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New Adobe Upgrade Policy for CS6: What Does It Mean for You?

[UPDATE (May 2013) – CS4 and CS3 users no longer receive upgrade discounts to CS6, but to the new Adobe CC release instead.]

[UPDATE (January 2012) – Adobe has listened to customers and just reversed this change!  CS3, CS4, & CS5 are all good for upgrade to CS6 now.]

Earlier this month Adobe made a major change in the Creative Suite upgrade policy that has been in place since CS3 came out in April 2007…

Have you heard about it yet? If not, you might want to read the new upgrade policy for CS6.

Also helpful: see Adobe’s planned new business model, a membership-based Creative Cloud.

Get an extra 20% off all CS5.5 upgrades

OK, all caught up? Good. So, how will these changes affect you?

First off, for anybody currently running the latest major release, Creative Suite 5 (either 5.0, 5.1, or 5.5), you’re fine. You will not be affected by this revision, and will be eligible for the discounted pricing on upgrades when CS6 comes out.

For everyone else, if you’re still running older versions – like CS2, CS3, or CS4 – when CS6 releases, you wouldn’t qualify for that upgrade price break. And customer reaction on this point has been understandibly unfavorable.

Adobe is trying to mitigate the impact of this change by offering an extra 20% off all CS5.5 upgrades worldwide until the end of the year the extended date of March 15, 2012 (see banner).

But in trying to figure out what this means for everybody, it might be helpful to first take a step back with the Creative Suite release history and expected future schedule… 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.)

So if Adobe continues as they anticipate, anybody who is running CS5 (or CS5.5) right now will be able to get low upgrade pricing to CS6 (or CS6.5) until that cycle completes in mid-2014. That’s over two years from now.

In other words, it’s likely that part of Adobe’s reasoning for moving from “three versions back” to a “one version back” upgrade policy is that the major releases are now spaced out to once every two years – so that someone who bought CS5.0 the moment it came out in 2010 could still qualify for discounted upgrade pricing to CS6.5 nearly four years later in 2014.

But for “version skippers” and other folks still running prior releases, what are your options?

Here are what the choices look to be:

  1. Upgrade to CS5.5 now so you’re current, taking advantage of the additional 20% discount – and then revisit the question again before CS7 comes out in 2014.
  2. Wait now, and then pay full price for a new copy of CS6, CS7, or a subsequent release.
  3. Keep using the older software that you own now.
  4. Convert to the “Creative Cloud” model, with access included to more applications and services so long as you’re paying the per-month subscription fee.

So, which will it be, what will you do?

And regarding Adobe’s business focus here, with the cloud model – what do you think, will it work? Is it the right move, at the right time? Or do you feel otherwise?

Take our instant poll:

Adobe’s Changes in the Model

View results

Tell us more below – here’s your chance to express your thoughts and feedback!

See also:  Acrobat, Lightroom, and Elements – How Will They Be Affected?

[UPDATE (January 11th, 2012) – After feedback, Adobe has now deferred this policy change.]

See Also

Get the New Creative Cloud 2024 Direct Download Links

What do you think of the new policies for Creative Suite 6?  Share your thoughts below or at Adobe’s official feedback form
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83 thoughts on “New Adobe Upgrade Policy for CS6: What Does It Mean for You?”

  1. @ ProDesignTools

    Hi, thanks for taking the time to respond. I’m still unclear even after a call to Adobe (BTW she was not a native English speaker and kind but tough to understand). What she explained was :

    I was able to purchase an educational version at the university “Design Standard” and although my receipt indicates Product Code: DSGNM4-0983-4428-1077-3379 – DESIGN STANDARD CS5.5 MAC DVD UE
    when I get info, my version shows as 5.1? So which is it, do I have 5.1 and I can update it for $275 or will it be $549???

    Even at $275 this a lot of money only 6 months after purchase.


  2. Okay. thanks. I hear you. My purchase is just 6 months old. The fact that the copy I bought was 1.5 years old, as you say, means the University was selling old copies and I’m not sure how you can prevent this. I guess it’s buyer beware. I think I will upgrade since it sounds like this will be a 2-year upgrade.

    Kind regards.

    • Sure GK. It’s actually a little simpler than that. Adobe didn’t update Photoshop or Illustrator for the CS5.5 cycle, they remained at their CS5 versions (from 2010)…

      So your store wasn’t selling old software, it’s just that those two applications within your suite were not refreshed in 2011. All the others (like InDesign CS5.5) were.

      Anyway, enjoy Creative Suite 6! And you’re right, we won’t see CS7 until 2014 per Adobe’s release schedule.

  3. @ GK

    I just found this out for myself. I bought CS4 from UCLA in 2010 and just found out that Adobe will NOT support it. I’ve had it just over two years and they were quite blunt. I went to find help for installation issues since my laptop died (the only installation, so I had two left) without me being able to Deactivate it, I’ve been trying to install it on my old desktop (upgraded to process all my software, yay! so that’s not the issue) but the installation is balking at four out of six products. Photoshop installed just fine, Bridge (I could do without it, but it installed) and Illustrator installed just fine. No InDesign and no Acrobat Pro. Sucks that Adobe doesn’t support something that’s not that old. Anywho. Had to weigh in and agree with you on the Educational time lapse aspect. Grrrrr!

    • Hey there Staci, sorry you’re having difficulties… We’ve never heard of that before, and suspect you may have received incorrect information. We’ve heard many, many cases of Adobe resetting product activations to zero in their database so that customers can then move or reinstall the software to different machines. So we urge you to recontact Adobe Customer Service, give them your valid serial number, and request that action to be done – and using their live online chat is usually the fastest/easiest method.

      Good luck, and please let us know how it turns out!

  4. This is OUTRAGEOUS! It just goes along with the rest of the “Price Gouging” and corporate GREED that is happening all across America! I have been using Photoshop since CS and am already pissed off on how I have to upgrade all the time. At least it went back three versions to upgrade. Now only one version? I cannot express enough my rage and dissatisfaction with this new policy. I am surely going to be looking into other Photo editing programs, maybe even Nikon’s Capture NX2. I know it is not even close to Photoshop, so we’ll see. If I can install NIK Software plug-ins into it, it may be the answer. But then again, NIK Software is now owned by “Google”, so we’ll have to wait and see how Google’s “Greed” changes that company. Please, everyone let Adobe know what you think! Hopefully it will matter, and not be the our government who doesn’t care what we think.

    • Thanks for your thoughts Dean. It’s too bad that we’ll be losing the nice three-versions-back policy, but that was actually quite generous compared to virtually every other upgrade policy out there from other software companies… (For example, try upgrading Microsoft or Corel products from a version that old!) Although, you might perhaps consider it to be greedy if companies become less magnanimous than they have been.

      Nevertheless, Adobe’s ultimate goal here appears to be to actually lower prices and total cost of ownership through the new Creative Cloud offering. Creative Cloud is very interesting but it isn’t right for everyone, so here’s a new guide to help determine if it’s good for you:

      Adobe Creative Suite 6 vs. Creative Cloud – Which Is Best?

  5. I’ve seen what you can get on the Creative Cloud and it’s amazing, pretty much everything Adobe do for not a bad price per month if you are in the US.

    The one thing that’s stopped me is I’m in the UK and the price hike for no good reason. Without the Irish tax of 23% VAT the dollar price is about $64 pm ($79 with tax) for exactly the same product as US people get for $50. That’s an extra $168 or £104 per year because of where I happen to be and bank.

    It’s one world and the price difference makes me resent paying for it so I haven’t.

    The other concern I have is that because it’s a monthly membership, if I ever stop paying for the Creative Cloud, all my files cannot be opened ever again unless I rejoin, the software would cease to function.

    • Greetings, nice to hear from you again. And glad you are comparing apples-to-apples because most people forget that in the U.S. prices are quoted without tax, whereas overseas like in Europe the tax is often included in the quoted price. But American customers are definitely paying state and local taxes (up to 10%) on top of the $50/month or $75/month subscriptions.

      As you point out, even after correcting for that, the pricing is still higher internationally… Why is that? Well, Adobe has given explanations of this frequently in the past, and we suspect it’s the same answer now with Creative Cloud.

      Regarding a term-based membership – you are absolutely right, and that is one of the tradeoffs of the model. If you stop your membership, your Adobe programs and files will no longer start or open. Think of it like renting your home vs. buying – if you stop paying the monthly rent, you would no longer be able to access the property. Homeowners on the other hand have their house forever, but pay a larger amount up front.

      On the other hand, renters have someone else taking care of the mainte­nance and keeping up to date. Homeowners have more control and responsibility for what upgrades they do, and are more on their own. So, it really depends on which model you prefer, the products you own or would like to use, and what your buying habits and plans are likely to be.

      Thanks for your comment!

  6. I’m not convinced by Adobe’s arguments. Since 1989 I have used and purchased Adobe software and have never needed support or the help of all those Adobe representatives wondering around the EU.

    Also the arguments about currencies and costs of doing business outside of the US, don’t forget that without us they would have no extra income at all, so does that mean the US is being subsidised by everyone else?

    I would dare say that if the price where made universal around the world and halved at the same time, Adobe would get more than twice the users of CC.

    With 7 billion people in the world and if just 1 percent joined the CC and paid $10 per month, then I believe that would be $8.4 billion a year income. Is that not enough to keep Adobe going and providing an all round great service that everyone loves and doesn’t resent paying through the nose for?

    In fact, in these days of cheap apps being bought by millions of people, why not aim to supply most of the people on earth with access to a creativity cloud at a really cheap price and make Adobe something almost as essential as utility gas, electric, internet bills.

    • Yes, in fact this looks to us to be the direction Adobe is going – and Creative Cloud is the vehicle the company will use to get there… The pricing is set now to serve as a viable transition from the perpetual model to the subscription model, but we expect the rates to trend downwards as time goes on.

      In other words, when CS6.5 and CS7 come out in future years and as the Cloud increases in membership, we look for the monthly pricing to gradually decline. No big jumps, and not based on anything Adobe has shared with us, but that’s the view from where we sit. The strategy would be for more and more people to be able to afford it, while increasing product adoption and decreasing software piracy.

      They’ve already reduced the price of Creative Cloud to US$30/month for current CS customers and to $20/month for students & teachers, so it seems like the way things are going. Maybe for new customers, CS6.5 would be $45/month and CS7 would be $40/month for annual plans, as a hypothetical example. Month-to-month plans might be $70 and $65, respectively.

      But in the meantime, if permanent licensing is what you prefer to have and maintain, we advise readers to consider upgrading now or in the near future to make sure you’ve got that secured in your pocket and increase your options regardless of what Adobe does going forward.

  7. I almost feel like Adobe listened to me since my comment back in December 2011, before the Cloud subscription model was announced (or before I knew about it). I asked for a fairer system that could see users trying out the software for not much outlay, useful for those learning the programs beyond 30 days which often runs out too quickly before I’ve had a proper chance to learn what’s what. At the prices being quoted to upgrade the Master Suite to CS5.5, the cost was just too high to keep up with, at least now with CC we can get all the latest versions as and when they come out, but that’s still about £475 per year (plus 23% tax) at standard UK prices ($765+177). Standard US price = $600 plus tax.

    In that comment last year I suggested that we can’t possibly all use all the programs all of the time and to pay large sums for just the occasional use seemed difficult to justify. I speculated that maybe a subscription model could be devised that charged according to usage, so if you didn’t use a program for a length of time there would be no charge, and for those that use it all the time their cost would increase in small amounts based on a tiered structure., I quote myself:

    “…we don’t all work in commercial agencies earning a ton of money, and if it should ever happen that I start earning loads and using the programs a lot more, then fair enough, charge me more based on a tiered discount structure that gets slightly cheaper per hour the more a particular program is used, and I’m talking pennies per hour or for so many processor cycles, not huge sums per day, month or year. ….Adobe, be fair, make it fun, let amateurs and starters get involved, let us all have a go at everything beyond the 30 day trials that we don’t have time to explore because we actually have lives to lead as well. A fairer structure would basically mean: ‘Don’t use it and you don’t get charged’, you would have the world installing all the software and having fun, also the overall cost to users could come down and your revenues, user-base and popularity go up. …”
    (end of my quote)

    Maybe we’re getting there as the technology evolves to measure and charge on some sort of micro-payment system? To have nearly the whole lot of Adobe software would be fun to play and learn with, and for the few main programs I would use I can almost justify the price. It’s just that price difference between the US and everywhere else that feels wrong and in effect I’d be paying an Adobe Tax on top of an already high VAT tax. UK VAT is 20% but Adobe EU is based in Ireland where the VAT is 23% and that’s what they charge on the subscription model.

  8. It’s only going to get worse…

    CS2 included Acrobat 7
    CS2.3 included Acrobat 8 <– free update to Acrobat via ELA
    CS3 included Acrobat 8
    CS3.3 included Acrobat 9 <– free update to Acrobat via ELA
    CS4 included Acrobat 9
    CS5 included Acrobat 9
    CS5.5 included Acrobat X <– free update to Acrobat via ELA
    CS6 includes Acrobat X
    CS6.x may or may not be released, if it is, it will WILL NOT INCLUDE FREE UPDATE to Acrobat XI.
    CS7 will include Acrobat XI (ETA sometime in 2013)

  9. @ProDesignTools

    Adobe have alerted us that our ELA customer who shelled out $2M on ELA will not be eligible for free Acrobat XI upgrade…not now, and not if/when CS6.x incremental update is released.

    1. Wait for CS7 to come out, it will include Acrobat XI (yea, tell that to our multimedia production folks).

    2. Buy a new full copy of Acrobat XI (waste of $$$ especially if you spent $2M on ELA).

    3. Buy into Adobe Creative Cloud (which breaks enterprise procurement processes to itty-bitty pieces).

    Adobe is not publicly announcing this, of course, they will end up being reactive once they start losing customers.

    Whoever is heading Adobe is playing enterprise customers for suckers.

    Don Montalvo, TX

    • Well we’ll see what happens next year, but there would be a major uproar not just from enterprise customers but from everyone if for some reason Adobe didn’t include the latest/current version of the Acrobat product in the next Creative Suite release… It just doesn’t make sense and would be inconsistent from all prior experience.

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