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Adobe Ships Creative Suite 3, Offers Video Betas

Adobe’s recently announced revisions to its flagship design, Internet, interactivity, video, and page layout software collectively sold as Creative Suite 3 (CS3) are now shipping (see “Adobe Announces Creative Suite 3 Plans, Pricing, Dates,” 2007-04-02). The company said “April” for the first four of six separate editions: Design and Web available in Standard and Pro releases. The latter two editions, one containing all 13 Creative Suite 3 programs, and the other focused on video editing and production, will ship in the third quarter of 2007.

The revised line-up of programs now available are universal binaries for Mac OS X, finally exploiting the power of Intel multi-core processors. In a nice bit of what is perhaps not coincidental timing, Apple last week announced the availability of eight-core (two four-core processor) Mac Pro desktops (for details, see “Apple Introduces Eight-Core Mac Pros,” 2007-04-09).

Adobe Previews Video — Coinciding with this week’s National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) conference, Adobe also released betas of its forthcoming video editing and effects applications, Premiere Pro CS3 and After Effects CS3 Pro. The former represents a return to the Mac for Adobe’s video editing application, which has been Windows-only since 2003.

At NAB, Adobe also showed off Adobe Media Player, software that might be to video, Flash, and Web pages what the Acrobat Portable Document Format (PDF) and Acrobat Reader have become to the printed and previewed page. The Adobe Media Player will let designers create offline media for later playback using formats typically designed to be embedded in Web pages.

Adobe Media Player will allow subscriptions to video feeds, feedback ratings of viewed videos, and other tools clearly designed for narrowcasting and broadcasting video content – especially when you read about the variety of advertising and branding features available to content producers in the player. The free player will be available later in 2007 as a beta and will ship before the end of the year.

Adobe vs. Microsoft — The Wall Street Journal is trying to stir up a little action about competition between Adobe and Microsoft via last weekend’s article, “Microsoft, Adobe Set a Collision Course.” Of course, it’s really Microsoft trying to challenge Adobe’s entrenched position with Flash and its creative applications, and Adobe trying to counter Windows Media Player by leveraging Flash’s dominance for embedded video playback at YouTube and elsewhere.

The article notes that Microsoft’s Silverlight will work much like Flash, and will work with Mac OS X and multiple browsers. Years of experience in getting Windows Media Player to play nicely with others isn’t encouraging. Plus, Microsoft’s Expression Studio is hardly a CS3 competitor, lacking critical pieces, including a Photoshop competitor, and the fact that some components of the suite have been in beta for years gives one pause too.

Microsoft has tried to beat Adobe before in areas that Adobe dominates. The operating system and business suite giant wanted to replace PDF with its own readers and interchange documents that wouldn’t require owning a copy of the creating application to view. Needless to say, attempts made multiple times over several years by Microsoft have resulted in no change in Acrobat’s near-total ownership of this task.

There are three reasons for this: Adobe has published its PDF specification, allowing third parties (including Apple) to roll their own compatible writers and readers; with the help of the prepress industry, Adobe turned PDF into a final format for prepping files to go on a printing press, rather than just a method to proof a job; and Adobe doesn’t particularly care what program creates a PDF file, just that every program can create such files.

We don’t see this as a fair fight: Adobe has won the hearts and minds of graphic designers over more than two decades. Microsoft doesn’t stand a chance unless it delivers superior tools, not just those that achieve parity in limited areas.

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