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Adobe Sets Grace Period for CS6: Buy CS5 Now + Get Free Upgrade

[UPDATE (May 7th) – Creative Suite 6 is now shipping!]

This morning Adobe opened an official “grace period” for free upgrades to Creative Suite 6 for anyone who purchases the current Creative Suite software version today (full or upgrade), and for the next six weeks. This is a “first” for the company – formalizing and announcing a complimentary upgrade offer in advance – and means that if you buy CS5.5 or CS5 now (depending on the application), you will receive a free upgrade to CS6 when it comes out, which can save you significant money…

Buy CS5.5 Now and Get CS6 at No Additional Cost! Hurry - Ends May 6

This news follows on the heels of the release of the free public Photoshop CS6 beta version last week (download here) – and opens the door for owners of older versions of Creative Suite such as CS4, CS3, and even CS2 with a clear upgrade path to CS6 at today’s current prices. Adobe puts this plainly in the Offer FAQ:

“If you upgrade to or purchase CS5.5 today, you’ll be paying the current price, plus you’ll get CS6 at no additional cost.   If you wait until CS6 ships, you’ll pay the price to upgrade to CS6, which may be higher.”

This Upgrade Assurance promotion is valid largely worldwide* for all commercial, education, government, and volume customers, and is good for individual applications as well as suites. It includes most current CS products (but not all – Acrobat, Flash Catalyst, Flash Builder, Con­tribute, and OnLocation individual products are excluded – although suites containing them are covered).  The free upgrades are definitely included for all new orders of Photoshop CS5 and Illustrator CS5, and CS5.5 versions for all the rest.

The “grandfather” offer begins today and expires on May 6th, which could give somewhat of a confirmation on the expected CS6 shipping date… After all, it wouldn’t make much sense to stop the offer and flow of orders before the new version became available. Then, within ten days of the Creative Suite 6 release, customers will receive an email with instructions and a unique coupon code to receive the one-time free upgrade (download version) to the equiva­lent CS6 product. Full CS6 product support and free updates/fixes are included, as with all purchases.

So the advantages here are threefold: (1) you get current software available for immediate download, (2) you will receive a more mature release if you prefer and can move up later at your leisure, and (3) you save money by winning a lower upgrade cost (e.g., from CS2, CS3, CS4, or CS5.0), because you’re buying fewer steps to go up.  For example, you’ll save almost 50%(!) by moving from CS5.0 Design Premium to CS5.5 today (with a gratis upgrade later), than to go from CS5 to CS6 after this offer expires… If you wait it will cost you more!

And with Adobe’s Three Versions Back Upgrade Policy, present owners of CS2 will not even be eligible to upgrade to CS6, except temporarily here via this offer while it lasts… So really this is the last chance to upgrade for anybody still running CS2 tools.

With this new Creative Suite Upgrade Assurance Program, you no longer need to worry about purchasing the latest version as you’ll receive a complimentary upgrade to CS6 upon release. You get tomorrow’s software at today’s prices, with the best of both worlds: buy or upgrade to CS5 to use now, and then later get a free update to CS6 when you—and it—are ready. To get Creative Suite 5, just look for “Can’t wait? Order the previous version now” when you order.

Buy Adobe CS5.5 Now and Get a Free Upgrade

There are some specific terms for eligibility – so you might want to double-check the policy to make sure you’ll qualify…

If you want to try the software out for free first, no problem – you can download the Creative Suite 5 trial and then convert it to permanent by May 6th.

Activate now

See Also

Adobe: CS6 to Ship “Late in Q2″ with Very Compelling New Features

Revealed! What’s New in CS6 for Premiere Pro, After Effects, and Audition

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.

* Offer valid in the following stores:  Europe – Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and the UK.  North America – U.S., Canada, and Mexico.  Elsewhere – Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

Adobe customers will receive instructions by email no later than May 25, 2012, which will be sent to the email address you used for your qualifying order. The email will contain a unique coupon code that you’ll need to claim your complimentary upgrade by August 5, 2012.


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109 thoughts on “Adobe Sets Grace Period for CS6: Buy CS5 Now + Get Free Upgrade”

  1. Awesome ! Finally, a green light.

    Thank you for the update, why doesn’t Adobe make it more public? I didn’t see any PR.

    • Hi Ryan, that’s a good question. A lot of times with things like these, they don’t broadcast it too loudly. They’ve had grace periods in the past, but since this is the first time they’ve ever clearly specified all the terms in advance, they probably want to see how it goes.

      But on the whole, we think it’s a good thing and part of a new openness at Adobe… We have been lobbying to make this process clearer for customers and are happy to see it finally come to light.

  2. Purchased CS5.5 Design Premium on the 14th of this month. After seeing your post, tried to find out if I’d be able to upgrade to CS6 for free as well. No luck through Adobe Live Chat Rep. Said call the Sales Department. I’m sure they’ll be getting a ton of inquiries like mine in the next few weeks. Thanks for the great post!

    • Hi Char, thanks for your comment. If you purchased CS5.5 recently then it may be worth a shot to contact Adobe and check, but unfortunately it’s unlikely to get a free upgrade to CS6 because the policy and program started today (March 26th) and regrettably they had to make the cutoff somewhere…

      However, if you’re unhappy with how it worked out and want to return the product you purchased for any reason, Adobe does always offer a regular 30-Day Refund Policy. Then you can take it from there.

      In any event, CS5.5 is still a great release. Good luck with it!

    • Hello JS, not sure about that – you’d have to check with Adobe Customer Service on that one.

      If it were permitted, there would likely be paperwork and waiting involved because it would be external. On the whole, it’s simplest and safest to just get it direct from Adobe, because then they already have everything they need to send you the free upgrade voucher right away – and there would be no chance of rejection. Plus you can download the software instantly in all cases.

  3. Does this apply to products purchased at student and teacher pricing, the education editions?

    It’s not really made clear on the special offers page or in the terms and FAQ.

    • Welcome Suzanne, yes – if you look at the bottom of the description on the Adobe Specials page you’ll see it includes links for “Buy for home/office,” “Buy for student/teacher,” and “Buy for small business”

      We also have separate partner communications direct from Adobe management that confirms it:

      “We wanted you to be aware that, beginning today, Adobe will make available a special offer to Adobe® Creative Suite® customers. Customers who purchase Creative Suite 5.5 any time between March 26 and May 6, 2012 will receive a one-time upgrade to the equivalent Creative Suite 6 product at no additional cost when it ships publicly. The offer is valid for commercial, education, government, and volume licensing customers. Please see the FAQ for complete details, as dates and availability vary by country.”

      So go for it!

    • Greetings Adam, sorry if you won’t qualify… Usually Adobe offers a grace period that only runs a few weeks back from the eventual ship date (like with CS5 and CS5.5).

      Here they are actually extending it quite a bit as the CS6 Upgrade Assurance offer runs for six weeks – which is a record long time for the company, with any product ever. But unfortunately, they still had to set the limiting dates somewhere so regrettably not everyone will be covered by it.

    • Yes, that’s a good point Jane – thank you for your thoughts… Here at PDT we try to keep our readers abreast of important news including when the next release is coming out, and were already giving CS6 forecasts going back to last year

      If you want to know in the future then just Subscribe in the box at the upper right of the page using your favorite method, and we promise to continue doing the same!

  4. What happens if you buy it now and install cs6 via the online voucher and later you decide to reinstall your mac/pc?

    Is it then still possible to install cs6 after the reinstall? Because once in a while i like to reinstall my mac/pc so that it keeps running quickly.

  5. I don’t like the idea that it is download only. I prefer the boxed shipment. So not sure if I’ll take advantage of this offer, it may depend on the upgrade price from already owning CS5. If I remember correctly, they usually have the prices up before the end the offer. It’s been 2 years so I could be wrong.

    • Well, it’s probably download-only on the free upgrade to try to reduce the cost of the promotion, so that they’re not sending out multiple boxes…

      Be aware though, as soon as CS6 is released you will no longer be able to buy CS5.5 from Adobe with this offer – they change their site literally overnight. They usually don’t give notice of when that will happen, so if you’re interested in this deal and upgrading to CS6 less expensively, then taking advantage of it now would be the best strategy.

    • There’s no CS6 pricing available yet, but we hope it will be similar to what’s in place for CS5.5 now

      Except of course, that it will cost more to upgrade a suite in the future from CS4 to CS6 than it does today to upgrade from CS4 to CS5 – which is why this free CS6 upgrade program is attractive and saves money.

  6. @ProDesignTools

    Yes I know about that. I’m not really interested in 5.5. I just know that they usually give out the prices before this offer has ended. By then I can make an informed decision of which way I wish to go. If the upgrade to 6 is still in a reasonable range, I may just do the normal upgrade and forgo the offer. It all depends on exactly how important getting CS6 is for me.

    • Hi Mick, that’s unclear… Is “B&H” an official Adobe-authorized reseller? Only if that’s absolutely true could it possibly work.

      And for anything external, there would be forms and paperwork involved, plus waiting for approval because they’ll need to review everything.

      So if there’s any doubt, remember that all Adobe-direct purchases and downloads qualify automatically with expedited upgrades to CS6, and zero chance of rejection.

      Hope that helps!

  7. What is meant by “one-time”? Do they mean that the upgrade can only be downloaded once, or that the upgrade can only be installed once? For instance if I get CS 5.5 and then upgrade to CS6, then a few months later I need to reinstall Windows, does this mean I would have to go back to CS 5.5?

    • No, sorry Gary if that wasn’t clearer… It just means you get a one-time free permanent upgrade to CS6, but not any further than that (i.e., no future free upgrades to CS6.5 or CS7 from your purchase today).

      As far as moving your software between your computers, or reinstalling as needed – no worries, that should be easy.

  8. Thanks for the news.

    I guess that buying into CS5 now and then getting the free upgrade is only a good move if CS6 is at least the same price as CS5 is currently. Do we know for sure that this is the case? LR4 had a hefty price reduction recently.


    • Hello Jon, that’s a fair question for new buyers… We don’t expect any price reductions for CS6 actually. Adobe’s trend over the years has rather been slight edging up of the prices, for both Creative Suite and Acrobat products. So if anything, the costs to upgrade to CS6 could be a little higher than they are now, as was hinted by the quote from Adobe’s Offer FAQ in the article above.

      Lightroom 4 as you note recently had a nice price drop largely because a major competitor in the space had also lowered their price significantly. But there isn’t any such comparable situation with the CS tools.

      Lastly, don’t forget – importantly – that for most customers on older releases, it will be a greater number of steps to upgrade to CS6 than to CS5.5, so that will make the normal CS6 upgrade price higher under Adobe’s tiered upgrade pricing policy. So, it could be a significant savings by paying less to get up to CS5 now, with the free further upgrade later.

      Hope this helps!

  9. Hello,

    It’s Daniel again (I been here quite a few times hehe), I’m considering doing the Adobe Master Collection at student price again since I’m a part-time student.

    Now I know that I can buy direct from Adobe, but I found that my computer store has it cheaper.

    Now when I got the MC CS5, I got it from my local computer store and it was all good.

    My question is:

    How will I know if i buy from my local store if I will get the free upgrade? Also if I buy the boxed version (CS5.5), will I get CS6 as boxed or download only?

    • Good to see you again Daniel, thanks for stopping by. To answer your questions, please see the earlier comment and response with Mick.

      It’s probably unlikely that your neighborhood computer store is an officially authorized retailer, but you can can check Adobe’s online list if you want to see.

      In any event, there’s more headache and uncertainty trying to take advantage of this deal through third parties because of the paperwork and extra processing involved, as well as a very real chance of rejection. One thing we’ve noticed over the years is Adobe getting tougher on their specific rules and requirements for things like rebates, software transfers, etc. If your application is off – missing one aspect, or doesn’t carefully meet all of the rules – they won’t accept it, and then you’d be stuck.

      On the other hand, if you get the software direct from Adobe then there is practically nothing that can go wrong because they have all the records and exact proof they need and they will just send you the complimentary upgrade automatically… There is nothing further you have to do, it’s a done deal.

      As to your second question – the gratis CS6 upgrade is always the download version, whether you purchase Creative Suite 5 either in boxed or download form. Hope this helps!

  10. I wonder how Adobe is going to handle the backlash from enterprise purchases.
    Most corporations will kill any future purchases if they don’t allow a real upgrade path to their investment into Adobe products.
    Giving recent purchasers a free pass would piss off a lot of dedicated users.

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts Eric, but not really sure what you mean by that. The free upgrade grace period applies for everyone, including all current business/corporate/enterprise purchases as well.

      There’s no real downside for anyone here, it just means CS6 is on sale early and less expensively for all customers going forward… The release window is opened sooner.

  11. Hi,

    Adobe does not offer the option to purchase CS Student & Teacher Editions off its online store in India. The only one offered is to buy a copy through an Authorised Adobe Reseller. I am guessing this would be a boxed version of the software.

    If I (being a student) were to pick up a copy of CS 5.5 Design Premium through an Authorised Adobe Reseller in India, would I be eligible for this ‘time-limited free upgrade to CS6’ offer?

    Please let me know, as my research online did not seem to indicate that India was one of the geographic regions qualifying for this offer.


  12. I’m wondering, does it make sense to update CS5 Design Standard to CS5.5 Design Standard now even though there are no differences in PS and Illustrator (the only two apps I use)? As I see it:

    – Questionable advantage: The upgrade from CS5 Design Standard to CS6 Design standard may end up costing more if I wait for CS6 to be released. On the other hand, it may not.

    – Disadvantage: I would get CS6 as a download only upon release (I’m one of those people who prefer to have a box on the shelf)

    By the way, the download version in the Adobe store is more expensive than the boxed version. Go figure.

    • Welcome Eve, thanks for your question. You would almost certainly save money if you did that. Here’s why:

      In the U.S., the cost to upgrade from CS4 Design Premium to CS5 was $600. We expect the same price to move from CS5 Design Premium to CS6.

      However, the cost to upgrade from CS5 Design Premium to CS5.5 is only $400. So, anyone taking advantage of this limited-time offer now will probably save US$200 (or 33%) by not waiting.

      The prices may be different in your country, but the relative amounts are likely similar.

      As for Photoshop and Illustrator being the same between CS5 and CS5.5 – that wouldn’t really be a factor since your ultimate goal is Photoshop CS6 and Illustrator CS6, right? And buying the CS5.5 suite now will get you CS6 free in May.

  13. I so agree. I too prefer a box on the shelf, and I’m going to wait until the last day because if not mistaken, the prices are up by then. It’ll give me a better idea of what I’m wanting to do. To upgrade from CS5 to CS5.5 for me is only $540.00 I checked. I have the Master Collection. @Eve

    • Well, if you wait then you risk not being able to take advantage of the offer, because Adobe will stop selling CS5.5 immediately as soon as CS6 is available… They will only sell you CS6 from the very moment it comes out. And the date and time of that release is unknown, it’s not public information.

      For Master Collection the cost to upgrade a full step from CS4 to CS5 was $900. But the half-step upgrade move from CS5 to CS5.5 now is only $550.

      So, that’s an even bigger savings there (US$350 or 40% less) if you get the free upgrade bonus with CS5.5 to CS6 Master Collection.

  14. @ Char

    I purchased Creative Suite 5.5 on March 6th. I heard the qualification window for the free upgrade was going to go back 90 days prior to this announce­ment. They should allow some leeway. I will be pissed if they don’t let me upgrade for free. Regular people don’t just have this kind of money sitting around.

    • Greetings Todd, thanks for your comment. Three things to note:

      1. We have not heard that about the 90 days, and don’t think it’s right. The free upgrade offer period began on March 26th, 2012 and runs through April… Here are the exact terms for the upgrade offer.

      2. CS5.5 is still a great release.

      3. Even if you can’t qualify for an automatic free upgrade to CS6 with that, if you are unhappy with your purchase then Adobe has a 30-day Refund Policy to ensure customer satisfaction.

      Hope this helps.

  15. Eve :I’m wondering, does it make sense to update CS5 Design Standard to CS5.5 Design Standard now even though there are no differences in PS and Illustrator (the only two apps I use)? As I see it: –

    I wonder about this too, since we have a few Photoshop Extended licenses stuck at CS5. Sure, we got to upgrade to Photoshop CS5.1 free – but how does it go to CS6, when technically there was no Photoshop CS5.5?

    We have a ton of Master and Production seats purchased back in August.

    That is what I’m referring too in my earlier post.

    Do they get a free upgrade? Not according to the “purchase now” option.

    • Hello again Eric – absolutely, positively, definitely, 100% certainly any valid purchases of Photoshop CS5 now will get the free upgrade to Photoshop CS6 when it comes out.

      The same thing goes for Illustrator CS5 (which also didn’t have an Illustrator CS5.5 version) – you’ll receive Illustrator CS6 too, at no extra charge.

      Also any CS5.5 standalone products, or CS5.5 suites – they all get free ugprades to CS6 when it ships.

      Read the official offer terms right here:

      “Customers who purchase the most current Adobe® Creative Suite® software version, available through the online Adobe Store …”

      And Photoshop CS5 and Illustrator CS5 are definitely the most current right now.

      Lastly, if you go to the Photoshop CS5 purchase page at the Adobe Store, you’ll see the offer linked right there.

      Does that clear things up hopefully?

  16. @ ProDesignTools

    Thank you for getting back to me. Well I did get CS5 (Master Collection) from that same place and I never had any issues with it. If it does turn out that they are not a official Adobe retailer, does that mean that I have got a illegal version of the MC and that I am breaking the law by using it?

    • Well, you always have to be very careful where you try to purchase Adobe software from generally…

      But if you previously bought your CS5 from a small shop, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s illegal. It could be totally fine.

      All we’re saying here is any new purchase/upgrade for the purposes of this free upgrade promotion will not be honored if it isn’t from an official Adobe source. And they are pretty firm about that, so that rules out a lot of places.

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