There’s some potentially good news on the horizon for creative professionals who’ve clung to the CS3 and CS4 versions of Adobe’s suite of photo-editing, illustration, and design applications, but who might want to upgrade to the company's forthcoming Creative Suite 6 (CS6) or subscribe to its new Creative Cloud. In a post on the company’s website, Adobe announced “special introductory upgrade pricing” for CS3 and CS4 owners who upgrade to Adobe Creative Suite 6 software or to the subscription-based Adobe Creative Cloud.
Under the new plan, CS3 and CS4 owners will have until December 31, 2012 to take advantage of the offer.
According to Adobe, Creative Suite 6 will be released in the first half of 2012. CS6 will be a major new release of Adobe's creative desktop programs, with expected upgrades across the board to more than a dozen applications. Adobe Creative Cloud would give members access to all of the CS6 desktop software, automatic updates, and a range of additional services and community features.
This upgrade pricing offer marks a significant policy reversal for Adobe. In a November 2011 blog post, Adobe revealed that it had abandoned its traditional upgrade policy, which had supported discounted software upgrades for owners of up to three previous versions. Instead, the company instituted a new policy that supported discounted upgrades only for the previous main version—in this case CS5 or CS5.5. Adobe offered a 20 percent discount until the end of the year for users to upgrade to the current version.
Thus, anyone running Adobe CS3 or CS4 would have had to upgrade to the current version, Adobe CS5 or CS5.5 first, and then pay an upgrade fee yet again when the new CS6 arrived. And that would have been a pricey proposition: Upgrading from Creative Suite 3.x Design Premium, for example, to Creative Suite 5.5 Design Premium, costs $950. A single product upgrade can be costly, too: moving from Photoshop CS4 to Photoshop CS5 Extended would set you back $350.
It’s these costs that can make some creative professionals decide to hold on to their existing versions when considering whether to upgrade to new Adobe releases. Adobe typically revs its creative software lineup every 18 to 24 months, and breaking open the checkbook that frequently is out of the question for some creative pros. Adobe's controversial Subscription Editions service, launched last year midway between major releases, was the company's first attempt to make its products more affordabe for certain users and to vary the price, the way customers paid for software, and even the terms of ownership.
Meanwhile, Adobe's quiet new policy received some major-league flak in the industry, so this reversal could be the company’s response to such criticism. We asked Adobe to comment on the reasons for the amended upgrade policy as well as for specifics on upgrade pricing and details. The company hasn’t responded, but we’ll update the story if we hear back.
Hat Tip: Jim Dalrymple at The Loop.