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Opening the AI files directly into FW is probably your best option, but as you noted, you may find that your gradient colors change. This could be due to the fact the FW does not support CMYK, and the the colors are converted to RGB when you open the AI file in FW. More likely in your case, though, you're using a gradient effect in AI that is not supported in FW. Generally, FW does a decent job of supporting gradients from AI, but there's always an exception I guess.
There is no legacy option for Fireworks. If you have true text in your file, your client will likely run into issues in FW8, as the text engine was changed to the Adobe Type Manager in CS4. FW8 did not support pages, either, so if your design uses more than one page, your client will only see the first page of the design.
Thanks for the help! I actually figured out what portions of the files were causing the issues around midnight last night. So two of the files had a clipping mask set up with an item that was setup at 20% opacity. So that portion was causing an issue. The second part was actually coming form an inner glow effect in Illustrator.
So with that being said - the opacity issue was an easy fix. The inner glow was sort of an easy fix. The issue I run into here is that the inner glow effect in illustrator looks different than the inner glow effect in FW. I tried all the differnt setting in FW (at least I think I did, but it was late) and I couldnt seem to make it an even glow. It always wanted to be heavier on one side. Ultimatley I just dropped it since my client wasnt being to picky.
Thanks again for the help.
Inner glow should be equal on all four sides, but perhaps the gradient and opacity settings were interfering with it.
Glad you got things sorted!