It’s quite astonishing how hard it is to find this information, but yes — if you buy CS4 today (from a retailer, not eBay or whatever) you are eligible for a free upgrade to CS5.
I ended up going to the Campus supply store and simply asking what the upgrade policy was, but even then I decided to try to find some kind of written verification before I broke the seal on the packaging.
Here’s a link to the relevant page on what passes for Adobe’s website. It links to a second page which includes the following information:
- Adobe will not tell people about free upgrades, you need to figure it out yourself
- Free upgrades “normally” become available two weeks after the product ships
- You’ll need to fax proof of purchase (PDFs won’t do?) unless you bought the product direct from Adobe (via their wonderful online store…)
- It takes two-to-three weeks to process the upgrades
So, aside from the fact that Adobe won’t go out of its way to tell customers about the upgrades or the upgrade policy, their policy is fairly reasonable.
I can only assume that Adobe would prefer not to sell CS4 boxes already out there. (does this mean Adobe has already booked revenue for the stuff that’s out on store shelves, or that it hopes some copies will not be returned? Charming.)