Adobe products are rare in that I’ve never regretted upgrading — each upgrade has brought changes I’ve liked enough to think the upgrade was worthwhile. Contrast this with Quicken, where I’ve regretted every upgrade as it made the product slower and less reliable (until finally I’ve said “no more” and will not upgrade any further). The only thing I don’t like about newer Adobe products is the activation stuff. I don’t pirate software and I don’t appreciate things that are there to ensure that I don’t, thus taking valuable time and energy (both mine and my computer’s) for something that benefits me not one bit. Adobe’s form of this seems to be much less intrusive and inconvenient than most companies’ implementations that I have experienced.
Microsoft product upgrades are usually a mixed bag — some real benefits and some negative changes (the exceptions usually being 1.0 -> 2.0 and possibly 2.0 -> 3.0 where they figure out what the product really is and thus those upgrades are usually clearly worth it).
I wonder how much of this problem where upgrades aren’t really *upgrades* comes from areas where the products are basically “done” yet the company has built a significant source of revenue model from upgrades and thus needs to push out a release every x months no matter what. It may be that switching to a “monthly fee” for software that one uses might actually be preferable to an upgrade treadmill where the changes don’t improve things and companies are motivated to try and force upgrades.
Photo and video processing are still “new” enough that significant upgrades are still possible in both user interface streamlining and just new features (including more speed).