When QuarkXPress ruled desktop publishing, it could afford to make users wait...and wait...for each new version to come out. But in the long interim between versions 5.0 and 6.0, Adobe's InDesign had plenty of time to convert QuarkXPress users. Despite the new threat, Quark XPress 6.0 adds only a few new features--some useful, others long overdue. We didn't see the stability issues that many have reported, but we did have some trouble opening legacy XPress files. Its new support for Mac OS X will be crucial to many who've held off updating their OS just for this. Unless you or your business is tied to Quark, however, InDesign's progressive features and integration with Photoshop, Illustrator, and InCopy could be worth checking out.
Installing QuarkXPress 6.0 takes a while, as the program places thousands of small files onto your hard drive. Unfortunately, this version doesn't install Quark's traditional sample layouts, which were great for demonstrating the application's capabilities.
Though QuarkXPress 6.0 no longer requires the hardware dongle that longtime users will remember, you'll still be asked to jump through some registration hoops. Unlike Adobe InDesign, QuarkXPress 6.0 ties itself to one specific machine; you can't even install it on a desktop and your laptop for working on the road. In addition, the North American version works only on English-language machines; international customers must purchase the Passport version, which is hideously expensive, ranging in price from U.S. $1,500 to $2,000.
An Aqua flavor and extra palettes, but otherwise longtime users will recognize most of the XPress interface right off. Note the layout tabs at the bottom.
Once XPress 6.0 is running, longtime users might be asking what the fuss is all about. The interface is strikingly familiar, with floating palettes (new to those who haven't upgraded since version 3.0). The palettes still don't dock; otherwise, the regular tools and menu items are where you expect them to be, with the few new tools fitting in as if they had always been there.
If you're one of the many who skipped version 5.0 because it lacked OS X support, you'll find plenty of new tools to get used to--most of which showed up then and are simply reprised in version 6.0. Version 5.0 introduced rudimentary Web tools with XML support, table editing, layers, context-sensitive pop-up menus, and a few other tweaks.