Adobe to release Intel-native Photoshop CS3 beta

Photoshop users who’ve been waiting for a version of the image-editing program that runs natively on Intel-based Macs are about to be rewarded for their patience. Adobe will release a beta of Photoshop CS3 on Friday, December 15, that’s available as a Universal Binary. The free beta can be downloaded at Adobe’s Web site by any user with a valid Creative Suite 2 or Photoshop CS2 serial number.

“This is a enormous watershed event at Adobe — we have never taken a flagship product and made it available this way,” John Nack, senior product manager for Adobe Photoshop, told Macworld . “It’s a way to do our best for the Macintosh customers.”

While the beta has many new features, the one that will interest most Mac users is that Photoshop is being released as a Universal Binary, meaning it will run natively on both PowerPC- and Intel-based Macs. The current version of Photoshop, CS2, requires Apple’s Rosetta emulation technology to run on Intel-based hardware, resulting in slower performance for those users.

Though still a beta, Photoshop CS3 features substantial speed gains for Intel Macs, according to Adobe’s Nack.

“I upgraded to a MacBook Pro and Photoshop just screams on that,” Nack said. “We are seeing an 40 percent increase in speed in addition to the 30 percent speed increase in what Rosetta was able to do with the 10.4.8 update.”

Photoshop CS3 beta also includes a pre-release version of a major upgrade to Adobe Bridge, as well as a preview release of the new Adobe Device Central. Integrated into Photoshop CS3, Device Central allows users to design, preview and test mobile content, created specifically for smaller screens.

The company will also unveil Adobe CSS Advisor, a new web-based community site to easily identify and resolve browser compatibility issues and Adobe Spry framework for Ajax, a designer-focused solution for adding Ajax to Web sites.

Recommended system requirements for Adobe Photoshop CS3 beta are Mac OSX 10.4.8 or 10.5, a 1GHz PowerPC G4 or G5 processor or an Intel based Mac. According to Adobe, the beta will expire soon after the launch of Photoshop CS3 in spring 2007. Details on final pricing, system requirements and availability have yet to be determined.

While users need a valid serial number to use the Photoshop CS3 beta without restriction, you can still download the beta and use it for two days before it expires.

“We couldn’t think of a better way to engage with our customers than to offer a beta,” Nack said. “The Intel transition for Mac has been really momentous—given how extraordinary it is, we wanted to do something as extraordinary.”

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