On the eve of a Vista-compatible Photoshop (and other Adobe apps), what are your options?

Via digg, I spotted a story from downloadsquad.com entitled Adobe says no way to Vista upgrades by Grant Robinson.

Via digg, I spotted a story from downloadsquad.com entitled Adobe says no way to Vista upgrades by Grant Robinson. The number of diggs between the time I originally spotted the story and now (the time I'm publishing this one) has nearly doubled (it's over 1100) which tells me it's a meme worth checking into. According to Robinson:

Adobe says you'll have to upgrade to new versions of popular (and really expensive) software like Photoshop, InDesign and DreamWeaver if you want them to run well under Windows Vista.....Current versions of many Adobe products won't run flawlessly under Windows Vista, this announcement only confirms that they never will. So, if you're a creative professional (who hasn't already jumped ship to OS X) start getting out the check book. Adobe's CS3 creative suite will be out next week, and it ain't gonna be cheap.

For me, the post raised several questions. For example, what is it about Vista that's interfering with the normal operations of Adobe's applications (is it just the new security lockdown?) and is it really true that Adobe won't be offering an patch to apps like Photoshop so that existing XP users can move their installation over to Vista, if they wanted to do that. Robinson is right about the upcoming announcements. Adobe intends to make a bunch of product announcements this coming Tuesday (March 27, 2007). 

It's also true that Adobe is not certifying its existing XP-compatible lineup of software to run on Vista. Earlier today, via telephone, Adobe senior director of product management Kevin Connor told me that Adobe has, through a third party, done some lightweight testing of existing versions of products like Photoshop on Windows Vista and, while he expects that most users won't experience any showstoppers, the company is not prepared to certify the products for usage on Windows Vista. According to Connor, in that testing, minor nuisances surfaced. For example, if a Vista system is being run under a non-administrative account (as Microsoft suggests you do), Photoshop will continue to bug you to register the software with Adobe even though you may have done so. Running the software under an administrative account makes the problem go away.

On first blush, it sounded to me like it wasn't too much to be concerned about. In other words, with a few showstoppers, perhaps people using Photoshop on Windows XP shouldn't all up in arms over running it on Vista. But then again, Connor made it clear that unless the software is running in under a certified configuration, Adobe will not be able to offer technical support. I don't know about you, but sacrificing technical support that I'm entitled to has never been high on my list. So, just supposing you're moving to Vista for whatever reasons, what's a user of an Adobe application like Photoshop to do.

You could upgrade to the new version which is expected to ship in the spring some time. Connor said the upgrade pricing should be inline with what the company has traditionally charged for such upgrades. Currently, to upgrade from Creative Suite 1.x to CS2 (the suite that Photoshop is a part of) is around $169 according to Connor. Connor says if you're thinking of buying a copy of CS2 now, you're better off waiting until CS3 is out this spring. 

But that still doesn't solve the problem of what to do if you have no choice but to move to Vista. for example, what if your existing system just crashed and the new on comes with Vista pre-installed on it. One option -- the one I'm taking as I move my apps over from my XP box to a Vista machine -- is to run your XP-only apps in a Windows XP-based virtual machine that depends on Microsoft's freely downloadable Virtual PC. You may have to acquire a separate license for a copy of Windows XP (eg: it's about $150 for a retail edition of XP Home) to run in that VM. But that's short money. Not only is it less expensive than the full upgrade for CS3, you can also use that XP virtual machine to put-off the upgrades of the other XP-only-certified apps that you're not ready to move to Vista yet (possibly representing an additional savings). 

While I haven't tried this course yet, one reason this should work really well (provided you have the original media for your Adobe applications) is that Adobe is one of the few companies whose software installation process actually works the way software installation and deinstallation should work. For example, when you deinstall Photoshop (or de-activate it through its menus), it literally restocks the Adobe's registration servers with the license number so that you can reinstall it on another machine. Not that you'll need to. As it turns out, Adobe's application also permit installation on two machines before the registration process will bomb the install.