The following is posted in good faith.
I cannot be held responsible for errors and omissions.
Adobe is changing its policy for allowing updates to Photoshop (and other products in the Creative Suite). This may cause unwary users to miss the opportunity to obtain Photoshop CS6 (and future versions) at the upgrade price rather than the full price.
The previous policy was to allow upgrades to miss two versions. So it was possible to upgrade directly from Photoshop 7 to Photoshop CS3, missing out CS (which in effect was CS1) and CS2. Or to upgrade directly from Photoshop CS to CS4. It is temporarily still possible to upgrade directly from CS2 to CS5.
The new policy (below) will exist alongside a new release schedule. Major upgrades across the Creative Suite will be launched in “even” years, and intermediate upgrades will be launched in “odd” years. So 2011 saw an intermediate release (sometimes called CS5.5) across much of the Creative Suite, although not Photoshop. In 2012 there will be the launch of CS6, including a major upgrade to Photoshop.
In future, upgrades to major releases will only be allowed from the previous major release or the subsequent intermediate release. So upgrades to CS6 will only be allowed from CS5 or CS5.5. Without possessing those, CS6 will cost the full price, not the upgrade price.
Up to the end of the year, Adobe are allowing upgrades to Photoshop CS5 (at the previous policy) at a 20% reduced price. For users of earlier versions who want to upgrade to CS6 eventually, the “cheapest” path appears to be: upgrade to CS5 during 2011, then upgrade to CS6 when it arrives. While expensive, this will be cheaper than the full price for CS6.
Some information about this new policy:
Adobe Creative Cloud and Adobe Creative Suite: New Choices for Customers
Adobe Confirms Release Cycle for Creative Suite; CS6 Out Mid-2012
News: Adobe to Offer CS6 Upgrade Discount for CS5 Versions Only
This policy is being criticised:
I already have Photoshop CS5 so I am not affected.
I therefore cannot personally confirm the above or help identify best deals.