Tuesday, March 27, 2007Home

Don't worry, it only looks like Vista

The release versions of Adobe's Photoshop CS3 have been announced. Two versions make up the release: the standard Photoshop CS3, and Photoshop CS3 Extended. The latter will include the new bells and whistles that aren't essential to the package that many of us are accustomed to working with. What are these brand-new features, one might ask with more than a little apprehension—after all, how many press releases have blasted with nothing new to report, aside from a change in the number next to the program's name?

From Adobe's press release, courtesy of DPReview.com:

The addition of an entirely new version of Photoshop, Photoshop CS3 Extended, means creative professionals can now discover new dimensions in digital imaging, harnessing everything in Photoshop CS3 plus groundbreaking tools for 3-D, motion graphics, image measurement and analysis. Photoshop CS3 Extended expands the boundaries of digital imaging, simplifying the workflows for professionals in architecture, engineering, medicine, and science.

Fortunately, all of these lofty promises are combined in one not-so-modestly-priced package. Upon seeing the image to the left, I had this kneejerk reaction: here are the signs that Microsoft's proliferation of "flavors" for Windows Vista had been adopted by Adobe, and the whole ridiculous practice had become a widespread fad. I was expecting to see half a dozen versions, perhaps one for "Amateur Photographer" or another for "2-D Media Artist."

I'm not being fair to Adobe. They still make a great product, and their high price tags are justified. The differences between these two versions are at once easy to grasp, and the fact that most Photoshop users are computer-literate means that the company can go ahead and try to sell a new version without insulting anyone's intelligence. Adobe is setting out for new territory, and remains committed to maintaining its concern for its customers.

My bias against Microsoft's strategy, and fears that it will become standard practice, comes from years of working with (and frustration stemming from) the various versions of Windows. Security is always one of the main selling points for Windows, and a legitimate one, but for god's sake get all of these gratuitous add-ins and background programs out of my face. I wouldn't mind the exhausting mix of new accessibility features if they didn't slow my system down considerably (especially over a long enough timeline).

I don't want to have to hit ctrl-alt-delete every time I boot up my computer, or learn all over again how to cauterize my start-up list because Windows had to sell us a new version, one that doesn't actually address any of the old problems. A new version of Windows may help your computer run faster—after you've just installed it. Computer owners everywhere are duped into buying the same program every few years because they're convinced they need it, when all they really might need is a RAM upgrade for a fraction of the cost of a new operating system like Windows.

At some point, about a year or so ago, the term "workflow" was made into a buzzword in the imaging industry. Adobe recognized the difficulties that professionals encountered in navigating their program, and has transformed it into a strong selling point. We need an appropriate term for the computer constipation that all users of Windows, regardless of their expertise, have to deal with. Aside from the one in the previous sentence (I don't think it would look good on a press release).


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