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Analyst sights new Photoshop release

Updated versions of Photoshop and other key Adobe applications should be out by the end of the year, according to an analyst report.

Adobe Systems is likely to release new versions of Photoshop and other key applications by the end of this year, according to an analyst report released Monday.

Gene Munster of investment bank USB Piper Jaffrey upgraded his rating on Adobe from "outperform" to "strong buy," based partly on expectations that the software maker will deliver a new version of its premiere product--the Photoshop image editing and graphics program--within the next four months.

"Over the last several days, we have spoken with six Photoshop certified trainers regarding timing of the Photoshop 8.0...release," Munster wrote. "All six of the trainers we have spoken with expect shipment between November and December. We believe the product will ship late in Adobe's (fourth quarter)."

The current edition of Photoshop--version 7--was released more than a year ago and was considered a major update, because it included sophisticated new editing tools and support for Apple Computer's OS X operating system.

Several Web sites devoted to rumors about upcoming Mac-related products published screenshots of the beta, or test, version of Photoshop 8 last month. However, they quickly removed them, under pressure from Adobe. Comments from testers indicate that new features include a revamped file browser and overhauled tools for using layers to alter images.

Munster wrote that he expects other Adobe products that target graphics and publishing professionals, such as Illustrator and InDesign, will be updated around the same time as Photoshop. Web retailer Amazon.com lists an instructional guide to Illustrator 11, which would be the next version, as set for release in mid-October.

"Historically, Photoshop upgrades have been a catalyst for sales of Illustrator and InDesign," Munster wrote. "We believe that to optimize the upgrades of Illustrator and InDesign, Photoshop should ship in the same general time period."

Adobe, based in San Jose, Calif., recently has focused its sales efforts on pitching "collection" packages that combine tools commonly used by its core audience of creative professionals.