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Macromedia Appeals to Graphic Artists with FreeHand 10

In the wake of Apple's Mac OS X launch, Macromedia Inc. Monday unveiled the latest version of its software kit for graphic designers, which boasts compatibility with the much-ballyhooed new operating system.

Macromedia's FreeHand 10 features new tools, productivity enhancements, tight integration with Macromedia Flash 5, the Macromedia User Interface, and the ability to publish to both print and the Web. FreeHand 10 will be launched on Macintosh and Windows platforms, including Mac OS X.

FreeHand 10 was created to help graphic artists whip up illustrations, print projects and Web site storyboards. FreeHand 10 offers increased productivity through a symbol library for better asset management and the ability to select print areas from large projects. The product also features the customizable Macromedia user interface that is now standard across its Web authoring product line.

Macromedia is also banking on the notion that Web designers will enjoy the bundling of FreeHand 10 and Macromedia Flash. The retooled user interface also includes some common Macromedia Flash features such as a Macromedia Flash Navigation Panel for applying links or actions.

Macromedia FreeHand 10 is expected to ship in May for $399.

Clent Richardson, Apple's vice president of Worldwide Developer Relations, noted that the Mac OS 10 was created with two- and three-dimensional capabilities with the product offerings of such companies as Macromedia, Adobe and Corel in mind.

"We are thrilled with Macromedia's release of FreeHand 10, and look forward to seeing more of Macromedia's outstanding graphics and Web building solutions on Mac OS X," Richardson said.

Macromedia could use a nice buzz with the Freehand 10 launch, and making it available for the Mac OS 10 should certainly help. In initiating coverage on Macromedia and chief rival Adobe, investment firm Dain Rauscher Wessels said Adobe is better positioned to weather the economic storm than Macromedia because it has a deep bench of non-Web legacy products.

"We expect the contribution from legacy print products, such as Acrobat, Illustrator and PageMaker to mitigate the impact of the dot-com shakeout and declining Web publishing expenditures," the investment firm said, noting that Adobe will also benefit from revenues incurred from a higher-than-expected upgrade rate for recent and future releases.

Such is not the case, Dain Rauscher Wessels said, for Macromedia. The company said Macromedia has seen light upgrades and said overall demand for software packages and curbs in IT spending will slow the software maker's growth over the next few quarters.

Adobe's stock has more than doubled up Macromedia's , trading at $34.77 to its rival's $15 price tag Monday.



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