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QuarkXPress defines and dominates high-end publishing in much the same way as Adobe Photoshop does photo-editing. Take a look at any newsstand and the vast majority of publications on sale will have been designed with it.

With such a demanding user-base Quark has to make sure that it has got everything absolutely right before releasing a new version and it's now almost four years since the last major upgrade, 4.0, was released. That's an age in software terms, so expectations are naturally high. More importantly during this time Adobe has developed its own rival to XPress, InDesign (see review). Competition has clearly focused Quark's mind and just two days after Adobe announced that InDesign 2 was shipping, Quark did the same for the US version of XPress 5 with the International English version expected by the time you read this.

It's clear that Quark is determined to crush InDesign before the young pretender wins any converts. The big question is - does XPress 5 do enough to secure its following and to protect its crown?

Unrest has certainly been brewing amongst XPress's users for some time now and for one over-riding reason - the Web. Almost by definition, XPress users are in the business of shifting regular amounts of high-value content and they naturally want to be able to deliver this content on screen as well as on paper. As Brett Mueller, senior product manager at Quark puts it: "Our customers have told us that it is vital for them to manage costs by merging print and Web workflows." In the past Quark tried to provide its own proprietary Web solution to enable this in the form of its Immedia technology, but that proved completely impractical and died a death. Now Quark has embraced open standards and is determined to make XPress as natural a choice for Web publishing as it is for print.

QuarkXPress is faster than versions 6 and 7.

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