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GoLive going away?

The proposed merger of Adobe and Macromedia has stirred some anxiety in the developer community, which a new report says is justified.

While Adobe is keeping mum on the fate of individual software titles, saying a product roadmap won't be drawn until (unless) the acquisition closes, one industry analyst published some prognostications on which product teams at both companies should be polishing their resumes, and what applications developers should consider learning to live without.

"Because the FTC will likely require that Adobe divest its GoLive application to another the medium term, the GoLive customer, primarily a designer familiar with the Adobe UI, should strongly consider using Dreamweaver as their Web authoring application," wrote NPD Techworld analyst Chris Swenson in a May 4 report. "While future versions of GoLive will no doubt still be appealing to designers, the eventual integration of Dreamweaver with other Adobe programs, not to mention DreamweaverÂ’s inclusion in future versions of Creative Suite, will entice many users to make the switch."

Also heading for divestment, in NPD's opinion: Macromedia's Fireworks title, an image-editing application meant to compete with Photoshop, and FreeHand, meant to compete with Adobe Illustrator.

"For most customers, the pain of transition will be minimal," Swenson wrote. "We expect Adobe to provide customers with road maps, education materials, migration tools, and support for existing keyboard shortcuts in order to help its customers minimize any loss of productivity during the transition. However, given the likelihood of an FTC mandate, we believe that customers using GoLive, Fireworks, or FreeHand should start developing their migration plans in the medium term."

Swenson based his reasoning about the FTC's likely course of action on the commission's rulings when Adobe acquired Aldus in 1994.

He also noted a chance that the government would thwart the Macromedia acquisition altogether, citing similarities in Microsoft's blocked acquisition of Intuit in 1995. But he called that chance "small."

"The most compelling reason to let Adobe enjoy additional 'monopoly rents,' would be to allow the company to compete more effectively against Microsoft," Swenson wrote. "Currently, the two companies compete at the margins. But if the acquisition were approved, Adobe would have an application platform that over the long term could allow it to compete against Microsoft in the rich client development space, a Web conferencing solution that could go head-to-head for enterprise deals against Microsoft Office Live Meeting, and a platform for deploying rich media and applications on mobile phones that could slow Microsoft's ascent in the mobile world. Regulatory approval would, in effect, allow a more viable competitor to exist in these broader markets."

So is Adobe buying Macromedia to keep pace with Microsoft? It's an intriguing argument.