Design insights & tutorials.

Blank Canvas: How Often Do You Upgrade?

Design software ain’t cheap. And for us designers and illustrators using the professional-level software to create such as Adobe Creative Suite, we find a typical 18-month cycle for new releases of Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and the rest.

GoMedia wants to know: how do you handle your upgrades? Do you get the latest and greatest when it comes out, or do you wait until you have to upgrade?

If you’re on the cutting edge, what compels you? If you’re the waiting type, how long do you usually hold off between releases?

Personally, I am a “latest and greatest” upgrader. Typically there are enough compelling features for me to justify the price. In the past I have skipped some of the versions of Creative Suite, but lately I have been making sure to keep current.

As a self-employed illustrator, it’s a bit easier for me in some sense since I only need to purchase one upgrade license. A studio needs to consider all the machines they own. Students have different upgrade options as well – you get your initial student license, but upgrades need to be full licenses.

I’m a big fan of graphics software so it’s a bit easier for me to justify the upgrades. Since I work almost 100% digitally nowadays, it’s kind of a no-brainer for me as long as the new features are something that I think will enhance my productivity.

Sounds off in the comments below: how and when do you upgrade, and why?

About the Author, George Coghill

George Coghill isa freelance humorous illustrator/cartoonist specializing in mascot cartoon character design & cartoon logos. His cartooning & illustration work can be seen at CoghillCartooning.com and at his cartooning and illustration blog. Be sure to follow me on Twitter here!
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Discussion

We want to hear what you have to say. Do you agree? Do you have a better way to approach the topic? Let the community know by joining the discussion.

  • http://twitter.com/badrobotbrain Matt Bryant

    With design software I'm an every-other version type of guy. I don't typically make an effort to upgrade other stuff that I don't use as often, like M$ Office. I've gotten over my have-to-have-it phase a long time ago, the reality is if you can still do your job efficiently with what you currently have, then it's better to invest your money in something that doesn't depreciate in value so quickly.

  • Ashley

    As much as I love the newest design software, I “want” it more than i “need” it. I was going to get CS4 when it came out, but i thought hey, CS3 does the job…..I figure CS5 will be out before I know it anyway! Like Matt was saying, I tend to go with the every-other version method.

  • Steve West

    I'm with George, I love the latest and greatest. Since I bought CS1 while I was teaching the upgrades are relatively affordable compared to the cost of the full version. Working a job now that just upgraded to CS3 in October from CS2 has only made me miss some of the bells and whistles in CS4 even more.

  • beandip

    When it comes to Adobe CS I try to weigh as many of the options as possible before upgrading. If the newest software has options that I can live without I will hold off. I am still using PS CS2 on my PC at work and CS4 on my Mac at home. I would love to have CS4 (and a Mac, for that matter) at work. I guess that's up to me convincing my employer to fork out the dough.

  • beandip

    When it comes to Adobe CS I try to weigh as many of the options as possible before upgrading. If the newest software has options that I can live without I will hold off. I am still using PS CS2 on my PC at work and CS4 on my Mac at home. I would love to have CS4 (and a Mac, for that matter) at work. I guess that's up to me convincing my employer to fork out the dough.

  • lupzdut

    I usually do an evaluation of what the new upgrade will bring. Like George pointed out, if a certain feature(s) will greatly improve my productivity I will usually upgrade. That is the deal-breaker for me. Usually when I still get the urge to buy the new upgrade, just because of a feature that isn't all that useful to me but is just more gimmicky, I think about those designers in the good old days who had no software at all. After I do that I am really happy for what I have, latest version or not.

  • http://www.tonycgil.com/ Tony Gil

    I simply upgrade if I can afford it. I think it's important to stay up to date with certain upgrades in order to spark new innovative ideas. The little times I haven't upgraded I'll substitute a full upgrade for the trial and test out the new features. I keep those features in my back pocket and if somethings sparks my mind in the future I'll pull it out and push for an upgrade.

  • Stan

    I think it depends on what you do and how busy you are. At my prepress job we are raging busy and need to have the latest version to speed up workflow and handle the variety of files that come in. At home I don't freelance and just do artistic stuff so I don't need the latest software (unless it has a filter that creates badass artwork FOR me to sell for thousands of dollars). Another thought is that students need whatever version their school is teaching with, but a lot of schools are about a year behind the release of a new Creative Suite.

  • Tommi Luhtanen

    For me, it all comes down to money and ease of use. My main gun is CS4 Master Collection and PS, AI, ID, FL, FW, DW, AE and Acrobat are the apps I use the most.

    I've found that the most cost-effective way is to have an upgrade plan. That way I get all the new versions right as they become available. And even if I don't use some versions of some apps, I still have them and am able to open files clients and partners send me.

    I also ditched buying boxes and switched to a single TLP license. Now I don't have deactivate & activate any more and I can install and use either Windows or Mac versions. Some clients seem still to have peeves about Macs, so I often present stuff using Vista 64 in Boot Camp.

    The trick about Adobes upgrade paln is to time it right (and hope that Adobe doesn't change its 18-20 month cycle). For me CS3 and CS4 Master Collection have cost me around 1.8 euros per working day and the middle updates with Acrobat 9 et. al. didn't cost anything extra.

  • http://twitter.com/bearpig Robbie Andrews

    I tend to update Adobe CS (as it's the basis for most of my work) as soon as I'm sure that there are no bugs in the new release. When it comes to other software, as long as it does the job, i tend not to upgrade unless there's a certain feature I desperately need.

    Hardware is upgraded about every 3/4 years but I would hope to make this more like 2 years if money wasn't an issue. Mainly due to the huge advances in HDD & RAM size/speed which would of course allow me to work faster (for rendering especially).

  • http://twitter.com/alicaurusrex Alice Ralph

    Personally I am happy with CS3 for now, but if I could afford it then I would upgrade to CS4. I would never upgrade immediately, though, unless there was a new feature that was essential for me. I think you should always leave it at least a few months from launch for them to iron out any hidden bugs or problems.

  • http://www.studioinnersanctum.com/ Sanctum1972

    This thread has been very timely because I own a PowerPC G4 since 2002 using Adobe CS1, among other applications such as Painter, Manga Studio, and so on. But lately, my system's been getting a bit slow with 1 GB of RAM and to this day, it seems to be the right time for me to jump to the Intel Mac for an upgrade. I usually base my upgrade needs on technological changes and the standards that may affect me as a professional creative. It's not just a want but a necessity in order to function in a productive manner.
    So truly, when a system becomes really long in the tooth, then an upgrade is needed especially for a freelance creative like me has a small budget to maintain.

  • CanonMinolta

    I can no longer afford to be a “latest and greatest” kind of person anymore – I pretty much get every other release.

  • wurkshop

    i upgrade my CS package ASAP as long as i can “find” it… when i was purchasing every bit of software i use it was every other generation. as for hardware, it's about every 2/3 years but i upgrade essentials like HD's and RAM to the max when ever they become affordable. i usually buy systems with a little more than i have now and upgrade internals over time.

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  • http://www.HQubed.com MechMykl

    I upgraded from CS3 to CS4 because of the streamlined interface, and it's saved me a lot of time. I don't get excited as much at the new features since they're not workflow-related, but updates like CS5's optimization for 64bit Snow Leopard are a must have.

  • http://www.gregoryhughdavidson.com/ Greg

    I usually upgrade every other version… but with the Creative Suite… The only thing I really want to upgrade is Photoshop. I'm happy with Fireworks CS3… could get by with CS2… CS4 for Fireworks is dog slow and what I do in Illustrator, Flash and Dreamweaver is so basic that the updates do not mean much too me. I still upgrade the whole suite just for the fact its only $200 bucks more.

    With Lightroom I have upgraded from 1 to 2 and plan to upgrade to 3 when its released. It's worth every penny!

  • john5cole

    I upgrade when time/money permits…or if there is a new feature I am looking for….

  • richardballcreare

    Few programs are written, released, and left alone especially Adobe and Mac systems. We’re increasingly living in a world where software is a relationship, not an artifact. An application like Photoshop gets old and parallel just like most girlfriends, shameful I know, but everyone secretly or not wants an up grade.

  • Simon H.

    Not that much since I don't have the $$

  • http://www.nextdayflyers.com/ nextdayflyers.com

    I upgrade all the time, it seems like there are always a couple new items that I can't live without.

  • Michele Alvarez Limon

    hi , i'm with the ” latest the greatest ” but in cs4, didn't quite so .. i'm waiting for the cs5 , the optimization for 64 bits to snow leopard would be great !! .. i save the money in cs4 for a new mac .. considerating later the CS5 !! ..

  • Eric

    As a recent Graduate of multimedia productions i tend to use every free application i can get my hands on, however i did invest in a cs3 suite and i have no intentions of upgrading in the next 2 years. I cs3 is knid of like my security blanket =D

  • http://pateknautilus.com/ Patek Nautilus

    well, i never upgrade that blank canvas,,

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  • stevenmmerenda

    It may just be that I'm in college, but I always have multiple resources to find programs for free. I was running CS4 6 weeks before it was released. I know I'm probably an evil person for doing this, but hey, college is expensive enough.

  • http://fastforwardacademy.com/index-page-irs-enrolled-agent-exam-course.htm enrolled agent study guide

    I tend to upgrade a) when I can afford it, and b) if the upgrades seem compelling enough to justify the price. If both of those criteria aren't met, I don't do it. Half the time, the upgrades are something minor that I am perfectly happy living without anyway. I think, as a general rule, every other version is a good rule of thumb for me.

  • tylerwhitworth

    I used CS1 up until a 2 years ago. I probably won't update to cs4 or even cs5 for a while. I find that the older versions can do pretty much the same things as the newer ones. even some of the cool tricks, you just have to go about it in a differen't way. The hardest part about it is compatibility with other designers.

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    Not that much since I don't have the.

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