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Home > Deals, Tips April 16th, 2010

Grace Period for Free Upgrades to CS5?

[UPDATE (March 2012) – Adobe’s grace period for free upgrades to CS6 is here!]

This seems to be the question of the week. Adobe’s policy for major product releases has been that you may qualify for a free upgrade if you buy the old version after the new version has been announced, but before it ships… The advantages are threefold: (1) you get software available for immediate download, (2) you get a more mature release if you prefer and can move up later at your leisure, and (3) you win a lower upgrade cost (e.g., from CS, CS2, CS3), because you’re buying fewer steps to go up (to CS4 rather than to CS5).

The question now is, does this apply now for CS5? Creative Suite 5 was officially announced on Monday, April 12, and CS5 is now in preorder. However, you can still buy and download CS4 on Adobe’s site. So, we are in that relevant eligibility period right now… But will it work – could you get the best of both worlds and buy or upgrade to CS4 now, and then later get a free upgrade to CS5 when you—and it—are ready?

Adobe's Post-Announce Upgrade Policy

Well the official page on the matter at Adobe is called the “post-announce upgrade policy” (for retail and educational versions) – and it has not changed since CS5 was launched. If there were any change in policy, it would already be reflected there. So Adobe’s historic policy remains in effect. Arguably this free policy and its name could be a bit clearer, but it is what it is – and probably Adobe doesn’t want to broadcast it too much.

Supporting the case is anecdotal evidence. Folks who have recently contacted Adobe have reported, “Adobe Sales con­firmed free upgrade when CS5 ships” (also here) and “you can install and run CS4 and CS5 on the same computer.”

However, the free upgrade is not automatic. It does depend on the software version and time of purchase. For example, your upgrade must be for the same platform, language, and edition as your previous version. So the short answer is that it may be possible – but you might wish to check with Adobe Customer Service (email, chat, or phone) in your particular case to verify that you qualify and request the materials to file an upgrade request, as the offer is only avail­able through Adobe directly.

In any event, rumor has it that CS5 could be shipping on April 30th and delivered by May 7th – so if you’re thinking about doing it then that could be the remaining window!

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  1. Thanks for documenting this. These are the only dates I’ve been able to find ( – might be worth adding:

    Post-announce upgrade eligibility begins. – 13 April 2010

    Post-announce upgrade eligibility ends. – 12 July 2010

    Post-announce upgrade “claims period” ends. – 27 July 2010

    • Thanks Sam, it looks like this completes the picture… Adobe will stop selling CS4 on its site when CS5 is released – but what this is telling us is that even after that point, if you can find CS4 from an authorized reseller up until July 12th then you could buy or upgrade to CS4 and still qualify for the free upgrade to CS5…

      That could be unofficial and your mileage may vary, but this policy could be very helpful for a couple months longer – though you may still wish to verify you qualify in your geography with your particular details.

      Note that some folks have had difficulty finding where CS4 is still for sale in Adobe’s online Store – you have to look near the bottom of any product page for, “Can’t wait? Order the previous version, xxx CS4 xxx, today.

  2. ALB

    I can confirm that my CS4 purchase of May 20, 2010 was just upgraded to CS5 for free. Don’t bother talking to customer service, they told me that the free-upgrade offer ended on April 30th. That is uninformed. Just go online and submit the online upgrade request: log in to the Adobe website and go to “get support”, click on the “orders & returns” tab, and choose the “post announce upgrades” issue type.

    • Hi ALB, that’s great news – well done! And thank you for posting back here to update on your experience plus sharing the tip for easier online filing – very much appreciated, and congrats on the free CS5 upgrade!

  3. Elena

    Does it matter where we buy it from? I found one website that said that it qualified for the upgrade but another that didn’t mention the upgrade at all.

    • Hi Elena, according to Adobe’s eligibility requirements, you must have purchased from either Adobe directly or from an [authorized] reseller… Products bought via auction sites (like eBay which we don’t recommend), or second-hand purchases (receiving the software through a Transfer of License) aren’t eligible for a complimentary upgrade.

      Since CS4 is can no longer be purchased directly from Adobe, and if you’re uncertain about a particular reseller’s status, your best bet may be to get in touch to confirm if the reseller would qualify.

  4. Elena

    Thanks! I found it at MacMall. It’s the student version but since I’m a student I am assuming that it will work for me! :D

  5. Robbie

    Thanks so much for posting this. It was extremely helpful. I just submitted my request this evening. I would still be searching for how to do this if I hadn’t read your post. Thanks again.

  6. NB: For those looking for Lightroom 2 grace period information for a free upgrade to Lightroom 3, a 30-day grace period has been reported on the forums…

    And using the easy method posted above by @ALB is probably your best bet for submitting the request to Adobe.

  7. Just to let anyone reading this know, I have finally managed to submit a request for this, after spending hours trying to make sense of the instructions. Even the @ALB link above just gave a 404. Eventually, I tried Internet Explorer instead of my usual Firefox and it worked!

    If anyone else is having problems with Adobe’s website, try a different browser – it might just work.

  8. Cheenu

    Thanks ALB for posting the note. Like others I was trying to figure out how to request for a free CS5 upgrade from CS4 since I bought CS4 Production Premium around the same time that CS5 was announced. I just submitted my request and am hoping to hear a positive response back from Adobe.


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