Adobe bundles up in Creative Suite

Adobe Systems Inc. introduced two “Creative Suite” software bundles with new versions of several of its professional graphics applications on Monday, replacing the current Web, Design and Publishing software collections.

Creative Suite comes in standard and premium editions. Standard Edition includes Photoshop CS, Illustrator CS and InDesign CS. Premium Edition adds GoLive CS and Acrobat 6.0 Professional. Both bundles also include a new file version management feature called Version Cue for users working in teams.

Standard Edition is meant for users who design mostly for print but don’t want Acrobat. Premium Edition, because it includes the GoLive Web design tool, is for users who also design for the Web, Adobe said.

This is the first time Adobe has released new full versions of Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and GoLive at the same time, the company said. The “CS” versions have been designed to work together and in the future Adobe plans to synchronize new releases of the applications in the suite, which also has a single installer and single serial number.

“We are approaching this from a platform standpoint. We want to be the digital dashboard for designers,” said Caleb Belohlavek, product manager at Adobe in San Jose. “We have been doing a lot of things to integrate our products over the years, but when teams are on different development cycles it is difficult to align shared technologies.”

One benefit of tighter integration between the different applications and synchronized releases is file format support across the products, Belohlavek said. In the past, a new release of Photoshop, for example, could require minor updates to other Adobe applications to support file format changes.

Adobe will continue to sell the standalone versions of its applications, but is discontinuing its Web, Design and Publishing collections that have been for sale for about five years. The Adobe Video Collection, a bundle of products including Premiere and After Effects for those who work with digital video, will stay, Adobe said.

The standalone products do not include Version Cue, but do support the collaboration feature, Adobe said. A graphics design shop could buy one whole suite and several standalone products and still take advantage of Version Cue, the vendor said.

With the new version release, Adobe is also expanding its efforts to combat software piracy. After a trial with product activation in Australia, the company is now bringing the antipiracy technology to Photoshop CS for Windows. Users have to activate the product online or over the phone within 30 days after the first launch, Adobe said.

Adobe’s new applications are available for Microsoft Corp.’s Windows XP and Windows 2000 with Service Pack 3 as well as Apple Computer Inc.’s Mac OS X, the company said. For Mac, Adobe recommends Mac OS X version 10.2.6.

Full version pricing for Creative Suite Standard Edition is US$999, while Premium Edition is priced at US$1,229. Upgrade versions of the products are priced at US$549 and US$749, respectively. Upgrade pricing is available to current owners of Photoshop or the Web, Design, Publishing, Digital Video or Video Professional collection, Adobe said.

The English, French and German version of the suites and the applications are scheduled to be available in the fourth quarter. Other language versions, specifically Japanese, Italian, Swedish, Spanish, Dutch and Danish, should ship in the first quarter next year, Adobe said.