Quark tightening upgrade policy for XPress publishing program

Anticipating an August release date for QuarkXPress 10, Quark will soon tighten its upgrade policy for users of earlier versions of its professional design and layout software.

As of June 30, Quark is putting an end to its liberal one-price promotion, which let users of any version of QuarkXPress upgrade to the current version 9, and allowed users of version 9 to upgrade to version 10 for free. That promotion, which was in effect for the last two upgrade cycles, is about to end; when it does, owners of legacy QuarkXPress licenses will no longer be able to upgrade to version 9 or 10.

"We've had particularly generous upgrade promotions running on and off for several years," Gavin Drake, Quark's vice president of marketing, told Macworld. "We wanted to give one last push to customers on those older versions to upgrade to the latest version to make sure they get the best possible experience of QuarkXPress on current operating systems."

The wrinkle Quark added to its promotion this month was that not only could users upgrade from any previous version, they would also get QuarkXPress 10 for free. "I would think having run these promotions for this many years, if you had any serious interest in moving to a more modern version of QuarkXPress, now would be the time to do it," Drake said.

According to Quark, only about 5 percent of customers still use legacy versions of the software, and some of those versions date back more than 15 years. Drake says customers don't have to install and use the new versions immediately, but can choose to continue using their current version and upgrade when they are ready.

Owners of QuarkXPress 3 through 7 can upgrade to version 9 through June 30 and then upgrade to version 10 for free, when it is released. Thereafter, only new licenses to QuarkXPress 10 will be available. Owners of QuarkXPress 8 can upgrade to version 9 until August 30. Once QuarkXPress 10 is available, QuarkXPress 8 will no longer be eligible for an upgrade.

Moreover, because of code modernization for QuarkXPress 10, the upcoming version will open only those documents saved in QuarkXPress 7 and higher. To be sure they can open older QuarkXPress files on modern operating systems and to eventually migrate their files to version 10, users will need at least one license of QuarkXPress 9.

Technical support for versions 7 and 8 will be available until June 30 and December 31, respectively. "It's very difficult for any hardware or software vendor to continue to support legacy versions of their products indefinitely...there are clearly technical issues involved," Drake said. Though Quark ends technical support for QuarkXPress 7 effective June 30, customers can continue to get support relating to installation and activation for a fee of $20.

InDesign CC watch

Within the designer community, there's been an uptick in the general buzz recently around a "comeback" for Quark, especially in light of the hostility some have directed toward arch-rival Adobe InDesign over the company's switch to the Creative Cloud subscription model.

While Quark is watching that conversation with some interest, Drake anticipates that many Adobe customers will—despite their current reservations—eventually adopt Adobe's cloud model. "I think it's a bit premature to forecast Adobe's demise. I'm sure that many customers will move to Creative Cloud, even those who at this point are objecting to it."

While Drake considers Quark's pricing updates ahead of version 10 as a separate issue, he says Quark is nonetheless "completely open to having a special offer in this area and would love to hear from InDesign users who are interested in making the switch. If demand is sufficient I’m sure we can put together a compelling offer," he said. 

Quark also estimates that many users—perhaps as much as 50 percent of the market—have both QuarkXPress and InDesign licenses; those users vary in terms of the versions they use and the percentage of their work they do in each tool. "It might be more a case of customers that have QuarkXPress starting to use it more rather than explicitly switching," Drake said.

QuarkXPress 9 costs $849 and runs on Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later and Windows XP (Service Pack 2 or 3), Windows Vista 1.0, or Windows 7. Upgrades are $349.

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