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Adobe Confirms Release Cycle for Creative Suite; CS6 Out Mid-2012

[UPDATE (May 2012) – Creative Suite 6 is out!  So see our forecast for the next release.]

Adobe has publicly confirmed what they’ve been hinting for a while now: a new annual release schedule for the Creative Suite – with milestone releases in even years, and mid-cycle releases in odd years.  The shift comes as the technology world turns faster from the previous cycles of 18-24 months historically.

CS6 on the distant horizon - what would you like to see?

Adobe didn’t actually say what future CS versions would be named or called – but for the sake of simplicity, let’s presume they continue with the established trend…

This means after CS5 in 2010, and CS5.5 in 2011, we could reasonably expect CS6 to be coming out in 2012, CS6.5 in 2013, CS7 in 2014, and so on.

They also gave guidance on “when” during each year, the expected timing for the launches… What’s more (and importantly), Adobe Photoshop will be getting a significant upgrade in CS6, after relatively minor updates for CS5.5.

Read on below for the specific details from the recent conference call and subsequent question and answer session… Or just read the full transcript.

Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen

… We successfully launched Creative Suite 5.5, an update to the CS5 product family. The release features enhance­ments for mobile content and application creation, new innovations for HTML5 and Flash authoring, and amazing new features and produc­tivity improve­ments in our video authoring solutions.

CS5.5 is the first release in our transition to an annual release cycle, enabling us to deliver content creation innovations to our customers more frequently in response to the rapidly evolving marketplace.

Looking forward, expect this type of innovation to continue. We intend to ship the next milestone release of Creative Suite in 2012, and it will include an updated version of Photoshop.

Okay – that’s very good to know, helps reduce on the guessing – but when exactly next year will CS6 (or whatever the next major version of Creative Suite is called) be planned?


As far as the annual release cycles for CS, should we expect that the timing is going to be kind of consistent during one time of the year – like we’ll see CS every year in the April-May timeframe, or will it be kind of variable each year?

Adobe CEO

With annual releases, we’re still very focused right now on 5.5 and … continuing to drive through that cycle until we release the next version. But I think it is fair to say that when we go to an annual release, the cadence will be about the same quarter because that’s what really enables us even with enterprises to get to be far more of an annual release cycle and have maintenance be a more meaningful part of the business.


As you move to more of an annual cycle, will we see a condensation of when the languages roll out?

Adobe CEO

Yes, so as we did with CS5 itself, we are moving to a more consistent release schedule where all major languages are released at the same time. The reality is, we’re in a global world and so the day we announced the product, the interest – whether it’s in North America, whether it’s in another part of the world – is consistent. So yes, expect to see us do simultaneous releases of all major languages moving forward.

So, since CS5 came out in spring 2010, and CS5.5 in spring 2011 – basically this signals we’re looking at CS6 being launched in the spring of 2012, in English and other major languages at once.  Here’s how the big picture looks:

CS Release Date
Creative Suite 3 Spring 2007
Creative Suite 4 Fall 2008
Creative Suite 5 Spring 2010
Creative Suite 5.5 May 2011
Creative Suite 6 Mid-2012 (est.)
Creative Suite 6.5 Mid-2013 (est.)
Creative Suite 7 Mid-2014 (est.)
Creative Suite 7.5 Mid-2015 (est.)

But what’s this about a new release of Photoshop, features for the next version – what’s going to be in Photoshop CS6?

Adobe CEO

And I think people are looking forward … to the next release as well, because there’s a significant anticipation that’s being built up for all the cool things that we can do in imaging with Photoshop – and there’s a lot of exciting stuff underway.

[UPDATE (October 12th) – See the new “sneak peek” videos of Photoshop Image Deblurring and InDesign Liquid Layout from Adobe MAX 2011, plus many more for other products…]

Bottom line, knowing the future release schedule takes a lot of uncertainty out of the process… There’s always another release coming at some point, but now we know when. Historically, there have been folks who have held off buying Adobe software because they weren’t sure if that next version was “right around the corner” – where they would feel sheepish if they purchased just before that event. But now, knowing the release windows, you know what to expect – and can make an educated and informed purchase. We commend Adobe for changing their policy and making this information more public.

Listen to the entire conference call here, or read the transcript for more details.

See Also

CS6 Grace Period! Buy CS5.5 Now + Get Free Upgrade to CS6 When It Ships

Adobe: CS6 on Track for “Late in Q2” with Very Compelling New Features

Sneak Previews of CS6: Dreamweaver, InDesign, Flash Pro, Illustrator & Premiere

Win New Photoshop CS6 + Lightroom 4 FREE! ($1000 Giveaway)

What’s the Difference Between Photoshop CS6 vs. CS5 – What’s New in Features?

Give your input before it ships – what would you like to see in CS6?  Please share your thoughts below or at Adobe’s official feature request “wishlist”
To follow this story going forward, subscribe to our RSS feed or like us on Facebook or Twitter… You can also enter your email and have new articles sent directly to your Inbox. We are reader-supported; when you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

[Photo credit: Adam Hart-Davis, Atacama Desert, Chile, South America.]


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43 thoughts on “Adobe Confirms Release Cycle for Creative Suite; CS6 Out Mid-2012”

  1. Question… I’m a n00b when it comes to Adobe CS products, but if I buy CS5.5 will I need to pay full price for CS6? Or will it be an upgrade price? Thanks!

    • Hi Peter, thanks for your question. Yes, if you own CS5.5, you will definitely get a heavily-discounted upgrade price to move up to CS6 next year…

      We can’t know yet what those costs will be exactly. But historically, the reductions have been large – for example, upgraders to CS5.5 Design Premium today who already own CS5 pay only ~20% of the cost of a full version of CS5.5.

      And this is less than what it cost to move from CS4 to CS5 Design Premium, which was ~32% of the full price.

      So Adobe is asking a good bit less to move the half steps than the full steps…

      What they are trying to do is help keep folks on the current versions, by charging a smaller amount – and this is consistent with their tiered upgrade pricing policy, where the further back one is, the larger the cost to upgrade to the latest version.

      If you do the math, the customer who upgrades every year pays about 10% more for the benefit and productivity of always having the newest version and features, and best performance, versus the customer who upgrades every two years.

      See the complete price list for Adobe CS5.5 in major countries and currencies.

      Hope this helps!

  2. Will CS3 owners be eligible for upgrade pricing to CS6? It would be consistent with the last couple of versions if so (i.e. CS -> CS4, and CS2 -> CS5 being possible), but I’m wondering whether Adobe has changed this policy (or is considering changing it). Thanks very much!

    • You’re right Ben – Adobe’s current policy is you can upgrade at a greatly discounted price going up to three versions back

      So right now, the oldest release that can still qualify for this reduced pricing is CS2 (going up to CS5.5).

      Now whether they change that policy for CS6 is uncertain… As you point out, it’s been that way for a few years, so it may continue – but it might not.  No one could tell you for sure until CS6 comes out.

      [UPDATE (Nov. 2011) – Adobe has actually just changed the future policy to be “one version back” for CS6!]

      One thing we do believe is likely is the price to upgrade from CS3 to CS5.5 and then from CS5.5 to CS6 would not cost too much more than going from CS3 to CS6…

      This is because the price to move from CS4 to CS5 was significantly greater than the current “half-step” cost now to move from CS5 to CS5.5, and Adobe wants to help incentivize people to keep current with the latest releases.

      Hopefully this helps sort it out a bit.

  3. I’m concerned about the pricing. I currently own CS5 Master Collection and I’m worried that the major upgrade to CS6 will cost me more than if I upgrade to CS5.5.

    Will there be a heavily-reduced discount price for those who upgrade with major release cycles?

    • Good question Lucas. We can’t say what Adobe’s upgrade pricing will be yet for Creative Suite 6 – it hasn’t been announced. However, they haven’t changed it much over the years – so your best estimate is to use the pricing in place now for a similar move…

      What does this mean? Well, here’s a little analysis for you – this is the way it has worked for CS4, CS5, and CS5.5 (taking Design Premium as an example):

      – To upgrade from CS4 Design Premium to CS5 cost $599.

      – To upgrade from CS5 Design Premium to CS5.5 costs $399.

      So to go a “half step” costs a little more than half as much than to go a full step. That makes sense because Adobe has some extra expenses for issuing and managing the mid-cycle release. And people who buy the software now benefit by getting a more current version than CS5.0 was (from April 2010).

      So what this hints to us is that an upgrade from CS5.5 to CS6 would be likely to also cost $399, and probably no more than that because Adobe wants to incentivize people to stay as current as possible with the latest-and-greatest releases.

      Bottom line: In our analysis going from CS5 to CS6 directly would cost $599, while upgrading from CS5 to CS5.5 and then later on to CS6 would pay a slight premium over that of $198, for the privilege of always having the best new features, speed, and productivity.

  4. Does Adobe have a student upgrade price? I am just starting my college classes on the Adobe suites and when considering purchasing the Master Suite for Students, I am seriously having to weigh whether I should buy it now or wait until the release of CS6, as I will need it for at least 3 years while in college.

    What is Adobe doing, if anything, to move towards catering to student needs during these hard economic times?

    • Hello Tim, thanks for your comment. Just got back from Adobe MAX in L.A. but didn’t hear anything like that. You have to be careful about what you hear on rumors about CS6 – there’s always a lot of stuff flying around about the next releases, but Adobe rarely says much of anything on specifics so typically little of it is true.

      Just think about it from the other side – it wouldn’t really be in the company’s best interests to have such high hardware requirements that would rule out most existing computers. Also, there are many applications contained within the Creative Suite and the system requirements are different for each and every one of them, so really there is no single same minimum for all products.

  5. I find that most companies are not on CS5 yet. It took me a few years to upgrade from CS1. Adobe assuming that the majority of their customers will upgrade yearly is very impertinent. Basically, Adobe is creating yearly revenue instead of providing innovations. 5.5 is a perfect example. The differences between 5.0 is not worth the $399 price tag to upgrade.

    I still work on CS1, because no one I work with is on CS5 yet and some of CS5 is not backward compatible. Most are not willing to upgrade because they don’t see the need.

    • Greetings Alberto, thank you for your thoughts. Everybody’s needs are different, and each according to their needs. There’s a lot of variability out there, so your experience is bound to be unique.

      Most of the people and companies we know are actually already on CS5 or CS5.5, a handful still on CS4/CS3. In nearly three years of our site’s existence and thousands of visitor comments, you’re the first we’ve ever heard still running CS1, so in our experience that’s unusual.

      In any event, there actually are quite a few significant new features in CS5.5 versus CS5, just not in all products. So, your mileage may vary depending on which ones you use and how much time it would (or wouldn’t) save you to upgrade.

      In our case, it pays for itself based solely on the use of Dreamweaver and the video applications (AE and Premiere). And for folks buying new full copies here, they’re getting a fresher product for the same price with CS5.5, than if CS5 were still the most recent release.

      Lastly, as for what innovations will be in CS6 – nobody can say for sure yet, although there are some new “sneak peek” videos out for Photoshop, as well as for InDesign, and several other tools.

      Thanks for your feedback and please stop back anytime.

  6. Hi, in April 2011 I purchased an upgrade of InDesign CS3 to CS5. Since it was right before the release of the CS5.5, does that mean I’m eligible for a free upgrade to CS5.5? I do not have the whole CS suite, just Adobe InDesign and an older PhotoShop (CS2), which I plan to upgrade when CS6 is released.

  7. Hi again, I asked a question on October 21st concerning a free upgrade to InDesign 5.5. I now received the information that the Adobe PAU (post-announce upgrade policy) is no longer available or has expired?? I have no idea what Adobe is talking about. If I had known there was a PAU and for how long it lasted – I would definitely have contacted Adobe sooner, but I didn’t, just like I didn’t know Adobe was going to release a CS5.5 version just after I purchased CS5.

    A colleague in a different country told me about the CS5.5 and right away I contacted Adobe, and from the rules described it seems that I’m eligible for a free upgrade – but then they come up with a lame excuse that the PAU has expired. Excuse me, but this is not a fair way of running a business, I feel cheated……

    • Hi Anne, sorry to hear that – we weren’t aware of it. Some have said that Adobe should make the grace period for complimentary upgrades longer, or publicize it more, and we have pushed for that. Hopefully that will happen in the future. In the meantime, you can communicate your feedback with the Customer Service department in your area.

      We also recommend staying tuned to our site here – as you see from article above, we try to “handicap” the timing of all coming Adobe releases! See the upper right of the page for how to subscribe.

  8. Hi, I’m a recent design graduate. At the time of my studies I bought a student edition of CS4 Master Collection. I’ll be very interested in upgrading to a full professional version of CS6 Master Collection in the new year as my career develops.

    My question is, when I purchase CS6 can I avail of an upgrade price (moving from student CS4 to pro CS6)? Or do I need to purchase a ‘Full Version’ of CS6?

    Many thanks,

    • Great question James, and if Adobe keeps their current policy when CS6 comes out, then you would be able to qualify for the discounted upgrade pricing to go from CS4 to CS6.

      That’s one of the great advantages of the Student Editions actually, that you can upgrade from them to full commercial versions at Adobe’s discounted price – the same price that regular (pro) owners get.

      The one caveat is we can’t be sure what the policies will look like when CS6 ships, or whether Adobe will change them from what is offered for CS5, but that’s how it works currently with CS5.5.

  9. Any idea what the computer requirements will be for CS6? I am looking to buy a new computer this winter, and want to make sure that it is CS6-ready. Thanks.

  10. @ Tim
    Not going to happen, Only a small percentage of mac users have an i7 processor. Most notebook users have a core 2 duo or i3, iMac usually have i3-i7. Adobe would be throwing away more than 50% of the money they would make if it was only i7.

    • Great follow-up question Lucas. We can’t say for sure yet as Adobe has not announced upgrade pricing for CS6 – we’re still a good ways away yet, and typically they don’t give that until the product is released.

      If it works like it has in the past with Adobe’s Tiered Upgrade Pricing Policy, then yes – the more recent your current version is, the lower the upgrade price you receive… (CS5 was launched in April 2010, and CS5.5 was released in May 2011)

  11. Blah, I think I need to pay more attention I nearly screwed up as I was waiting for CS6 to come out to upgrade, however now I will be upgrading (ok I have upgraded in the middle of typing this) to 5.5 from CS4 (Web Premium).

    Side note: now that Adobe forces us to upgrade every major version, I really hope they drop the upgrade pricing a little bit – I’m poor and only do this as a hobby. Though I really doubt they will. That or a Home edition for non-commercial use at a cheaper rate would be nice. I’m not a student yet nor do I use this for commercial use. So now I’m sort of stuck paying full price and yet not using this to make money (and Elements is junk for what I need). :P

    • brian :

      I’m not a student yet nor do I use this for commercial use. So now I’m sort of stuck paying full price and yet not using this to make money (and Elements is junk for what I need). :P

      Greetings Brian, thanks for your thoughts. When you say, “you’re not a student yet,” curious what you meant by that? Did you mean to say you’re not a student anymore?

      Because pretty much all students of various ages are potentially eligible to buy Adobe’s Student Editions, if that hasn’t been clear. You don’t have to be in college or university.

      However, because you can’t upgrade between student editions, the price to buy a whole new education version vs. just upgrading what you already have at the regularly discounted upgrade price (what you just did) is usually not a big difference in cost.

  12. Hi, what is the typical window for getting a free upgrade to the newest version? I am starting a Photoshop for Photographers course at a local college, which entitles me to buy software at student prices at the College computer store. Do you think we are close enough to the release of CS6 that if I buy CS5.5 now I would be eligible for a free upgrade?

    Also, would this be impacted, do you think, by the fact that it would be a student version I would own?

    • Welcome Mike – typically in the past it’s been a few weeks, like with the grace period for CS5.5… And yes, the student editions were covered just like the regular ones.

      However there is no guarantee that Adobe will continue to offer the grace period in the future… It does make good sense, but each time it’s decided differently by the company – and we can’t say what they will do.

      But importantly, note that with their current Refund & Return Policy you can (in effect) create your own grace period for a free upgrade within 30 days for any product you buy – which is pretty cool.

      As far as how close we are to the release of CS6 – nobody can tell you that for certain, but it’s very probably going to be more like a few months rather than a few weeks.

      Hope that helps!

  13. Thank you for posting this ProDesign. I have a copy of CS4 and was so close to upgrading to 5.5 due to all the coupons Adobe has been sending me. I’ll wait another 4 months (hopefully) for CS6 to come out. I also hope they include Edge with CS6. That would be supreme for us non-developers that need to use JQuery for animation since mobile Flash is gone.

    • Hey there Bobby, thanks for your question. Adobe has not released any CS6 system requirements yet, so we can really only speculate… But it seems unlikely that they would only support the absolute latest release of Mac OS. Probably most folks are still on earlier versions than Lion, so it wouldn’t make sense to leave out that huge customer base.

      Also, if you look at the current CS5 system requirements, you’ll see that Adobe supports the two or three most recent releases.

      So, we think you’ll be fine with running CS6 on Snow Leopard.

  14. I upgraded to CS6 collection (for graphic and web design) from CS4, I’m on the subscription. Looking back I may as well have stuck with CS4, as the upgrades are so minimal I have noticed little change with the core programs PS ILL InD DW, its hardly worth the effort. I have been using Adobe products for around 15 years and the last 2 “upgrades” have been little more that rebranding to get upgrade revenue in my opinion, and make sure I can’t open my new files if I go back to the old version, grumble, grumble…


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