Adobe Creative Suites: Six Versions of CS3

At first glance, Adobe's pricing structure for Creative Suite 3 is insane. They are no longer offering two versions -- oh no -- they now have six different configurations to chose from. Creative Suite 3 comes in Design Premium and Standard, Web Premium and Standard, Production Premium, and the one box to rule them all, Master Collection.

Why would they do this? Well, for one, they bought Macromedia and are rolling out CS3 versions of (most) all of their acquired goodies. Why didn't Director get the CS3 treatment? Who knows, but Flash, Dreamweaver, Contribute and Fireworks did.

Photoshop now has two versions, "regular" and Extended. Along with all the other feature enhancements to Photoshop CS3, they added 3-D and motion support to Photoshop Extended, as well as "image analysis with measurement tools." I never like to see a product fractured like that, which is why I am glad there is only one Flash (once again). Flash CS3 Professional is it, no more only allowing advanced ActionScript in the Professional version only. Thank you for that Adobe.

What is annoying about this six-pronged Creative Suite 3 system is what is missing from package to package. Design Premium comes with Dreamweaver and Flash, but not Fireworks. Web Premium comes with Photoshop and Illustrator, but not InDesign. To buy one package and cherry pick from the other applications can get pretty costly.

Of course they do this to maximize their profits. And once you look at what is in Master Collection, you see it is priced to move (and just happens to be the most expensive bundle). The Master Collection has 12 core Adobe applications

  • InDesign CS3
  • Photoshop CS3 Extended
  • Illustrator CS3
  • Acrobat 8 Professional
  • Flash CS3 Professional
  • Dreamweaver CS3 Professional
  • Fireworks CS3
  • Contribute CS3
  • After Effects CS3 Professional
  • Adobe Premiere Pro CS3
  • Soundbooth CS3
  • Encore CS3

That is a lot of software for $2,499 - around $208 each if you divide that up. If you own Adobe Creative Suite and Macromedia Studio (as I do), you can get one heck of a nice discount on Adobe Master Collection. I will only have to spend $1,400 for all the latest and greatest goodies from Adobe. Is it worth it? That depends on how much of your paycheck is made with this software.

As I said earlier, if I upgraded to the Design Premium, then added the other Adobe applications I want, I might as well just upgrade to the Master Collection and be done with it. Which is what I am going to do. It is worth it for my business.

Some of the new software requires an Intel Mac. Soundbooth CS3 and Encore CS3 will not run on a PPC Mac, Adobe OnLocation CS3 requires Windows, to which Adobe suggests Intel Mac users use Boot Camp, or a stand-alone PC.

At least the other applications are Universal Binary, so they will work at full speed on both PPC and Intel-based Macs. I am most excited about (big surprise here) Dreamweaver CS3 and all its Ajax tools, among other upgrades.

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