September 23, 2007

Quark lets students go commercial

This isn't late-breaking news. Apparently, it happened in July, but I just learned about Quark's decision to allow students who purchase the academic version of QuarkXPress to also use it commercially. That means, contrary to any other academic licensing agreement I know of, students who purchase QuarkXPress at the academic price (about $199 compared to the full price of $799) can legally use that software for educational as well as for-profit projects while they are a student. And after they graduate, former students may continue to use that same academic version for commercial purposes or they may upgrade that academic version to the latest commercial version at the commercial upgrade price--no need to purchase the full commercial version first.

That's big news for students and schools! Quark and Adobe have been slugging it out for years with competing products, QuarkXPress and InDesign (the successor to PageMaker). These are, without a doubt, the standards when it comes to professional page layout design. Any serious design school is going to be using one (or both) of these products, and there have been significant factors influencing purchasing decisions. For example, when Apple made the switch from OS9 to OSX, Quark was very slow (if not resistant) to the change. They took much too long to release an OSX native version of their product. Many users abandoned Quark for their apparent lack of support for the Macintosh. For a while, their academic pricing was much higher than Adobe's as well.

Will this bold licensing change from Quark encourage some InDesign users to switch back? Will Quark influence other other companies to follow their lead? (Are you listening Adobe?) That would be a huge selling point to academic programs. Faculty could tell students that not only are we going to help you develop the knowledge and skills you need to succeed in the industry--we're going to help you acquire the tools to do so and get the most bang for your buck.

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