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Quark prepares to join OS X camp

The software maker provides some details on the new version of QuarkXPress, but offers no release date.

Software maker Quark offered some details Tuesday on the next version of its QuarkXPress publishing program, a key holdout in supporting Apple's Mac OS X operating system.

QuarkXPress 6 will run on Mac OS X, Quark spokesman Glenn Turpin confirmed, and is now in the testing stages. He said the company has not set a release date or price for the software, however.

"We're in the home stretch, but it depends on the results of that testing," Turpin said. "The most important thing for us is to ensure the quality is there--that's how we determine the ship date."

Quark on Tuesday began posting about QuarkXPress 6 on its Web site. The initial release includes information on OS X compatibility, user interface refinements and expanded "undo" options. "This is the first glimpse--we'll be announcing more information every couple of weeks," Turpin said.

QuarkXPress, used by magazines, newspapers and other publications to design and lay out pages, is a key application for Apple's core audience of creative professionals. Quark has been the most notable holdout in making the switch to Mac OS X, however, despite growing pressure from customers and competitors.

Adobe Systems introduced an OS X-native version of its rival InDesign application more than a year ago, but has yet to make a significant dent in Quark's market share.

Analysts have identified Quark's long wait to embrace OS X as a key factor in dampening adoption of the operating system and new high-end Apple hardware.

Roger Kay, an analyst for research firm IDC, said Quark's delay has been an irritant for Apple. "More than anything else, it's psychological," he said. "If content creation professionals represent (Apple's) last bastion, their most penetrated and loyal market...not having the key application support OS X really hurts their credibility.

"I think everybody's going to heave a sigh of relief when this thing comes out, and they can say, 'Welcome to the OS X community,'" Kay added.