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Home > Tools October 14th, 2010

Adobe Working on New Release of Creative Suite 5 (CS5.3? CS5.5?)

[UPDATE (April 11th)Adobe CS5.5 is out!  See also when CS6 is penciled.]

Last week Adobe held a private briefing for partners under non-disclosure agreement, where they gave “an overview of the upcoming Creative Suite release”… While we can’t speak to what transpired within the presentation, the invitation itself is publicly available.

See what could be in the next release... CS5.3? CS5.5?

Given that the next release of Adobe Acrobat is due out within a matter of weeks (see why and when, or get a chance to win a free upgrade to Acrobat 10 Pro), and given the two year age of Acrobat 9, it’s likely Adobe would be refreshing CS5 with the addition of the new Acrobat X. When Acrobat moved from version 7 to version 8, Adobe subsequently updated the Creative Suite and issued CS2.3 – and then once again when Acrobat revisioned from 8 to 9, Adobe incorporated the new version into CS3.3 in 2008. Acrobat 9 is still what we have today in CS5 – but since it’s obviously way too early for CS6, it seems a safe bet we’ll be seeing a point release (CS 5.3?) that would incorporate the new Acrobat 10.

But from reading the briefing invitation, it looks like there will be more in store for this next release than “just” integrating the new version Acrobat X Pro. It says, “… an overview of the upcoming CS release with a focus on InDesign and ePublishing…” Adobe has been hard at work on a new Digital Publishing Platform (you may have seen or read about the tablet editions of WIRED or The New Yorker magazines) that ties in with InDesign, and is (over)due to be made available on Adobe Labs. It seems logical that this would also be part of a CS5 point release, as it is a major deal for magazine and print publishers to deliver their content to the iPad, iPhone, Android, and other mobile devices, and has been quite successful thus far… But since the publishing tools haven’t yet been released in beta form on the Labs, it could be a while longer before the final version of this new technology is ready for the world at large.

There are hints that other applications may be receiving updates as well – for example the Flex team has been slipping out sneak peek videos for the next version of Flash Builder, code­named “Burrito.” There’s also talk by Adobe of some future vector drawing improvements for Photoshop CS5 (for vector shapes and layer effects – strokes, gradients, etc.). And finally there’s an unnamed “cool” new Adobe product in development that aims to improve the way visual people create for the Web.

Add it all up and it means we may not see a CS5.3 released at the same time Adobe Acrobat 10 ships, but rather a larger upgrade to more products (CS5.4 or CS5.5?) coming out a bit further down the road, perhaps sometime during the winter or spring… In the meantime, undoubtedly, we should expect that when AA10 arrives it will work well as a separate upgrade add-on to CS5, if desired.

[UPDATE (October 18th) — Confirmed! Adobe Acrobat X was just announced this morning and the following appears in Adobe’s Acrobat X FAQ — “Q: When will Adobe CS5 include Acrobat X Pro? A: Because Adobe CS5 contains so many applications, it isn’t always possible to update the entire suite edition when a single product release becomes available. Acrobat X Pro will be included in the next dot release of Creative Suite.”]

One question: If you buy Creative Suite 5 now, what would an eventual point upgrade cost? (e.g., from CS5 to CS5.5) Well, the best yardstick we have is what it cost in previous years to move from CSx to CSx.3… The price was $159 in both cases for the suite upgrade, which is the same as the cost to upgrade just Acrobat Pro from one version to the next. Obviously we can’t state what Adobe’s future pricing will be, but if past history is any guide then it could be close to this. And of course, if you’re happy with CS5 as it is and wouldn’t need these updates, you wouldn’t need to upgrade to CS5.x.

What would you like to see in a CS5 point release? Please share your thoughts below and/or at Adobe’s official feature request “wishlist”

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  1. tb

    … are there any whispers of CS binaries for Linux? Please :-)

  2. SB

    I got sent a survey from Adobe asking what price I would pay for a CS5.5 release.
    List of new features were tweaks and features that should have made 5.0 in my mind.
    I answered I would not purchase any of the upgrades so soon after the previous release, it feels like they are just trying to drain cash out of us.

    Upgrade price examples were $179 for Design Web and Production versions $169 for Standard versions and $239 for Master Collection suite of CS5.

    CS4 upgrades shot to $349-$699

    I have screen grab of the survey from International Planning and Research Corporation.

    • Hello SB, thank you for sharing your thoughts on a potential CS5.5 and appreciate your sentiment… In the past there’s also been some controversy when Adobe has offered a paid point release upgrade between major cycles. If the major release cycle is 18-24 months, then some folks don’t feel they want to pay for a second upgrade within half that time, say 9-12 months. This is understand­able, although some might argue that industry and technology change so rapidly these days that the normal period between major Creative Suite releases can be a long time in this context.

      The good news is that nobody forces us to upgrade… It’s there if we need it or want it, but CS5 is a great release on its own. If you think that CS5.5 has enough to offer then upgrade, otherwise don’t and nothing will change. Brand new customers will be happy because they’ll be getting an even better product – but regardless, CS5.0 will still continue to work terrifically as it does now for those who have it.

      Concerning features, CS5 has hundreds of new features and improvements over CS4 and there’s only so much that can be added into each major new release. Adobe’s development resources (staff and time) are naturally finite and if something else was to be added, then presumably something existing would have to be cut or deferred.

      As a side note – those prices, if they become final, are actually pretty good. Adobe Acrobat 10 is a significant improvement to the suite over Acrobat 9, so if you can upgrade the entire CS5 suite to CS5.5 for little more than the cost of just upgrading Acrobat Pro separately, that seems like a good deal. And for upgrading to CS5.5 from CS4, your prices sound great – currently it costs $499-$899 to upgrade to CS5 from CS4, so the prices you quoted are actually a reduction, for a bigger upgrade.

      The bottom line for most customers is whether the incremental features, enhancements, and efficiencies in any new release (major or minor) are enough to justify the expense of the upgrade – after all, time is money, and if any product saves enough time it will pay for itself.

  3. Bret

    I was hoping that I’d get an upgrade to Acrobat 10 but that doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen. I’m trying to stay ahead of the game by upgrading, even when my work is slow in coming around to CS5. For them to upgrade to CS5.5? I don’t know. This is a company with a lot of licenses (if and when they upgrade all their licenses). I’m not seeing a lot of CS5 files coming in yet, mostly by one client. Good customer service would be taking care of your customer, not paying more for products we were expecting to get (Acrobat X).

    • Greetings Bret, appreciate the comment. For better or worse, Creative Suite and Acrobat are on different development cycles, and whenever Adobe has upgraded CS with a newer version of Acrobat in the past, it’s always been a paid upgrade (e.g., CS2.3, CS3.3). Typically the cost of the upgrade has been close to the price of upgrading Acrobat standalone – so if you decide you’d benefit from the major upgrade of this application, you can do it in the suite for about the same price.

      Now it may be a bit different this time because it looks like Adobe may also be upgrading several other products within the suites, so the price differential correspondingly may be higher.

      Yes, it would be nice to get it for free, but on the other hand the version that we purchased in CS5 (Web Premium in our case) will continue to work fine as when we bought it, with Acrobat 9. Acrobat X is admittedly pretty nice though, and getting good reviews.

      We have discussions around the office on this topic, because there are clearly some folks like yourself who don’t seem to want any other version of Creative Suite put out before CS6 – but we usually come back to not seeing the harm. If there were no CS5.5, then people buying/upgrading the product in six months would still be buying CS5, which isn’t as good for those customers. If there is a CS5.5, then future buyers/upgraders will benefit more than if they had to wait until CS6 – the product is just fresher.

      For example, if your company wants to upgrade more of its licenses to CS5 down the road, wouldn’t it be better to get CS5.5, for the same cost? Otherwise it could be a long wait if we don’t see CS6 until 2012.

      In any event, current CS5 customers can either keep what they have no problem, or optionally do the minor upgrade – but either way it’s your choice and won’t impact the featureset or performance of the product you purchased. Unless a vendor offers free upgrades (rare), it’s the same phenomenon faced by pretty much any buyer of techonology, as it continually moves on.

  4. Tiff

    If I buy the student and teacher creative suite, does anyone know if I will be able to get the dot release for it? I have a college project for which I could do with the new portfolio wizzbangery in acrobat X coming up, and I am right confused about what I should do with my one available licence.

  5. Tiff

    Hey thanks for the swift reply.. For clarity, I realise that the student/teacher versions aren’t usually upgradeable at a discount, but I _would_ still be able to pay the commercial point release update price to get acrobat X for example? I wouldn’t be stuck with something that I couldn’t upgrade until CS6 came out, right? Nothing is clear!

    • Yes Tiff, that’s correct – all of Adobe’s academic editions are upgradeable to the full commercial versions at the discounted upgrade price, if your current version is recent enough

      So, if Adobe offered paid upgrades to a CS5.5, then you could potentially qualify for that. For more information on how the student editions work, please see the link in our previous response – and that should help clear everything up. Thanks and good luck!