Adobe Announces Creative Suite 4

Pricing

Some online discussions of CS4 have said that will be only a minor upgrade, and an overpriced one that. Some have claimed the CS4 Design Premium upgrade alone will cost $699.

Let’s look at the price complaint first. It’s a bit tricky to compare prices because before CS3, Creative Suite came in Standard and Premium varieties only, and upgrade paths weren’t always clear — for example, the upgrade from CS2 Premium to CS3 Master Collection costs $1,999, which was close to its full price. While the Adobe store lists some suite upgrades as low as $159, that’s to upgrade from CS3 to CS3.3, which has Acrobat 9 Pro. Upgrading from CS2 Premium to CS3 Design Premium actually costs $599.

For the sake of comparison, I’m going to compare CS4 upgrade prices to CS3 upgrade prices and assume that the copy of CS3 was upgraded from CS2 Premium.

Here are the price comparisons — CS3 prices on the left, CS4 prices on the right. You’ll see that some prices are indeed higher, while others are actually lower. Products with only one set of prices are unchanged.

CS3 and CS4 Design Standard
$1,199/1,399 full, $399/499 upgrade

CS3 and CS4 Design Premium
$1,799 full, $599 upgrade

CS3 and CS4 Web Standard
$999 full, $399 upgrade

CS3 and CS4 Web Premium
$1,599/1,699 full, $499/599 upgrade

CS3 and CS4 Production Premium
$1,699 full, $799/599 upgrade

CS3 and CS4 Master Collection
$2,499 full, $1,999/899 upgrade

After Effects CS3 and CS4
$999 full, $299 upgrade

Dreamweaver CS3 and CS4
$399 full, $199 upgrade

Flash Professional CS3 and CS4
$699 full, $199 upgrade

InDesign CS3 and CS4
$699 full, $199 upgrade

Illustrator CS3 and CS4
$599 full, $199 upgrade

Photoshop CS3 and CS4
$649 full, $199 upgrade

Photoshop CS3 Extended and CS4 Extended
$999 full, $349 upgrade

As you can see, the rumor that CS4 Design Premium upgrade would cost $699 is false.

Minor upgrade?

The news site AppleInsider reported that someone who saw a private CS4 demo said, “The lack of compelling new features has been the discussion among many employees and customers that are testing the software, with many relating CS4 to a maintenance release rather than a complete new version.”

Now that the announcement has been made, I can report that I first saw CS4 last July at Adobe’s headquarters in San Jose. I had two days to play with the apps and hear reports from many CS4 product managers and engineers. Since then, I have had my own copy of the CS4 Master Collection beta and have been using it in my daily work as a graphic designer, Web designer, and Flash developer.

My experience has been that there aren’t a lot of mind-blowing, game-changing new features to CS4 but there are impressive major and minor improvements. I don’t believe that CS4 is just a mere maintenance release, and you’ll learn why in my two suite-specific articles on CreativePro.com:

Keep in mind that these aren’t reviews—more like first impressions based on late betas. CreativePro.com will post reviews of the shipping software very soon after it’s available to the public.