The $999 Adobe Creative Suite 4 Web Standard package is built for Web page designers and animators who don't need to build or edit graphics from scratch with the help of Photoshop and Illustrator. Its key components include the updated Dreamweaver and Fireworks for dynamic Web design, plus Flash for animation. You'd spend around $1,400 buying these programs one by one. We've rated Web Standard excellent despite its exclusion of Photoshop and Illustrator, mostly because we like the big improvements to Flash. Those who need graphics and audio editing may want to consider the $1,699 Web Premium package. The charts below detail the contents of and pricing for this and other CS4 suites; please click on the images of individual applications to learn what's new inside each of them.
The release of Adobe Creative Suite 3 in 2007 was the first to incorporate former properties from Macromedia, such as Flash. With Creative Suite 4, Adobe has unified the interfaces of all the applications for a more seamless experience. Work space adjustments to CS4 include panels that are more nimble than its predecessors, and handy pull-down menus with preset styles enable you to shift among work space layouts quickly.
Setup and interface
The Web abounds with complaints about Adobe's installer and updater, and most are justified. Every Windows application installer suggests you close any running applications, but you can usually ignore it and 99 percent of the time everything works out fine. Adobe forces you to close your browser and all Microsoft Office applications, because many of the programs in the suite spread like tentacles throughout your working environment. That's pretty appalling in and of itself, but in addition to wasting a large chunk of time installing, you can't do anything else but play Solitaire while it's happening. And as before with the updater, you'll get to relive this delightful close-your-apps-or-else experience on a regular basis. Plus, the installation "progress" bar bears no relation to reality whatsoever, with its two steps forward and one step back movement.
Unfortunately, it took us nearly two hours to install the Adobe Master Collection CS4 on Windows Vista and XP machines (We didn't test CS4 thoroughly on a Mac). That's still less time than with CS3, and installing the much smaller Web Standard will likely take less time, especially since it lacks Acrobat 9. Adobe's custom installation still lets you pick and choose which components to embrace or reject, but there's no mechanism for migrating your settings and all your custom tools from CS3 and earlier.
To install Creative Suite 4 Web Standard, Windows users need at least Windows XP SP2 or Vista, with a 2GHz or faster processor. The necessary available disk space is 9.1GB, perhaps more during installation. Mac users will need a PowerPC G5 or Intel-based machine with at least Mac OS X version 10.4.11, as well as 1GB of RAM and 11.2GB of available disk space. For either Windows or Macs, installation comes via a DVD. The display must be 1,280x900-pixel resolution with 32-bit video card and 16MB of VRAM. Shader Model 3.0 and OpenGL 2.0 may also be necessary. These system requirements are less stringent than for those suites involving video, such as Production Premium and the Master Collection.