Over all, it’s pretty much the same with work area, bridge, and most of the tools and menus.
That being said, there are a few good new things, some things are now screwed up, some things not working anymore.
The blur tool finally works. The patch, spot healing and red eye tool has been joined by the Content Aware Move tool. It works ok, not fantastic (you can still get artifacts of where the moved object originally was that will have to be painted or cloned out), but it does work. The best part is that PS fills in the area the object was. It works great if the area isn’t filled with other things (example, I move a leaf floating in water, it filled in the area nicely).
Adobe Camera Raw doesn’t work with certain cameras yet. Now that could be because The RAW format doesn’t have a standard, but when both of my Canon cameras (5dMkIII and G1X) aren’t recognized in CS6. CS5 has a working non expiring Beta that does. You will get a nag screen that it’s a beta, but it does work. So, don’t uninstall your CS5. I’m fairly certain that the updated ACR will be out soon, and that sooner or later, there will be no futher updates for CS5 Camera raw. To me, this is just a way to force people into upgrading whether they want to or not.
Many of the tools still work or not work with the 32bit/64bit (some that don’t work in the 64 bit do still work in the 32bit versions, so install them both). BUT certain well used, well loved 3rd party tools are not going to be updated to work with CS6 64Bit. This I find distressing, as will many who use certain plugins in their photo developing finding out they don’t work, nor will they work (contacted developer of one 3rd party addon, and they said they won’t be updating certain suites of their software to work with CS6 64bit, but you can finagle it to work with the 32bit version). Also, you don’t have to overwrite your existing CS5/4/3 installation or uninstall it, as CS6 will install in its own directory, leaving you the option of using CS(Earlier version) for certain image processing.
One of my bugbears is this: they removed the BRIDGE button from the menu bar. Their reasoning is as follows; to make room. It’s a 10×10 pixel icon, it didn’t take up that much room! It was putting a hiccup in my workflow, having to either use keyboard, or navigate through the menus to find it. Upon asking about it, I was told “Just use mini bridge.”. Uhh no. It takes up about 1/4 of your work space. Use a 2nd monitor was the other suggestion. Are they going to buy it and the adapter for everyone? The good news is I do know the keyboard commands to launch it (Crtl+Alt+O), and I also use yLaunch, so I can launch both with one mouse click.
Performance: It does load up faster than it’s predecessor. The tool icons have been updated a bit, but are still recognizable as the tried and true. Now, I’ve only been using it for a few days, but other than having to jump to the 32bit or back into CS5 for certain tools, it’s been smooth sailing. Do I think this ‘update’ was all it was cracked up to be? No, to me it was “Oh gee, let’s finally fix some things that have been crappy since CS2, and call it CS6.” with some one or two extra bells and whistles. It’s good, but it should have been a free update for CS5 rather than a hefty priced “upgrade”.