In the interests of full disclosure, nota bene that I am an irregular contributor to QuarkVsInDesign.com
Accoding to this post on the QuarkVSInDesign site. details of the improvments to Adobe's signature Photoshop application, dubbed Photoshop CS2 (the second release of Photoshop under the Creative Suite banner, essentially Photoshop 9) have been leaked to the world.
Apparently what happened is that someone accidentally posted a press release at Adobe. Think Secret and AppleInsider both pounced on it. Cue QuarkVSInDesign, a website devoted to covering what we like to call "Desktop Publishing War II".
There's some mighty tasty features there. If this is the sort of thing you like, go look via the link above, which has links to the two rumor websites as well as a link to a PDF (appropriate?) of the press release.
As May comes closer, I also understand we are to expect the full release of the whole Creative Suite 2. Some feel this sets the stage for a marketing hearts-and-minds battle that will be joined in full when Quark, Inc finally releases XPress 7. The best I've been able to find out is "sometime this year", in a stream of rumor and chatter that is utterly devoid of XPress 7 screenshots.
That's where it's gonna be for me. See, some time ago I vaguely remember chatter that a goal for Quark was to make
XPress 7 "more InDesign-like". As far as I'm concerned, interface is all, or nearly all. The look of the Adobe apps go for a common theme and a common look and atmosphere. With the preponderance of positive press that Adobe has gotten over the Suite, the well-designed interface of Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator reinforce an overall positive user experience.
It feels modern and up-to-date.
QuarkXPress, on the other hand got a great facelift when it moved out of the Classic shell and into a spiffy new Aqua outfit. But it was still the old QuarkXPress; the palettes were still the same palettes, the toolbox was still the same toolbox. It still, even with PSD Import and QuarkVista, feels like release 3, 4, and 5.
XPress 3 was released back in 1990. You didn't misread that: Nineteen Ninety. Xpress 4 was the version you encountered between 1997 and 2002...that's five years with nothing more than a point update. The front end of QuarkXPress hasn't significantly changed in fifteen years.
Here's Quark's dilemma. They not only have to update the application, to make it relevant to layout artists and prepress pros in a world where Adobe offers such long sought-after features as native transparency support (QuarkXPress users: no clipping paths!!!), built-in PSD support, and superior PDF output, but they also have to make XPress users feel like they're moving into the future in all ways. And that happens when the interface design evolves along with the program. Adobe users already feel this way.
I predict (I have no info to base this on, just a hunch) that QuarkXPress's interface will evolve with 7. I think we'll be working in an XPress that looks a lot like InDesign. Quark has a great negative legacy it's trying to live down; so far, with the new XTensions, the free upgrades, and the quick and courteous email support, they've made strides. But it still, so far, is a qualified success at best; PSD Import and QuarkVista aren't perfect, and email support quality has been hit-and-miss.
Quark could add even more spiffy new features (like inline drop shadows), but unless Quark scores major style points, Adobe will increase its lead over Quark, because in Adobe you get Viper styling at a Saturn price, instead of Quark, which gives you Saturn styling at a Viper price.