Adobe: We 'Absolutely' Support OS X

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Stung by news reports of strained relations with Apple and grumblings among Mac users about its commitment to Mac OS X, Adobe went on the PR offensive Monday to proclaim its support for all things Mac. But while the software maker reaffirmed its plans to develop OS X-native
versions of its flagship products -- and said Illustrator and InDesign would
be the next applications to run natively in the new OS -- it continued its policy of declining to give specific release dates.

Adobe has been feeling heat from Mac users recently, as demand for OS X-ready software has increased. The issue came to a head two weeks ago when Adobe announced it wouldn't be among the exhibitors at this month's Macworld Expo in New York. While Adobe plans a presence at the biannual trade show, hosting a user group breakfast and sponsoring a design contest, it won't have a booth on the show floor -- a departure from years past when Adobe's booth was among the largest exhibits at the Expo. Adobe said economic reasons and cost-controlling measures were behind its decision to cut back its Macworld Expo presence.

Nevertheless, Adobe's move sparked speculation in the Mac community, capped off by a MacUser U.K. article that cited tension between Apple and Adobe over OS X as the real reason for the Expo no-show. The MacUser article also quoted unnamed sources that attributed the lack of OS X-ready versions of key Adobe products to "disagreements . . . concerning the stability and performance of Apple's latest operating system and its APIs (application program interface tools)."

One Big, Happy Family?

Speaking to Macworld editors Monday, Susan Altman Prescott, vice president of marketing, cross-media publishing, denied any serious friction between Apple and its key developer. "Adobe and Apple have had and continue to have a close relationship," she said. "I would almost call it familial."

To that end, Altman Prescott added, Adobe's decision to not have a booth at Macworld Expo in New York was the result of economic reasons, brought on by the ongoing slump in the technology market, and not friction with Apple. The company also skipped this year's PC Expo and the Internet World trade show in spring -- a sign cited by Altman Prescott that Adobe was not freezing out the Mac platform.

While acknowledging that the software development process can occasionally make relations with Apple "intense," Altman Prescott said the two companies are working well together on OS X issues.

"Cooperation from Apple has, in general, been good," she added.

For that reason, Adobe remains committed to plans to develop software for Apple's next-generation operating system. "Adobe absolutely supports the direction Apple is taking with OS X," Altman Prescott said. "The Mac platform is an important part of our business. That hasn't changed."

Indeed, Adobe's Web site lists its OS X plans for each of its applications. In the case of major products such as Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop, Adobe says the next major releases will be OS X-native. That means X.5 updates as well as X.0 versions "in Adobe-speak," Altman Prescott says. Illustrator and InDesign will be Adobe's next OS X releases (Acrobat Reader 5 already runs natively in OS X).

No Dates Announced

But when pressed for specific release dates, Adobe stuck to its policy of declining to comment, citing competitive concerns. Adobe also declined to follow the lead of other companies that, while not announcing specific release dates, have given general time frames for when they expect to come out with products.

Illustrator's major rival, Macromedia FreeHand, began shipping as an OS X-native application this spring. Quark, which makes the layout application that InDesign competes with, plans to concentrate on readying QuarkXPress 5 for release in the next six to nine months, before it develops an OS X-native version.

"We recognize that a lot of users would like us to articulate dates, but for competitive reasons, we can't do that," Altman Prescott said. "There's been a lot of discussion about the right way to handle this . . . but right now, we're adhering to our policy."

Altman Prescott confirmed that three Adobe products will not be seeing OS X updates anytime soon -- Adobe Type Manager Deluxe, PageMaker, and FrameMaker.

Citing the extensive development work that would go into creating an OS X-native version of ATM Deluxe, Adobe has recommended Mac users adopt other companies' font-management tools as alternatives. PageMaker just saw a major update last month. Adobe says it won't commit to making PageMaker OS X-native, whether it be in the next major release or at all.

As for FrameMaker -- the subject of heated debate on the forums -- the next major release of the publishing application won't run natively in OS X because it would require extensive work on the software's 15-year-old code base. While Altman Prescott didn't rule out a future version of FrameMaker for OS X, she said Adobe would have to move cautiously because of the older code.

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