Photoshop CS4 to be 64-bit for Windows, but not Mac

Adobe’s flagship product, Photoshop, will become a 64-bit application in the next major revision to the company’s bundle of creative pro applications, Creative Suite 4. However, the 64-bit version will only be available to Windows users because of a change Apple made at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in 2007.

The good news is that Adobe will make a 64-bit version for the Mac in the future.

“We can reassure people that literally from the day we found out Carbon 64-bit was cancelled, we have been figuring out what we need to do to get there,” John Nack, senior product manager for Adobe Photoshop, told Macworld.

At WWDC 2007 Apple discontinued its Carbon 64-bit program, which left company’s like Adobe without an avenue to make its current codebase 64-bit. What Adobe has to do now is transition all of the old Photoshop code to Apple’s native Cocoa programming language, where it can then be made 64-bit.

“If you want to go 64-bit on the Mac, you have to port to Cocoa and that’s not a trivial task,” said Nack.

Adobe said that they have been working on the Carbon 64-bit version of Photoshop for some time and had planned on releasing a version for Creative Suite 4 (CS4). However, with the changes at WWDC 2007, that is not going to happen.

“Our feeling has been to deliver 64-bit on both platforms for this release,” said Nack. “We could hold back the Windows 64-bit version until we could catch up on the Mac, but that didn’t seem fair to those customers.”

If one good thing can come out of the delay, Nack says Adobe will gain valuable experience in writing 64-bit applications, albeit for Windows.

While Apple has been dabbling with 64-bit support in its hardware and software for the past several years, Mac OS X Leopard is the company’s first 64-bit operating system. The move to 64-bit applications will help those that are working with huge amounts of memory (over 4GB) the most.

However, if you are using files for the Web or other smaller tasks, “you probably won’t see a huge speed bump,” said Nack. Adobe said you could expect an eight to 12 percent performance increase with the smaller files.

Just 24 hours ago, Adobe released its first Mac 64-bit application with the introduction of Photoshop Lightroom 2.0 beta.

Adobe wouldn’t give a timeframe on the release of the 64-bit version of Photoshop or when we could expect CS4, but the company usually works on an 18-24 month cycle in major product releases. Creative Suite 3 was released March 27, 2007.

“We work hard on platform parity and we know it’s going to be disappointing for Mac users, but we don’t want that to overshadow all the other good things we have for this release,” said Nack.

Updated: Corrected the expected performance boost for the 64-bit version of Photoshop. 4/3/08 5:48 am.

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