Software collections (a bundle of software packages sold as a single product) have been around for a while. The most famous and widely-used collection on the planet is of course Microsoft Office. The Adobe Creative Suite is still a relative newcomer but it includes a dazzling array of products.
Adobes acquisition of the Macromedia brand now means that Adobe CS4 also includes the Macromedia software titles and to accommodate them, Adobe have tried to offer different flavours of Creative Suite 3 to suit all palettes.
So which one is best for you and your organisation? Well, if you are new to Adobe products, that depends on which products are your must-haves and which ones you can live without.
If you already own Adobe/Macromedia products then its really a case of identifying the bundle which offers you the most advantageous upgrade path. Adobe software falls into three broad categories: graphic design and publishing, web design and development and video/multimedia production. The three core bundles available reflect these categories. They are CS3 Design Standard (InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator and Acrobat), CS3 Web Standard (Dreamweaver, Flash, Fireworks and Contribute) and CS3 Production Premium (After Effects, Premiere Pro, Photoshop, Flash, Illustrator, Soundbooth and Encore).
In addition to these three core varieties, there are three composite versions of Adobe Creative Suite 3. The first two offer a cross-media mix. CS3 Design Premium adds Dreamweaver and Flash to the four basic components of CS3 Design Standard.
CS3 Web Premium adds Photoshop, Illustrator and Acrobat to the four packages offered in CS3 Web Standard. The third composite is the CS3 Master Collection which includes all of the above, all 12 packages found in the other CS3 versions.
Lets take the scenario where your company either has no Adobe products or perhaps just one or two but no bundles. Well, what you need to do here is to identifying the key Adobe products that your organisation needs.
Naturally, this will involve some research. The Adobe web-site contains tons of information on all Adobe products and, if you need to evaluate an unfamiliar product, why not download a 30-day trial version of the software and have a play with it.
Next, you can try to gauge whether your software requirements for the next couple of years fall into one or more of the three categories addressed by the Adobe bundles. If they fall into a single category, then your will need one of the three core bundles. If they fall into more then one category, then consider purchasing one of the composite bundles.
If you already have Adobe Creative Suite 1 or CS2 Standard, then you can opt for a straight upgrade to CS3 Design Standard. This will provide you with new versions of the software you already have or, if you plan to cross over into web development, you might like to consider CS3 Design Premium which will add Dreamweaver and Flash to your arsenal.
If you have Adobe Creative Suite 2 Premium, then you can get an upgrade to CS3 Design Premium. There will be no GoLive but, on the plus side, you will now have Dreamweaver and Flash: not a bad replacement.
If you own the Macromedia Studio bundle then you can a straight upgrade to CS3 Web Standard. This offers current versions of the four packages you currently have with the Adobe brand replacing Macromedia.
Alternatively, you can go for CS3 Web Premium and add Photoshop, Illustrator and Acrobat to your collection. If you own the Adobe Video Collection or Adobe Production Studio, your only real option is to upgrade to the Adobe Creative Suite 3 Production Premium.
And finally, whatever bundle you currently own, if your budget permits it, why not go the whole hog and opt for the Adobe Creative Suite 3 Master Collection
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