The technology titan triggered a strong response after it used a conference to announce a raft of changes including Photoshop CC (Creative Cloud), a new version of the popular software package.

But instead of a one-off licence fee for the Creative Suite bundle, individuals will have to pay £38.12 a month, with groups forking out £53.20. Existing customers are being offered a discounted monthly fee for the new version of £22.22.

The company, which used its Max conference in Los Angeles on 6 May to make the announcement, is said to be keen to free itself from its traditional 18- to 24-month upgrade cycle.

“This is frustrating; it’s almost as if their margins are dropping and they are trying to achieve an even keel,” said Reprohouse managing director Graham Taylor, whose Chelmsford business uses Photoshop and Illustrator.

“It’s bad enough releasing so many new versions, which don’t have enough different options to justify upgrading. This is naughty; it will be prohibitive to smaller firms, who will look at other software, without a shadow of doubt.”

But litho and digital printer Gemini Brighton managing director Dave Britton said: “We don’t have the latest versions and upgrading depends on the fee; if there’s no large outgoing cost for upgrades I would embrace it.”

Patrick Marchese, co-founder of software developer Markzware said: “If the subscription model stays flexible it can be cheaper than purchasing the old bundles. But I think Adobe has questions to answer.

“For professional users with modern machines, a sub is a decent deal. For freelancers, large corporations and those who always lag to upgrade this subscription has them very concerned.”

“Apple may be very happy right now; Quark may have a golden opportunity, depending on how Adobe overcomes some of the objections being raised. Maybe Quark could cooperate with a photo-editing software developer and a vector, Illy-like application developer to offer a bundle. A little competition is always good.”

Rhapsody Media managing director Les Pipe said: “Hopefully this will mean consistency, as all our customers will eventually use the same product but this will probably take a couple of years. It will however cost us more.

“So this is good and bad. The new subscription model is a way for Adobe to gain more revenue, which is understandable to some extent. I’m keen for it to deliver consistency but I do not favour the extra costs.”

Adobe used its conference to rebrand its desktop apps from Creative Suite (CS) to Creative Cloud (CC). New features for Photoshop CC include a camera-shake reduction tool to correct blur from camera movement. The bundle also includes InDesign CC, Illustrator CC, Dreamweaver CC and Premier Pro CC.