There's plenty of discussion on this forum pertaining to the ever changing interface on Bridge. We have all asked that the squares around the thumbnails and unnecessary padding between images be removed. We have been ignored on these issues. Props are to be given for the changes in the Bridge 2020 regarding the labels and coloring (nicely done), and the return of the Export panel which was a very useful tool that was removed awhile back. I will save the destruction of the Camera Raw interface for another post.
I took a chance this past week on upgrading Adobe CC...just the app, nothing else. Unfortunately it appears that the CC gatekeeping code will no longer allow Bridge 2018 to invoke Camera Raw. It gave me an error message the "I had to be logged into a valid CC application to access it". It is possible that something just went wrong during my update. But if this is in fact true, I'd like to know because that will force me to refrain from updating ANY of my Adobe applications until I get a new camera which would likely necessitate an update of Camera Raw to handle the files it generates. Did you do this Adobe? Are you attempting to obsolete the last excellent version of Bridge before your "stylists" got to it? I'd like to think that something just 'went wrong' during my update but in attempting to fix my problem I went to the 'installing earlier versions' area for Bridge and thought an uninstall/re-install of Bridge 2018 would handle it. Only one problem...Bridge 2018 appeared in the uninstall list but NOT IN THE INSTALL LIST. That forced me into a restore of my computer from a 2 month old C:Drive backup image. After approximately 18 hours I was back in business. I have detailed this experience so that any other Bridge 2018 users will not make the same mistake, and so that Adobe will understand that many of us are still not satisfied with the final product. It's unfortunate. We're talking about removing unnecessary padding, and getting rid of image backgrounds. I used to write code, there's probably about 3 constants in the program responsible for this. If they were instead variables in the Settings we could all have it the way we want it.
First when you see the Bridge 2020 install screen it ask you if you want to delete older versions of Bridge.
There are several sites that offer older versions of Bridge
Pro Tools comes to mind. This is option has been known for years and has been frequently posted here.
There is no conspiracy as you say. You need to install PS 2020 to install the version of Camera Raw that will work with Bridge 2020. Its because of new options available to users that would effect opening up ACR older version in Bridge 2020. ACR is tied to the script that is installed in Bridge when PS is installed.
I might not have been totally clear in the original post. My intention was not to install Bridge 2020, but to simply upgrade the Adobe CC app to see what was new. In hindsight I believe the trouble started when I then decided to upgrade Photoshop, and also adds Bridge 2020 and the new ACR. I never delete older versions when doing this.
There were no specific actions taken that would predict that the installed Bridge 2018 would no longer be work with ACR. (The error: "Camera Raw editing requires a qualifying product has been launched at least once to enable this feature")
In attempting to further understand the behavior of Adobe apps, I logged out of all. And with only Photoshop 2019, Bridge 2018, 2019, 2020 installed, I AGAIN CANNOT USE CAMERA RAW WITH BRIDGE 2018. After the restore, I was somehow able to get it to work by first launching Bridge 2019 (I saw the automatic CC login flash by), but now despite having all of this older software installed I can't get Bridge 2018 to launch ACR without giving the error. Hopefully somebody can help with this.
As updated below in my response, after logging out of all Adobe apps in an effort to fully document how I got Bridge 2018 to work with ACR again, I am now dead in the water again with the "Camera Raw editing requires a qualifying product has been launched at least once to enable this feature" error message. I even tried to 'browse in Bridge' from Photoshop to get it re enabled but Photoshop 2019 launches one of my later versions when I do that. I was thinking of going back a version of Photoshop to re-activate but at the moment my CC app shows me nothing but the update slide switch. It's possible that Adobe finally has me cornered into using the latest version.
At some point you will have to move forward. Older versions of Bridge are not compatible with current ACR and vice versa.