Acrobat DC made easy: 5 questions about Adobe’s document manager answered

 In Software, Volume Licensing

In April, Adobe released Acrobat Document Cloud (DC), its newest iteration of the document reading and editing application. Unlike Creative Cloud, which is only offered in a subscription-based model, Acrobat DC is available through either a perpetual license or as a subscription. Both licensing models can be purchased for every market segment, depending on an organization’s needs and IT environment.

Perpetual or subscription – what’s the difference? Organizations have struggled with this question and others since Acrobat DC was launched earlier this year, and we want to clear up the confusion about which options are available and other roadblocks users have come across. Here are five common questions we’re asked about Acrobat DC.

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1. Is Acrobat DC only available as a subscription license?

The most common misconception customers have regarding the release of Acrobat DC is the program’s licensing. Many customers believe that, like many of Adobe’s flagship applications, Acrobat DC is only available through subscription licensing. This is not true.

Acrobat DC is actually available through two licensing models: perpetual via the Transitional Licensing Program (TLP) or Cumulative Licensing Program (CLP), or subscription via the Value Incentive Plan (VIP) program.

Acrobat DC, like previous versions of Acrobat, can be installed as a perpetual license on a local desktop. Or, organizations can purchase a 12-month minimum subscription to Acrobat DC through the VIP program. Subscription VIP licenses can be revoked and reassigned at any time throughout the subscription term, making the pool of licenses easy for administrators to manage.

2. Do the subscription and perpetual offerings have the same features?

When Acrobat DC was launched, we detailed the differences between the perpetual and subscription licenses of Acrobat DC’s Standard and Professional options. To state it simply, the subscription model has more features than its perpetual counterpart in both circumstances.

The subscription version of Acrobat DC Professional has the full laundry list of services and mobile apps that allows users to create, export, edit, share, and track PDFs from anywhere — and stay connected to recent files across all devices. Users can also:

  • Send, track, and confirm delivery of important documents electronically
  • Maintain a consistent user experience across all devices
  • Create PDFs on the go in a browser or on a mobile device
  • Merge multiple documents into one PDF in a browser
  • Export PDFs to Office formats in a browser or on a mobile device
  • Add or edit text — or rearrange pages — in a PDF on your iPad
  • Collect e-signatures from others and track responses in real time

3. Is Acrobat DC hosted in the cloud?

Adobe broke its naming conventions when it chose Acrobat Document Cloud. Despite the inclusion of cloud in its title, this is a desktop application.

Acrobat DC does offer access to cloud services and storage through the perpetual license, but customers can easily turn off these features to comply with legal or security restrictions. For instance, many government agencies are restricted by law from storing information in Adobe’s Cloud Storage. Other organizations may turn off the online service to block access to third-party connections such as Google Drive and Dropbox.

4. Do I have to use the sign-in screen for a perpetual license of Acrobat DC?

Adobe automatically includes cloud services and storage when an organization purchases Acrobat DC through perpetual licensing. However, users can disable the cloud storage and the sign-in screen, as well as all other cloud services, when installing the application through Adobe’s Customization Wizard.

5. Can I downgrade to Acrobat XI?

As is the case of other Adobe software, users can downgrade the perpetual license of Acrobat Pro DC and instead install a previous version, if they wish. But be forewarned: Adobe will stop supporting Acrobat X after Nov. 15, 2015. Acrobat XI is the only version that will be supported past November, with an end of life scheduled for Oct. 15, 2017.

Have other Acrobat DC questions?

The intricacies of Acrobat DC’s licensing can cause headaches in your organization. To help determine the best licensing option, start by examining your organization’s needs. Partnering with a licensing expert can eliminate some of this confusion and ensure you receive the features you desire without being over-licensed.

What other questions do you have about Acrobat DC? Leave us a comment below.

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Showing 8 comments
  • Stacey

    Thanks! This is so complicated! Used to just be reader or the full package! Primarily, we just need to be able to merge .pdfs and to extract or delete pages out of a .pdf. From what I can tell, we would need the full desktop version, but even it says you have to have subscription to merge documents. Sigh. Thanks! 🙁

    • Dan Masiello

      Hi Stacey, thank you for the comment! Adobe Reader is still available as free download off You can still Insert, Delete and Organize PDFs using a perpetual license of Acrobat Standard or Pro DC. In addition, you are still able to combine multiple documents into one PDF file using a perpetual license. The Merge documents feature in the subscription model (VIP program) allows for collaboration with cloud storage and online services.

  • Betsy

    Can one subscription be used by two people in the same organization?

    • Dan Masiello

      @Betsy: A named User Subscription is assigned to a single end user with a specific Adobe ID. Only the end user assigned the single license can log in and use the product. Education customers, however, have the option to purchase a “device license.” With a device license, the license is assigned to the individual machine with no Adobe ID required, so anyone can use the product. Device licensing is ideal for labs and classrooms with multiple people coming in and out throughout the day, so anyone can sit down and use the product at that machine.

  • Lisa

    We have a 4 person office and each person may have to edit a document at any time. It is conceivable, though unlikely, that two people may have to edit different documents simultaneously. 1) Can anyone log onto any machine with the Adobe ID? 2) Will there be a conflict if someone is already logged on and a second person attempts to log on? (Incidentally,right now I do not foresee us needing the ability to edit PDFs anywhere except our desktop machines.)

    • Dan Masiello

      Thanks for the question Lisa.

      There are two options for Acrobat.
      1) If you purchase Acrobat Pro DC as a subscription, each license is assigned to an end user with an Adobe ID. Only that end user would be able to log in and use the product. Acrobat DC through VIP would allow you to install the license on one primary and one secondary computer but they cannot be running at the same time. In your situation for subscription licensing, you would need 4 separate licenses and each license would need to be assigned to a separate end user.

      2) Acrobat Pro DC is still offered as a perpetual license. If you purchase a perpetual license of Acrobat DC, you would be able to install the license on 4 separate machines. When a perpetual license of Acrobat DC is purchased, it comes with cloud services and cloud storage. One of the cloud services is a sign-in screen, which would require only a specific end user to use the product. This feature can be turned off (perpetual license only) using the customization wizard when you install the license. Once this feature has been removed anyone can use the product on the workstation. So if 4 licenses are purchased and the sign-in screen is turned off, then 4 people can use the product at each workstation. If cloud services and cloud storage are not needed, a perpetual license of Acrobat DC is recommended for this situation.

      Hope this helps!

  • Mike

    Does an Adobe Acrobat DC Pro license can cover an Adobe Acrobat DC Standard install?

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