Quark joins the Mac OS X waiting game

There's a new Mac OS? Sure. Whenever...

Quark has became the latest Mac kingmaker to opt for the comfort of the balance sheet over the pain of Steve Jobs' whiplash.

The DTP stalwart will release its long awaited version QuakrXPress 5 on classic Mac, rather than risk a simultaneous release of both MacOS 9 and Mac OS X versions.

"Going back to create a Carbonised version would have put us way behind schedule," Quark's Glen Turpin told Macworld UK in a preview yesterday.

A Mac OS X version is in the works, but an OS X release now would compromise functionality, said Turpin.

In the past week, Adobe has committed to releasing InDesign and Illustrator for Mac OS X, without exactly saying when, and made plain that it would only ship Mac OS X products when it was good and ready.

Turpin also offered one of those awful hostages to fortune by promising that Quark 5 would be 'bug free'. Bookmark this page now, we suggest, and we'll see you in six months.

Ever since Apple promised a bell curve of OS X ISV adoption reaching its... well... bell-end by the autumn, ISVs statements have been studied with forensic scrutiny.

Both Adobe and Quark are crucial ISVs in Apple's publishing business, and both are being viewed as barometers of the uptake of Apple's new and radically different, Unix-based OS.

Which is a crude and imprecise instrument, we reckon. For what it's worth, the ludicrous reports in the tabloids are wildly misplaced, and Quark and Adobe are right on the money in deferring their Mac OS X releases for the future.

Although us Mac consumers may swap our favoured apps with the gay promiscuity of characters in La Ronde (and we confess to having almost completely succumbed to OS X's mail app, here), professional users twitch to a different clock. Most Quark and Photoshop pros we know would sooner lose a kidney than endure the pain of rote-learning an alternative application, and equally from the demand side, publishers depend heavily on a Quark and Photoshop literate pool of hirees.

The upshot is that both Quark and Adobe know they can move platforms in their own sweet time. Meanwhile, the consumer success of OS X will be judged by how many new users OS X's glitz can attract, or how many users its scariness or, for now anyway, its downright sluggishess will repel. Either way, it's going to be a ball to watch. ®

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