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Adobe Systems is the latest boxed-product vendor to put its software online and embrace the ads-based revenue model.

Adobe will launch a free version of its expensive Photoshop photo manipulation software online in the next six months, while hoping to derive income from the internet advertising boom. The service will use an enhanced version of Adobe Remix video edition currently available through the Photobucket site.

Adobe is following Microsoft in trying to build a viable online business. Having acknowledged it was caught napping, Microsoft is slowly rolling out a mixed and - at times confused - bag of free, subscription and ads-funded online services driven by search.

Adobe's chief executive Bruce Chizen billed online Photoshop as an attempt to gain an edge on Google in online content creation. The goal appears to be to tap a growing community of new content creators, while also maintaining its offline business by bouncing power users up to full editions of Photoshop.

Google has begun offering simple website creation tools that are spiced up with storage and desktop applications through Google Apps for Your Domain.

Adobe also faces a challenge from Microsoft, which is courting Adobe ColdFusion developers through the Expression website and content creation suite.

Adobe's approach to seeding the market until now has been through Photoshop Elements, a cut-down version of the full Photoshop suite that can run to $800. Photoshop Elements can be purchased for less than $100 and also ships with some PC and Mac peripherals, such as scanners.

Free, online Photoshop comes as Adobe also seeks to remain relevant to the needs of web and open source developers. Adobe last November released code for its ubiquitous Flash media player to the Mozilla Foundation, for the community to help improve interoperability with Firefox. ®

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