The latest and greatest version of the Adobe products are due to be released very soon (I’d guess at middle of next month). However to complicate things Adobe has introduced a new concept for CS6 – the Creative Cloud.

The Creative Cloud is a subscription model where you pay a monthly fee – US$49.99 (or a little more if you’re in the UK) – which entitles you to download and use any Adobe product so long as your subscription remains active. With the normal cost of the retail versions being far (far) higher, this does lower the entry bar for those wanting to use Adobe tools. But if you’ve already got a product or suite and want to upgrade your options are not as clear.

Adobe moved a couple of years ago to an annual upgrade cycle. They release a main product upgrade (CS5, CS6) every two years and an interim release, containing bug fixes and minor new functionality, in the intervening year. So if you want to keep current and upgrade every year the Creative Cloud might be a better option. However if you wait for the major release, buying the retail version might make more sense.

That said, I’ve noticed a quick switch Adobe have made! I own the CS5 Web Premium suite. However there isn’t a CS6 Web Premium option. They have combined the design and web suites for CS6 and as a result the cost to upgrade is far more ( around £714). However if you’re quick and upgrade to CS5.5 before May 6th you will get the CS6 upgrade for free. This means I could upgrade to the CS5.5 Web Premium suite for £330 and get the CS6 Design & Web Premium upgrade for free (effectively saving me £380).

So things seem to be a little more complicated this time. I haven’t made the decision yet about what upgrade path I’m going to take. I’m doing a little more video now – timelapse, etc – and access to Premiere and After Effects would be useful, in which case it would make sense to purchase the Creative Cloud subscription. However if like me you own an Adobe product or suite I would recommend you to carefully examine your upgrade options as soon as possible as purchasing the upgrade to CS5.5 before May 6th may work in your favour.