Adobe CS3 Master Collection: The Fine Print

Adobe Master Collection

A few months back Adobe announced the new CS3 version of almost all their apps, and all new application bundles. One of the new bundles was The Master Collection, which contains almost all of Adobe’s top apps in one box. It is a substantial savings over buying individual apps separately, or other bundles.

The Master Collection isn’t available yet, because it’s still waiting on a couple of apps to be updated. But, Adobe is allowing people to upgrade their applications now to the new Design or Web bundles, and then when the Master Collection becomes available, you can buy it by just paying the difference between what you pay now, and what the upgrade would have cost.

from Adobe: “You can purchase an edition* of Adobe Creative Suite® 3 today and then decide to move to the Adobe Creative Suite 3 Master Collection for the difference in price. For example, if you own a previous version of Adobe Creative Suite or Macromedia Studio, you can buy an upgrade to Creative Suite 3 Design Premium today for US$599†. If you later need the full power of Master Collection, you can upgrade to it for US$1,400, rather than US$1,999 (the price you would pay for moving from a previous version directly to Master Collection).”

Just yesterday I went ahead and ordered my CS3 Design Premium bundle. I’ve been considering upgrading to the Master Collection when it becomes available. It has a certain appeal to me, because I currently own the CS1 Pro bundle, Macromedia Studio MX 2004, and After Effects 7 Pro. If I upgrade all my apps, I’ll be spending only slightly less than the cost of the Master Collection upgrade. If I buy the Master Collection upgrade I’ll get Adobe Premiere Pro CS3, Soundbooth CS3, and Encore CS3 for about $200 bucks. Sounds like a great deal, right? I thought so until I saw this…

from Adobe: “To be eligible for this upgrade to Master Collection (and contrary to Section 5 of the End-User License Agreement for Master Collection), you must surrender your rights to, and license for, your original edition of Adobe Creative Suite 3 and uninstall that software.”

I wasn’t sure exactly what this meant, but it didn’t sound good, so I called Adobe for clarification. I wasn’t thrilled with what they told me.

When you buy Adobe’s Design, Web, or Production bundles, you own a license to each application in the bundle (even though you bought them as a group). Apparently, this isn’t true for the Master Collection. The trade-off for the big price break they give you, is that you don’t own the individual apps, you own a single license for the bundle. That’s why they require you to uninstall all your previous apps, and reinstall from the Master Collection discs. They don’t require you to send your original discs back, but they do de-autherize your serial numbers.

What does this mean, and why should you care? Well, it means that when you buy the Master Collection, Adobe is putting you on a very specific upgrade path from that point on. The Adobe Rep I spoke to said that he couldn’t tell me what that path would be, because these products are so new. But he did give me an example… Let’s say in a year Adobe announced Photoshop CS4. Anyone who owns Photoshop, or one of the other bundles, can just go to the store and buy the upgrade. Owners of the Master Collection may or may not be able to buy the upgrade, because they technically do NOT own a photoshop license. If they can buy an upgrade, it may or may not be the same price. The Adobe rep was understandably vague about the whole thing.

We won’t really know what the upgrade path for Master Collection owners will be until much later, but this is definitely something to keep in mind if you were planning on buying it. We may find that in the long run, the Master Collection is not such a good deal after-all.

4 thoughts on “Adobe CS3 Master Collection: The Fine Print”

  1. Wow – I don’t know why I’m surprised, but I guess I’m always amazed at the way Adobe does business. We’ve had some issues with them and an “upgrade option” here at work, and at home I’ve dealt with them off and on about my options to upgrade and my questions about one license for mac and PC.

    I always get a different story depending on who I talk to. Lame.

  2. I got to ______ State University, and we have a deal with Adobe that gives us special licensing at our computer store, and we can buy Master Collection for $549. I think thats what I will do. Under the circumstances, it won’t matter what path I am on, because, it’s a great deal.

  3. yeah, i jumped in with an upgrade to cs3 design premium, saw the disclaimer re: reinstalling software and saying goodbye to previous serials (stuck with bundle)

    however now i cannot see the option to “pay the difference”? or is that a straight upgrade option, do you guys know

    also i missed the bit about half the master bundle requiring latest intel processors (i have dual G5 machine… which is trucking well… until now, only picked this up as i downloaded the beta premiere

    new machine perhaps :(

  4. Naughtee – For upgrades on the individual titles in the design premium bundle you should be OK. Meaning, if next year you decide to just buy the Photoshop (CS4) upgrade (and not the bundle upgrade), that should work… at least it has on previous Adobe bundles.

    For the “pay the difference” deal on the Master Collection, it’s one of the standard upgrade options. But, it’s unknown if once you buy the Master Collection, if you’ll still be able to buy individual upgrades.

    Ya, that sucks about some of the apps needing Intel processors. I’m in the same boat. I have a dual G5 too. :(

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