Mac OS X and Quark: Trouble for DTP?

The next version of XPress will be Mac OS X only, forcing the hand of pro publishers reluctant to switch platforms.

The publishing industry built atop Mac technology is bound for flux, as Apple Computer Inc., of Cupertino, Calif., and page-layout market leader Quark Inc., of Denver, both prepare to pull the plug on the classic Mac OS and focus exclusively on Mac OS X.

While Apples September announcement that as of January, new Macs will only boot into Mac OS X garnered much attention from the Mac community, Quarks simultaneous bombshell went almost unnoticed: During a session at Seybold Seminars in San Francisco, James Therrien, manager of professional services at Quark, acknowledged that the next major version of QuarkXPress will run only on Mac OS X and Windows—not Mac OS 9.

These twin moves will alter two decades worth of publishing tradition—and investment. Starting in the mid-80s, Apples, Adobe Systems and Quarks offerings have shaped the standards of professional publishing: The Macintosh platform remains the global computing environment of choice for the industry, and QuarkXPress has dominated print publishing for more than 15 years.

Now, that venerable status quo is headed for a shake-up. Apple has been working hard to make Mac OS X into a viable, industrial-strength operating system and to convince key third-party developers to turn their attention away from earlier versions of the Mac OS.

Developer support for Mac OS X has been impressive: By now, practically all major application packages are available in a Mac OS X-native version.

But there remains one notable exception in Apples core publishing market: QuarkXPress. While top vendors such as Adobe Systems have brought their software in line with Mac OS Xs Carbon APIs (including InDesign, Adobes competing DTP package), Quark earlier this year released XPress 5.0 for Mac OS 9 only.

Although the move raised a few eyebrows among professional publishers, it fit with the industrys generally conservative approach to platform migration.

The end of dual booting on new Macs will force users and developers—Quark foremost among them—to pick up the pace considerably. Quark has stated repeatedly that it is hard at work on the next version of XPress, and insiders report that Apple is lending Quark development resources to speed things up.