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Microsoft Graphics Software

MS Unveils Beta of New Image Editing Program 492

docdude316 writes "CNET is running a story about Microsoft's new photo editing software, Acrylic. The new program is based on Expression, which Microsoft purchased in 2003. From the article: 'Microsoft describes the software--currently available as a 77MB free download--as bringing together pixel-based painting and vector graphics features. These capabilities will put the product squarely in the market currently dominated by software maker Adobe Systems with its pixel-focused Photoshop and vector-driven Illustrator products. Acrylic appears to support opening and exporting to Photoshop and Illustrator file formats, as well as other standard graphics formats. In addition, the application appears to be able to export to Adobe's Portable Document Format, or PDF.'
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MS Unveils Beta of New Image Editing Program

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  • by MoonBuggy (611105) on Friday June 10, 2005 @01:20PM (#12782055) Journal
    Competing with Photoshop because it does vector and raster imaging? Isn't that like saying a Skoda is competing with a Porsche because they both have wheels and an engine?
  • Office (Score:3, Insightful)

    by linuxci (3530) on Friday June 10, 2005 @01:20PM (#12782063)
    This can export to PDF? I'd have thought it more useful for them to add this feature to MS Office. Hopefully that feature will follow.
  • Not even JPEG (Score:5, Insightful)

    by n0mad6 (668307) on Friday June 10, 2005 @01:21PM (#12782083)
    From TFA:

    However, Microsoft noted Acrylic would not currently save pixel-type data to formats other than its native XPR file type.

    Being able to save as PDF is great and all, but it looks like this thing still has a ways to go before being useful.

  • Re:Nice (Score:2, Insightful)

    by TheOldFart (578597) on Friday June 10, 2005 @01:24PM (#12782126)

    it's still nice to finally see some real competition to Photoshop

    How can you call it real competition when the thing is being pushed, I mean, given for free? Doesn't this sound a bit like IE and every other market segment Microsoft crushes by baiting with free stuff?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 10, 2005 @01:27PM (#12782160)
    Hey, if they make a better product, more power to them. It's just going to be hard to do. First, Adobe products are more or less the industry standard, with a specific demographic with specific goals and interests.

    What was telling about the linked article is that people are having such a bad reaction to it. Granted, we all know that Microsoft can operate on the scale of years when they want a market, but unveiling a poorly polished offering seems like a bad idea if they're aiming to capture the pro designer/artist market. These people just want to achieve their goals, and a bad first impression can drive them back to familiar territory pretty easily.

    Then again, we're talking Microsoft here, so they can probably wait a long time. I'll be interested to see what future releases are like.

  • by TheFlyingGoat (161967) on Friday June 10, 2005 @01:30PM (#12782206) Homepage Journal
    Lots of comments already about how MS isn't innovating. Of course they aren't. Neither was Open Office, Gimp, Firefox, etc. Not all software needs to be innovative to be successful. It just needs to be as good or better than alternatives, or fit a niche market that isn't filled already.

    Since the market for graphics programs is filled already, MS needs to make this at least as good as Gimp and Photoshop for it to be successful. Since this is only a beta, only time will tell if they've done that.

    Besides, I thought having choices was a good thing? Once MS starts unfairly competing in the graphics program industry, then start complaining about it. Until then, this is a good thing.
  • Portable (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Savage-Rabbit (308260) on Friday June 10, 2005 @01:35PM (#12782249)
    it's still nice to finally see some real competition to Photoshop, especially considering that the price of Acrylic will be much lower than that of Photoshop.

    True, if some competition brings the price of Photoshop down a few pegs then that would be nice. Still, one is left hoping that this isn't the beginnign of "Operation kill Adobe". Photoshop may be expensive but at least it is available on more platforms than just Windows.
  • by Blakey Rat (99501) on Friday June 10, 2005 @01:36PM (#12782279)
    I thought the general concensus on this board is that competition of software products is a good thing which makes *all* the products better, or am I mistaken? (At least, that's the viewpoint people give when others complain about Linux having a whole bunch of different widget libraries and thousands of text editors.)

    But as usual, it sums up as "if you don't like it, don't use it." Why insult Microsoft for making it? Why not think positively and stop being so cynical for once?

    Sure, maybe it can't compete with Photoshop, ok. What about Photoshop Elements? What about Corel Painter? Maybe it'll help make ALL those products better by introducing a new interface idea or unique type of filter. Who knows?
  • by ScentCone (795499) on Friday June 10, 2005 @01:38PM (#12782304)
    Damnit, Microsoft! You're like that kid on the playground who always wanted someone else's toy, just because someone else had them. If you don't quit bullying the other kids, Microsoft, no one is going to want to play with you.

    Right! Because, before PhotoShop came along, no one had ever produced a paint program before...

    The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.
  • Re:Nice (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ncmusic (31531) on Friday June 10, 2005 @01:39PM (#12782311)
    What's your point? Why Gimp requiresd GTK+ 2.4. Shame on M$ for requiring the newest version of their operating system for new software!
  • Re:Portable (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jimicus (737525) on Friday June 10, 2005 @01:41PM (#12782329)

    Photoshop may be expensive

    It is expensive. But it's not intended for Joe Bloggs cropping the crappy little images he makes with his £90 digital camera.

    I will be very surprised if this has significant impact on Adobe's core market.
  • by kfg (145172) on Friday June 10, 2005 @01:41PM (#12782335)
    Isn't that like saying a Skoda is competing with a Porsche because they both have wheels and an engine?

    In the sense that a Skoda is not a Porsche, no.

    In the sense that the availability of a Skoda with four seats and a hatchback for $10K means you aren't constrained to buy a Boxster with only two seats and no luggage capacity for $50K just because it's the only car in town. . .yes.

  • by mgpeter (132079) on Friday June 10, 2005 @01:41PM (#12782336) Homepage
    Microsoft is a convicted monopolist, why on earth do the courts allow them to snatch up all of the companies that they are buying ?

    Granted Image Editing is not terribly important, but when you realize they purchased Antivirus and Anti-Adware companies......They are going to use their market muscle (monopoly) to create a subscription based model, all pre-installed with any and every new computer.

    They should have broke that company up.
  • by The Bungi (221687) <thebungi@gmail.com> on Friday June 10, 2005 @01:43PM (#12782363) Homepage
    So it's OK to rip other people's ideas off as long as you give them away? Interesting.
  • by The Bungi (221687) <thebungi@gmail.com> on Friday June 10, 2005 @01:48PM (#12782426) Homepage
    This is intriguing. Work with me for a second here, OK?

    Mozilla for example is based on ideas, technology and a codebase developed by Netscape. How does Mozilla innovate?

    Open source did not create IM, but they copied it to death. How does Jabber and the lot innovate?

    MySQL is "ripping off" established commercial databases now, putting in innovative things like stored procedures, views and UFDs. Does MySQL innovate?

    The GiMP is a Photoshop ripp-off, so much so that with every new version of PS the GiMP developers have rushed to provide their own substandard "alternatives" to some PS features. Does the GiMP innovate?

    KDE has always looked like Windows. They copied the taskbar, the start menu, the tray notification area and so on. Does that mean that KDE does not innovate?

  • Re:Nice (Score:3, Insightful)

    by julesh (229690) on Friday June 10, 2005 @01:50PM (#12782440)
    Well, yes. Unless there are valid technical reasons for it (which seems unlikely), then the only reason for doing it is to tie sales of Acrylic into additional XP sales. This is dubious behaviour, and if they do manage to gain a significant portion of the market share in image editors could open them up to further legal action under the EU anti-competitive business practices legislation.

    IANAL, etc.
  • by ettlz (639203) on Friday June 10, 2005 @01:55PM (#12782505) Journal
    Isn't that like saying a Skoda is competing with a Porsche because they both have wheels and an engine?

    I don't think Volkswagen would confuse its marketing like that...

  • by ivan256 (17499) * on Friday June 10, 2005 @01:59PM (#12782564)
    Why insult Microsoft for making it?

    It sounded to me more like he was insulting Microsoft for caliming they were innovative. Copying what other businesses are doing, or even doing what other successful businesses are doing, but doing it a little bit better is a respectable business model. Doing all that but claiming you're the big innovator in the field is just plain dishonest.

    I guess if you put words in the parent poster's mouth your comment becomes insightful though.
  • by TheFlyingGoat (161967) on Friday June 10, 2005 @02:00PM (#12782589) Homepage Journal
    It has features and methodology that make it an innovator, but it's still just a web browser with tabs and plugins. There were other tabbed browsers before Firefox came along.

    In the same way, Acrylic may have some interesting features that are innovations over what Photoshop or Gimp had, but it's still just a graphics program.

    If you want to consider Firefox an innovator, then you need to consider every Microsoft product one as well, since all of them have extended the features of their predecessors in some way. I'd prefer to refer to none of them as innovators unless the program as a whole is completely unlike anything before it.
  • by bonk (13623) on Friday June 10, 2005 @02:07PM (#12782676)
    Doesn't that descripe most oss apps?
  • by whois_drek (829212) on Friday June 10, 2005 @02:08PM (#12782697)
    What do you want to bet that one reason MS chose "Acrylic" is because it would put them one spot above "Adobe" in alphabetical listings of image-editing software? :)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 10, 2005 @02:08PM (#12782700)
    No, because MS probably has legitimate liscense.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 10, 2005 @02:12PM (#12782763)
    With all the best will in the world, the GIMP is a fantastically powerful program turned into a pile of shit by its controlling high priests who absolutely refuse to make its User Interface even moderately sane.

    The GIMP is the only image manipulation program I have ever used, for several years, yet it's utterly opaque to me --- I'm still forever running around View, Image, Layer, and Filter trying to find the blessed tool I want. I have never used Photoshop nor Paint Shop Pro so the usual dismissive retorts of "Oh you've been brainwashed by Photoshop" hold no water. The GIMP interface is simply **USELESS**, full stop.

    FFS, I hope that MS's announcement does something to change this dreadful state of affairs.
  • Re:Nice (Score:4, Insightful)

    by krelian (525362) on Friday June 10, 2005 @02:29PM (#12782983)
    So would you prefer them to put a price on it
    for the sake of being competitive ?

    Sometimes it seems to me that even if M$ will go out tomorrow and open up windows as OSS, people here will come and complain how this is some way bad and evil.

    I am not saying that M$ is jesus reborn but come on,
    put some sense into it.
  • by salesgeek (263995) on Friday June 10, 2005 @02:47PM (#12783183) Homepage
    Some software projects are new ideas. Otheres are implemenatations designed to solve the same problem as another package, but perhaps do it differently or to reduce a high price created by an artificial monopoly. You are not correct though to paint open source as "not innovative".

    Exaples of packages that owe their existance to economics:

    Linux - duplicates function of Unix at lower cost.
    Gimp - provides essential function of Photoshop for web designers and UI designers.
    MySQL - very good database without the bill.

    Examples of packages that innovate and carve out new ideas:

    Gnutella and other P2P software
    Sendmail, fetchmail, NNTPD, Apache, etc...
    PHP, Python, Ruby (sorry if I left out your favorite)
    EMACS and other editors
    Inkscape and other SVG tools
    Zope, Mambo and other CMS / Web application frameworks

    MySQL is "ripping off" established commercial databases now, putting in innovative things like stored procedures, views and UFDs. Does MySQL innovate

    Another open source product does have substantial capital in the creation of SQL... Postgress. Which leads to a simple comment: Open Source drives an incredible ammount of invention in the computer science field and in the software development tools arena - and always has.

    KDE has always looked like Windows. They copied the taskbar, the start menu, the tray notification area and so on.

    Incidentally, KED looks like windows if you want it too. KDE has always been spectacularly flexible in its ability to look like what the user wants. Like all desktops, KDE has borrowed the good and tried ways to do better. Other desktop/window managers have tried to be highly original like enlightment and blackbox.

    Software is as software does.
  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Friday June 10, 2005 @02:54PM (#12783272)

    If MS releases a new product that does most of what both Photoshop and Illustrator can do, and prices it at $550, is that realy unreasonable?

    If MS releases it as a standalone product, if they don't give it away, price it at $50, bundle it with Office, or basically give it away by bundling with OEM contracts then I'd agree. Of course there are still other ways MS can use it to further their monopoly, like having it output only to proprietary formats they control and being the only way of editing graphics in MS's new PDF-killer that they are bundling into Windows. Basically at this point I'm not giving MS any benefit of the doubt. They screw consumers again and again and with very few exceptions always play dirty and leverage their existing monopolies. I'd like to be wrong and I'd like to see competition to Adobe, but at the same time I don't see fair competition coming from MS. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me 147 times, well I guess I should be expecting it by now.

  • by bonk (13623) on Friday June 10, 2005 @03:12PM (#12783486)
    Or maybe she is the beta coordinator, and uses windows xp and has no problems with it. And since windows xp is listed as required for the software, she suggested it to the user who had windows 2000 and was complaining that they can't use this beta software.

    Guess what, I have no problems, crashes or issues with windows xp at home either.

    Not everything is a conspiracy. That being said, that is also probably what they want you to think.

  • by srobert (4099) on Friday June 10, 2005 @03:28PM (#12783690)
    I imagine New Windows systems will come bundled with a free copy of Acrylic. It will be the default image application. Users will save files in it's proprietary format. Then they'll continue to require Windows because Acrylic won't run without it. Most won't realize the export capablity to save in less proprietary formats. They won't be willing to use the GIMP or anything else once they've learned to use Acrylic's interface.
    MS wants to be sure that the GIMP for Windows doesn't catch on because the user could use it without having Windows.
    Isn't this the sort of thing that was declared a violation in MS's anti-trust trial?

  • by TheFlyingGoat (161967) on Friday June 10, 2005 @03:45PM (#12783892) Homepage Journal
    I love Firefox, too, and use it exclusively. However, the functionality was there in Opera. I would consider Opera an innovative product, even though I don't really like using it. Mosiac was definitely innovative.

    Other innovative products: ICQ, The Brain, MacOS, and many others. It may be a semantics argument, but I enjoy sticking to the original meaning of words rather than marketing language.
  • by uhlume (597871) on Friday June 10, 2005 @03:51PM (#12783979) Homepage
    I'm sorry, remind me again where Microsoft claimed their release of a full-featured image editor made them a big innovator in the field? The dubiousness of your point aside, I can't find any backing for your claim.

    I guess if you put words in Microsoft's collective mouth your comment becomes insightful, though.
  • by vertinox (846076) on Friday June 10, 2005 @04:36PM (#12784490)
    "Oh, don't buy a Ford because they didn't invent the car."

    Well... If MS is like Ford, then Ford not only made the car, but they sell the gas and made the roads and also sell the wiper fluids and the radio built in the car (which you can't remove btw but you can put another radio on top of it and hang it off to the side). They didn't make the engine though since you can either choose from two major brands of engines.

    You also can play games with other cars via Ford Online, but watch out for those nasty car viruses you get by reading your mail in the car.
  • by robertjw (728654) on Friday June 10, 2005 @04:49PM (#12784638) Homepage
    Actually pretty funny that he picked the one closest to Microsoft. Lots of people think Ford invented the car, just like they think Microsoft invented Windows.
  • by K8Fan (37875) on Friday June 10, 2005 @06:18PM (#12785492) Journal
    Lots of comments already about how MS isn't innovating.

    Anyone who says that has never been to SIGGRAPH. Microsoft's Graphics Research Group has some of the finest minds of CG in one place. Not sure who's there now, but at one time they had Alvy Ray Smith, Jim Blinn, Andrew Glassner, and a host of other top minds. They routinely produce as many or more papers on basic research as any commercial entity, SGI included. If I recall correctly, they hired Alvy by buying Altamira, which had a program that was doing amazing things with the alpha channel when Photoshop was pretty much useless for compositing.

    Since the market for graphics programs is filled already, MS needs to make this at least as good as Gimp and Photoshop for it to be successful. Since this is only a beta, only time will tell if they've done that.

    As good as? This assumes that one thinks Photoshop and it's open-source clone are all that good in the first place. As far as I'm concerned, Photoshop's popularity has stalled development in the image editing field. People think that the way things are done in Photoshop are the only way things should be done. The Gimp? It's nice to have a "free Photoshop", but like too many open source projects, it doesn't actually innovate, just immitate (yeah, go ahead...mod me down...you know it's true).

    I've been observing paint systems since the Quantel Paintbox and AT&T TIPS, and quite honestly, the rate of innovation in image editing and painting has been in a steady decline since the very first programs produced a flowering of innovations. It's taken new platforms like the Macintosh and the Amiga to produce change, and frankly we've not seen one of those since BeOS.

    I'm happy to see MS try something new. Somebody has to.

"Atomic batteries to power, turbines to speed." -- Robin, The Boy Wonder