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When Will Adobe Creative Suite 6 be Out, including Photoshop CS6?

[UPDATE (May 7th) – Here it is, Creative Suite 6 has been released!]

Late last week we received these two inquiries via our Contact page:

“Could you please provide a proposed release date for CS6 Design Premium software? I can’t see anywhere on your site where this is mentioned except for the U-turn regarding upgrade policy from earlier versions.”

“I have a budget meeting tomorrow and need to know the approximate release date and projected cost of the CS5 to CS6 Master Collection Suite upgrade.”

So, this is something people really want to know now.  And we have written about it before, giving clues in posts here as far back as March and July of last year…

But it’s clearly time for an update.

When Will Adobe CS6 Be Available?

Even today, we wish we could give you exact dates and numbers for those questions, but Adobe hasn’t publicly disclosed that information – and likely won’t until CS6 is launched… However, we can make a best estimate of the possible timing for the Creative Suite 6 release window.

On Adobe’s site now there is a document referencing the new CS Release Schedule.  Here are a few of the key elements contained within this Message Summary:

New CS Release Schedule

To enable customers to successfully capitalize on these industry trends, Adobe is innovating quickly and we are introducing a new release schedule for Creative Suite:

  • In order to keep customers ahead of these industry trends, we will issue midcycle releases in between our traditional milestone releases.
  • We are extending the time between milestone releases to two years.
  • There will be one midcycle release during each cycle. So, once every 12 months there will definitely be a substantial release for CS.
  • Since features in the midcycle release are primarily focused on keeping users ahead of the industry trends at that time, not all point products will be revised in a given midcycle release.
  • This new Release Schedule debuts … with CS5.5 as the first of these midcycle releases.

So reading between the lines here – if milestone (new major number) releases will be every two years, and if every 12 months there will be a new version of Creative Suite coming out, then taking the CS5.5 launch date of May 3, 2011 and adding twelve months would give an expected CS6 shipping date in the early May 2012 timeframe.

Of course, software development schedules are never exact, and your mileage may vary – but this is about the best estimate right now from public information.

[UPDATE – More precision on the Creative Suite 6 release date…]

How about CS6 pricing? This won’t be published in advance, but when moving from CS4 to CS5 Adobe kept prices pretty much the same – so the most reasonable budgeting strategy is to use the same cost figures for Creative Suite 5 for a similar product, or for a similar upgrade.

[UPDATE (March 26th)CS6 Grace Period Savings: Buy CS5.5 Now + Get CS6 Free!]

What else do we know about CS6?

First and foremost, Creative Suite 6 will continue to be available in all the forms you’re used to today with CS5 – download or boxed, full or upgrade, individual or suite, perpetual (perma­nent) or subscription. And based on the Message Summary document, all major products are likely to receive substantial revisions and new features.

What about upgrade paths? Well the big news here is Adobe recently postponed big changes to the upgrade policy, so current CS3, CS4, and CS5 customers will be able to upgrade to their choice of CS6 products.  CS2 customers can still upgrade to CS5.5 now, but will be too far back to receive discounted upgrade pricing to CS6. However, there may be a brief grace period where anybody (including CS2 users) could upgrade to CS5/CS5.5 and then receive a free further upgrade to CS6, if Adobe continues what they’ve done in the past after Creative Suite announcements. Stay tuned here as we’ll have quick news of that program if it’s offered.

Adobe will also be offering a Creative Cloud alternative (where access to the software is rented monthly by paid membership) but — and there’s a lot of misunderstanding here — the cloud will be completely optional and not required by any customer (either existing or new) to buy or use it… In other words, it is an addition – not a replacement.

We also now know that Adobe’s two new products Edge and Muse will not be part of CS6, and will be available via separate subscription or cloud only. At the same time, we know that Adobe Acrobat, Lightroom, and Photoshop/Premiere Elements will not be affected by any cloud or upgrade changes.

[ Learn more about the features and timing of Creative Suite 6. ]

Adobe Photoshop CS6 – a Sneak Peek

Did you catch the little “sneak peek” video that Adobe slipped out on YouTube last week, presumably a first look at what’s to come in Photoshop CS6?

[UPDATE (March 2012)More sneak peeks of Photoshop CS6 have just been released, including new Content-Aware Move & Extend Tools… plus 3D and video editing.]

There were some interesting details revealed – confirming longtime rumors, Photoshop is getting a darker and redesigned user interface that allows for a more immersive experience and consistency between other Adobe applications, plus rich cursor support that gives a floating heads-up of significant brush metrics right near the action. And as is customary, Photoshop CS6 will continue to use the same new Adobe Camera Raw 7 processing engine that’s also available now in the new release of Lightroom 4.  ACR 7 has been rewritten and can do some pretty amazing things very quickly, as shown in the video.

Check out what it does to this iPhone camera shot of Paris – how easily it brings up the foreground without blowing out the background, recovering highlights and boosting clarity for a more compelling image using just a few sliders…

Just roll over with your mouse (or tap) for the before and after results:

Photoshop CS6 / ACR 7 Before & After Images

So the video is definitely worth two minutes of your full-screen time if you haven’t seen it yet – and we’re likely to get more previews in the coming months because it’s titled “#1” in a new YouTube playlist Adobe created called “Sneak Peeks”:

See the rest of the new Photoshop CS6 sneak peeks here or download the free Photoshop CS6 beta release.

What other features coming in CS6?

Well, of course we also have the possibility of the stunning Photoshop Image Deblurring feature that Adobe demoed at MAX last fall – but from what PS Senior Product Manager Bryan O’Neil Hughes said earlier, it sounds like a long shot for deblurring to make the CS6 release.

It seems more likely we could see some of the other MAX feature sneak peeks finding their way into CS6 products, including Liquid Layout for InDesign, plus 3D Video Meshes, Auto-Align New Dialogue Track, and Auto-Sync Crowd-Sourced Video for Premiere Pro & After Effects, as well as all the rest of the sneak peek demos.

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”
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27 thoughts on “When Will Adobe Creative Suite 6 be Out, including Photoshop CS6?”

  1. “So, this is something people really want to know now. And we have definitely written about it before, giving clues in posts here as early as March 2011 and July 2011…”

    I think you may mean 2012.

    • Hi Amorphous, actually those dates are right – they were for the first two stories we did on the subject of when CS6 is coming out… And now here in this article we’re updating the picture with all the latest information we have.

      But the text wasn’t entirely clear on that point, so we’ve just clarified it. Thanks for your comment!

  2. Curious to know if Adobe plans on Photoshop CS6 only being compatible with Windows Vista/7 or later, as they have done with Lightroom 4?

    • That’s a great question George – but Adobe hasn’t said one way or the other yet, the CS6 System Requirements aren’t available or published yet…

      But there are definitely are other customers like you wondering the same thing – whether Photoshop CS6 will run on Windows XP – and when an Adobe Lightroom team member was asked this exact question on a public forum, her response was, “I can’t speak for Photoshop … this was a Lightroom-specific decision.”

  3. Is this a marketing strategy for Adobe, or should I really wait. For a moderate professional, does a half step really make a difference? I would be cool if the CS5 did the same thing as 5.5? Thanks.

    • Excellent question Chuck. In our experience, Adobe has offered grace periods going back 3-4 weeks from the date of a new product launch… That’s what happened with CS5.5, where buyers of CS5.0 could get a free upgrade within that window. Similar story with the grace period for buyers of CS4 when CS5 was announced.

      Adobe does always have what’s called a “Post-Announce Upgrade Policy” that’s generally in place, which gives the procedure for customers to follow but doesn’t specify for which products or for how long.

      So we hope something similar happens with a free upgrade to CS6 for buyers of CS5 or CS5.5 within a similar timeframe – but there won’t be any news on that until CS6 actually comes out… We’ll have that for you here if/when that does happen.

      But it may not even matter. Why? Because of the company’s longstanding Return & Exchange Policy, whereby buyers going forward can effectively create their own grace period for a free upgrade, should a newer version (CS6) be released within 30 days of purchase (of CS5). And this will work regardless of what happens!

      Hope this gives you a good and helpful answer.

  4. It’s interesting and I am waiting for the new release soon probably in May. However I was wondering if the CS5.5 student edition is purchased now, does it qualify for free upgrade in May when CS6 releases? If not how much will it cost to upgrade?

    I assume the original price for CS6 will be the same as CS5.5 correct?

    • Hey there Moe, we don’t know the pricing for Creative Suite 6 as Adobe has not announced it yet, and they probably won’t until the launch. However, it hasn’t changed much over recent years so your best estimates would be to take the prices now for full copies of CS5/CS5.5 – or if you’re upgrading, then use the cost of a similar move now.

      Similar answer for the CS6 Student Editions – nobody can tell you yet what Adobe’s offerings will be in that regard… There is simply no information at this time on either availability or prices. (Please note there are some important differences currently between the student editions vs. regular.)

      As for what will be in CS6, which new features – that’s unknown as well, although Adobe has released some ‘sneak peek’ videos, both in the past month as well as at the MAX show last year.

      Finally, on getting a free upgrade to CS6 if you buy CS5 now – in the past Adobe has offered such grace periods where that was possible, and we hope they will again. Again, we won’t know for sure until CS6 arrives.

      But even if they don’t officially offer one, here’s a handy tip: you can just create your own instead… You automatically get a window for a free upgrade with Adobe’s everyday Return & Exchange Policy – so if a new version comes out within 30 days of your purchase, you can just return what you got for a refund and then buy the new release instead.

      Sorry we can’t provide firmer answers, but hope still helps a little!

  5. Thank you for choosing Adobe. A representative will be with you shortly. Your estimated wait time is 0 minute(s) and 1 second(s) or longer as there are 1 customer(s) in line ahead of you.

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    Sarath: I am sorry, Kari. We don’t have any announced dates for the release of CS6.

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  6. So they are going to release yearly updates to the Creative Suite lines as in 5.5, 6, 6.5, 7, 7.5, etc. Are they going to start making upgrades more affordable, and will they continue the upgrade eligibility to 3 versions back? Does the “3 versions back” include or exclude the x.5 versions? There have been too many changes and flipping and I am confused.

    If I buy cs5.5 on the 50% off special, will I have to upgrade at version 7 or 8.5 to keep my upgrade eligibility? I am wondering how they are going to handle the upgrade pricing in the future. I am agonizing between getting just Photoshop at $300 (private special offer as an upgrade from another program) or the Web Premium Suite at $900. I am leery of future upgrade prices for an entire suite, and thinking of buying individual products as I need them, controlling and spacing out my own upgrades as I see fit, as I don’t need everything in the suite, however it will cost me less up front to get the suite.

    I don’t have much time to decide. Help?! ;)

    • Hello Gina, thanks for your questions. We can’t say for sure what Adobe’s future upgrade policies will be. They have announced that for 2012, it will remain “3 versions back” for Creative Suite – and those are major versions, so all CS3, CS4, and CS5.x versions will be eligible to upgrade to CS6.

      Starting in 2013, this will likely switch to a 1-version back policy. Again, we’re talking major versions – so CS5 owners can upgrade to CS6 at a reduced price, CS6 owners to CS7 in the future, etc.

      But to be able to buy CS5.5 right now for half the regular price is a steal though – regardless of what happens… Even if you want CS6, you could pay a lower total cost by getting CS5.5 now for 50% off, and then later doing the discounted upgrade to CS6. The total price will almost certainly come out less.

      And you’d have two years before you’d have to think about upgrading again from CS6, just before CS7 comes out (see the estimated release schedule).

      Hope this helps!

  7. I have CS5.5 that will not install on Mac OS 10.7.3 with the error: “will not install on case sensitive drives.”

    Will this be fixed in CS6, and how will the upgrade work for a computer that does not have CS installed on it previously?


  8. I would think that the release has to be on or around May 6, right? The CS6 free upgrade deal is for anyone who purchases CS5.5 before May 6, implying that it will be out then. It even says in their terms:

    “Ten days after the ship of Adobe Creative Suite 6 and no later than May 31, 2012, at 11:59pm (PDT), customers will receive an email with instructions and a unique promotional code to receive the one-time upgrade to the equivalent CS6 product.”

    So it’s May for sure. Missed the 50%-off deal, but the free upgrade to CS6 makes up for it, I guess.

  9. Yes, you are right. Didn’t see that article. That’s what happens when you get here through a Google search and not the home page! But, hey, at least now I found this great blog! I’m definitely going to follow it from now on. Thanks!

    Yes, I took advantage of the deal already. Had ‘only’ Photoshop CS5, but was still able to get a discounted upgrade price from that to a full CS5.5 suite + 10% off + free CS6 upgrade. Definitely great!


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