Adobe: CS3 was half-baked, CS4 well done

Jonathan Seff, Macworld
26 September, 2008
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As part of this week’s Creative Suite 4 launch, Adobe taped a launch event Monday night that it broadcast on the Web to conicide with the announcement of its 13-product, six-suite package. And the takeaway message from that launch event—which the company says was watched live by 200,000 people on the Web—was this: CS3 was slow and tedious to work with, while CS4 will save you time, money, and repetitive strain injuries.

OK, maybe I’m paraphrasing a bit, but the bulk of the hour-long presentation—which had the feel of an infomercial mixed with a late-night talk show, with phrases such as “pushing the envelope,” “bleeding-edge,” and “monetisation”—was focused on features that let users do things more quickly than before.

After warnings from stage hands to not stand up lest we audience members be conked on the head by moving camera booms and some practice applauding on cue, Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen gave a quick intro in which he talked about Flash Player 10 and apps built on Adobe’s AIR technology, and then handed the show over to John Loiacono, one of Adobe’s senior vice presidents.

Loiacono, in turn, turned over a good part of the next 45 minutes—after making the point that CS4 was a “major overhaul of CS3” with hundreds of new features and more than 1,700 person years of work—to several customers who use CS applications in their daily work.

He and the CS4 users demonstrated (all on Macs) various activities in CS4 that took fewer clicks and less waiting than in the past—things such as live pre-flighting in InDesign, GPU-accelerated graphics in Photoshop (handy with a 442-megapixel image, it seems), content-aware scaling to remove the spaces between objects without messing up proportions—I believe it even makes colds go away faster.

“Those enhancements, while they may sound small to you and I, are like telling a truck driver you’re going to decrease [petrol] prices,” Loiacono said.

The other main talking points from Adobe’s presentation were innovation and integration. Of the latter, Loiacono said that Adobe was in the middle of developing CS3 when the company bought Macromedia in 2005 (whose former headquarters he was speaking in), and thus, didn’t have the time to fully integrate the two companies’ products in the suite that came out in 2007. With a full 18-month development cycle, Loiacono said the CS4 apps now share more common interface elements and work together better.

Is he right? Well, we won’t know for certain until Creative Suite 4 ships next month. In the meantime, you can form your own opinion of Adobe’s takeaway message by watching the Webcast of the launch event.

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