I've been working with CS4 for a few hours now throughout several days, and here is my initial impression:
1. This is the version we've been waiting for. Everything is smooth and streamlined.
2. Smooth installation, everything works. Remember the problems people were having with CS3's original print to Acrobat, among other bugs? Well there isn't any of that nonsense now. CS4 is smooth, really smooth. It loads, it works. No bull.
3. Real world upgrades that really matter, mainly navigation oriented. This results in a more fluid work flow, at least for me. For instance, all windows are undockable and float even over the borders of the PS windows. The tool tabs are better designed and more intuitive, and now we also have Adjustment tools as a panel also. These tools, when you use them, automatically create an adjustment layer.
Things are just easier to find, and they feel like they are just "right there" when you need them. There is a new concept called a sticky button, and you'll use it automatically because it's part of the system now. You click down on it and when you release it reverts back to the original BEFORE adjustment. So if you make an adjustment, and I'm not sure where this button is, but that's of no concern because I remember using it, and you want to see what it looked like before, you click down on the button, which show you a "before" layer and then when you release it, the adjustment you just made come back, so you don't need to "UNDO" "REDO". Now that is slick. It's just full of those little things like that. Another one, and maybe I'm mistaken about his, but if you right click a layer, you have Merge functions available as the last choices. So you don't need to go to the top of the tool bar>Layers>Merge Down any longer. There is a TON of this stuff in CS4.
4. The entire PS desktop is pretty much configurable, unlike CS, CS2, CS3 where for some reason Adobe confined us to a static workplace. The first thing you'll notice and say to yourself is something like, "Where are the borders and all the other clutter I'm use to?" This version is really streamlined as far as interface goes. I just don't have the ability to explain this aspect of PSCS4. How about, NON INTRUSIVE to a point of fine detail and NIMBLE? It's as if PSCS4 isn't even open.
5. 64 bit!!! YEAH! Although even working with RAW files from the 1DS3, with 4GB of RAM I have yet to run out of physical memory, even with Lightroom, PS, and other programs running in the back ground (I like to convert music while I work for my car stereo, and other things ). More importantly is that if you need more than 4GB of RAM, you're in business. With a 64bit OS, PSCS4's 64bit, and LR2's 64bit capabilities, you can use infinite amounts of RAM for those three programs. If you don't have a 64 bit OS, Adobe conveniently coded a 32 bit version of PSCS4 also, which loads on install. The two share the same settings. If you have a 64bit CPU, it gets even better, although I haven't noticed a huge speed increase. What I have noticed is that everything feels much punchier and more crisp. I get no mouse lag at anytime that I've noticed. PSCS4 is probably taking advantage of my dual core 64bit CPU, even though it's a first generation AMD x64. (I'm just now getting to really USE this CPU I bought in 2005.)
Although Adobe may charge far too much for their software, because they can, at least I feel like I'm getting exceptionally refined and top level, SOLID software. This version runs on jet turbine power.
I would like to see an expansion of the tabbed tools that Adobe has started. Like I said above, Adobe has put more tools there, mainly adjustments, such as levels, color, photo filters, etc., which really speeds up work flow and reduces mouse movement and clicking. I'd like to see Layers there too, such as Layer Mask>Reveal all/Hide all. They may be there but I've yet to discover them.
So I have this to say--so far regarding PSCS4+DWCS4+LR2 -- WAY TO GO ADOBE, EYES WIDE OPEN! Nice piece of work. I don't know if they fired people and rehired or hired better programmers/developers, but something has changed. The changes Adobe made this version are not seemingly the decision of one or a few people experimenting, but more like calculated, complex computer generated human interface engineering modeling put into real world use.
For those of you who might think this is a "fan boy" post, those of you who know me would not agree. If you look at my posts, you'll see I'm extremely analytical and critical of bugs and defects in both the hardware I use and the software--sometimes to a fault.
Hope this helps people in some way. That's what this forum is all about, right?
Have a nice day, night, cup of coffee, an so on.