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Adobe today launched a free version of Photoshop online.

Called Photoshop Express, the software has many of the basic functions of its paid-for cousin. Users will be able to upload photos to the Photoshop Express site, edit them and then store them online.

Features include airbrushing (particularly useful for celebrity models), red-eye elimination for those worn-out party moments (particularly useful for celebrity models) and re-sizing (particularly useful for celebrity models).

Adobe's plan is to get the Photoshop brand out to people who otherwise wouldn't have heard of it, and to provide opportunities to upgrade those people to a paid-for product, such as Photoshop Elements. A subscription version of Express is thought to be in the pipeline.

The launch of Express takes Adobe into competition with Google, which offers a limited photo editing tool called Picasa. It's Adobe's second online venture, following the release of the online video editing and mash-up tool Adobe Premiere Express last year.

Photoshop Express is intended for download only in the US to start with. It is available in Europe but Adobe has warned that download speeds could be slow.

Users need IE, Firefox or Safari plus Flash Player 9.

The software is based on Flex, Adobe's open source framework for building internet applications. It's been released in beta, so expect a version which works properly soon. ®

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