Adobe has extended product activation for its Creative Suite 2 to Mac users for the first time.

The process means customers get 30-days to try the software out, but must complete the activation (using a valid serial number) during that trial period, or else the application stops. Activation limits use of the suite to just two machines.

"This is just one component of our anti-piracy strategy," Drew McManus, Adobe's director of worldwide anti-piracy, told

Casual copiers include people that purchase a piece of software and give it to their friends or a graphics shop that purchases one copy and installs it on all of the machines in the office. It also includes someone selling a computer "loaded with software." While these casual copiers may not sound important when looking at the big piracy picture, Adobe says it's a huge problem.

"This is likely one of the largest forms of piracy out there," said McManus. It [activation] is a simple barrier to ensure people stay within the terms of the license agreement."

The Honest Customer

Most people don't consider themselves software pirates; some may even read the license agreement and understand that there are limitations they agree to abide by when installing software. The majority of users, however, install the software they need on the machines they need it on without giving the license agreement a second thought. In developing their activation policies, Adobe said the honest customers had to come first.

"One of the mantras we had in developing our activation scheme was 'put the honest customer first,' said McManus. "We didn't want to burden the honest customer to help us prevent the pirate. It's essentially one more step in the installation and ensures the customer has a valid license to complete that install."

McManus said his team tried to think of every possible situation that a customer would be without their validated computer and need to use Creative Suite 2. Examples included having a computer stolen at an airport to having it smashed or run over by a speeding taxi cab.

Whatever the situation, McManus and the anti-piracy team are confident that enough support systems are in place to handle almost anything customers can throw their way. If a computer is lost or stolen, CS2 has a built-in 30 day grace period, so the user can continue working on another system.

"We don't ever want to put a brick wall in front of our customers getting their work done," said McManus.

How it works

If you are within your limit of two computers for the license, clicking "Activate" will contact the Adobe servers and verify your serial number. The entire process takes about 10-15 seconds to complete.

Internet-activation isn't the only option. There are telephone numbers in 18 languages over 65 countries to handle it.

If you get a new computer or want to use CS2 on another system, Adobe has implemented a way to deactivate your machine. In the Help menu, clicking on Transfer Activation will take you through the necessary steps - once done CS2 will no longer work on that machine, but you can activate another.

While effective in curbing many forms of piracy, activation will not stop the more advanced users from cracking it, Adobe admits. Finding a balance is what McManus and his team is after.

"We could make it more difficult for the hackers to crack, but that would also make it more difficult for our honest customers - that's something we are not prepared to do," said McManus. "The goal was to make this a completely forgettable process."