Adobe is introducing a subscription model for many of its most popular programs, including Photoshop and Dreamweaver.
Up to now, customers had perpetual access by paying a single fee for Adobe's Creative Suite.
From next month, continuing access to the programs, either individually or as a whole, will demand a monthly fee.
Standalone versions will still be available but will not be upgraded.
The change was announced at Adobe's annual Max conference, at which it details the latest updates to its products.
'Company free from upgrade cycle'
Adobe spokesman Scott Morris said the move to a subscription system would free the company from its traditional 18 to 24-month upgrade cycle. From June, he said, improvements would be released as they became available.
At Max, Adobe said the standalone version of its Creative Suite, which bundles together 16 programs, including Photoshop, Illustrator, Audition, Dreamweaver and Premiere, would be frozen at version 6. Bug fixes would be made available for this version but new features and enhancements would not. Currently, the standalone version of Creative Suite 6 costs about £1,800 from Adobe.
Those who want to keep up with upgrades and changes to Creative Suite would have to take out a subscription to Adobe's Creative Cloud - a web-based system through which customers can manage what they do with the different tools. In return, customers get access to the software as well as an online storage system and project management tools.
In the UK, access to all programs in the Creative Cloud costs £47 a month provided customers agree to pay for at least a year. If customers opt to pay month-to-month the cost is £70. Access to individual applications costs just under £18 a month if customers sign up for a year.
'500,000 subscribers for Creative Cloud'
Discounts would be available for those that signed up before 31 July, Adobe said.
"Customers have to come to terms with the end of perpetually licensed software," IDC analyst Al Hilwa told the Associated Press.
The move to a subscription model is the culmination of a long experiment by Adobe to see if customers would pay monthly for access. Adobe said it now had 500,000 subscribers for Creative Cloud after running a pilot programme for a year.
Adobe is the latest in a number of large software firms that have moved to a cloud-based or subscription model. Microsoft has also introduced Office 365, a subscription version of its set of office productivity programs.