QuarkXPress 7:  Quark’s Last, Best Hope

QuarkXPress 7: Quark’s Last, Best Hope

2005
Jan
26

QuarkXPress 7: It alone determines whether the war–and Quark–ends this year. Adobe and Quark are both test-firing their massive 10-megaton DTP missiles. Both will fire in 2005. Adobe’s InDesign 4 projectile intends to kill Quark. Quark’s XPress 7 rocket is only intended to keep Quark alive long enough to keep on fighting. If XPress 7 […]

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QuarkXPress 7: It alone determines whether the war–and Quark–ends this year.

Adobe and Quark are both test-firing their massive 10-megaton DTP missiles. Both will fire in 2005. Adobe’s InDesign 4 projectile intends to kill Quark. Quark’s XPress 7 rocket is only intended to keep Quark alive long enough to keep on fighting. If XPress 7 does not have the punch, InDesign will win, and Quark will fall to the rank of PageMaker.

With the next versions of both InDesign and QuarkXPress slated for release in the first half of this year, and defections from Quark to InDesign making headlines (here, here, and here, for example) the world over, the war between the two page layout giants is reaching critical mass. It could all be over in a few months.

If Quark 7 is not a radical departure from prior versions, if it does not meet InDesign head-on with support for mission-critical functions like full transparency, OpenType support, and old-world cum modern-again typographical control, 2005 could be the year that Quark falls.

When InDesign 4, the follow-up to InDesign CS, releases this spring, even more big name agencies will switch to it. Though Quark’s PR department is working over-time to build excitement for version 7 with NDA press and industry previews, the overall feeling across the industry is still one of trepidation. Few of those who have seen the still very much beta XPress 7 have also seen InDesign 4, now close to “gold master” or final shipping status. No one can say for sure which will better answer the changing needs of the publishing, advertising, and design markets.

QuarkXPress 7 will be the crucial pivot point. If it does what CEO Kamar Aulakh promises, Quark may live to fight another day. But, if it fails to fully match InDesign’s major features or introduce any significant feature advantage to InDesign, Quark will lose the war.

InDesign 4 will be Adobe’s best shot, an intercontinental ballistic missile to deliver the penultimate wallop on Quark’s Denver headquarters. The projectile is already in the air, speeding toward its target.

When it hits, Quark will have one shot at the ultimate retaliatory strike. The world will hold its breath for just a few more months. If XPress 7 comes late, if it does not pack in firepower equal to InDesign 4′s, Quark will lose Desktop Publishing War II.

It is all up to Quark. This summer, it could be winner take all.

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