds of users (I don’t think so, and considering the efforts Adobe put on crafting the “protection”, I doubt that more deeply), bother giving some explanation, rather than suggesting us keep trying things totally useless?

Oh, did I mention that legitimate users had complained about this issue for years?

Long version:

Adobe offers trial versions for its commercial products, you have 30 days to try them out for free, after that period you have to pay and enter the license key in order to continue using them. This kind of trial version is very common in computer software.

As an accidental system administrator, I install Adobe’s creative suite products for some colleagues. Our company regularly purchases Adobe’s software, but volume licensing orders take time and it usually takes weeks before we receive our license key, so we use trial versions and input license keys later.

Today (more precisely, yesterday, it’s 1:40 AM), I helped a colleague re-install Adobe Creative Suite 3 on her computer; we have placed the order for that product but haven’t received the license key yet, so I’m going to install the trial version. I know she had some other trial versions of Adobe products installed before, but don’t think that’s going to be a problem – those trials are not the same as the one I’m going to install, and I’m going to re-install the operating system, trials should work on a newly installed operating system, right? I couldn’t be more wrong.

Take 1

I formatted the old system’s partition and installed a new operating system, installed Adobe Creative Suite 3 trial, however, after opening the product and choosing to use trial, I got this error:

A problem was encountered while trying to load the trial period for Adobe Creative Suite.
Click quit to see if restarting your computer or reinstalling the software will correct this problem. Otherwise click ‘continue’ to display a screen where you can enter a valid serial number to begin using the product without trial.

A more friendly message should be:

You have installed our trial products before and we know that, so you’re screwed, don’t bother trying any more.

Notice how Adobe’s message points you to random directions by suggesting time consuming “fixes”, without mention any bit of the truth? It’s possible that trial can fail to load for other reasons, but a more detailed explanation or FAQ page would prevent many of the frustrations. Read on.

Take 2

I thought the error was caused by a Flash update or Windows system update I installed before the trial installation, I restored the partition from a ghost image (created in take 1) and installed trial again. Exact same error.

Take 3

I was thinking the trial wouldn’t work on the partition which had installed other trial versions before. So I formatted another partition and installed operating system and Adobe trial on that second partition. Again, I got the exact same error.

Take 4

I felt helpless, but conscious. Out of curiosity I restored from my second ghost image (created in take 3) and installed some other trial product (different from the trial I installed in first three takes)… OK, Adobe, you win.

Found a post on Adobe’s forum, others had been experiencing the same issue from 2007. Stupid me, I should had read the post more thoroughly.

So here my quest stops.

There’s more, a note on obtaining old trial versions

Adobe sells old versions of its products. For example, Creative Suite 5.5 is the latest version, however if you really want to use Creative Suite 3 you can buy from Adobe – by purchasing the latest version (5.5) and ask for a downgrade to version 3, Adobe will send you a new product key for the downgrade version and revoke the key for the latest version. After the downgrade, you can upgrade to 5.5 any time, but can only use version 3 before that.

Sounds good? Except that Adobe won’t provide installation files for old versions!

Want to use Creative Suite 3? No problem, Adobe is willing to sell a license of that to you, however you have to find the installer by yourself, they don’t want to give it to you have that. Our friends at Adobe support say they want to help but don’t have it and suggest you looking elsewhere – if they advise me go download from ThePirateBay and use the license key purchased, I will not be surprised, seriously.

OK, download the old trials of Creative Suite by following these instructions on ProDesignTools. Don’t worry about the credibility of the files, you will be downloading from Adobe’s website. How sweet.

I had other awful experiences with this amazing company called Adobe, but that’s enough for today. If you had read till this sentence I assume you had the similar experience as mine, my best wishes to you.

Written by Dapeng

January 8th, 2012 at 1:41 am

Posted in Using Software