Despite the 70 new features, users of Adobe's "next-generation" page-layout program InDesign are up in arms that the company is charging £59 for the upgrade to version 1.5. Furious Adobe customers accuse the company of penalizing early adopters, on which InDesign's future depends. While sympathising with the users, an Adobe spokesman tells Macworld that he believes the complaints will die down when people start using the updated version.

Adobe alienation On the InDesign user forum, anger is mounting.

"As a long-time Adobe user, with Photoshop, and GoLive, and an early InDesign adopter, I was outraged to see Adobe is charging for its first upgrade to the product," says Philip Trauring. "It's not like v1.0 was bug-free and stable. I, along with many others, took some things on faith - like the fact that Adobe would fix the problems in the first version of InDesign. Now it's charging us for being early adopters. I don't understand how it thinks that this is a good idea."

"What I'm interested in is having a stable, usable piece of software - not more doo-dads to hog more memory and disk space, and that will no doubt come with its own set of bugs," writes another user on the forum. "I only purchased InDesign a month ago and now I'm expected to shell out another $99 (£59 in UK) per user to fix all the problems. I'm very disappointed to see that Adobe has decided to stoop to such low tactics. I'm sure the makers of QuarkXPress are smiling now," he adds.

Mark Van Slyke, who works at an Adobe Authorized service bureau, is so outraged that he is now recommending that customers "stay away from InDesign".

Macworld reader Kevin Panton is also shocked at Adobe's upgrade charge: "While Steve Jobs and Apple have been recent targets for accusations of customer alienation, I think another company is stepping into the limelight. Adobe has announced a 1.5 'upgrade' to a product that doesn't even work properly. Us registered users get to pay £59 for the privilege!".

Adobe defends charge Addressing user anger, John Cunningham, European business development manager for Adobe, admitted he had, “sympathy” for their complaints, but said: “A lot of people see v1.5 as an update rather than a major upgrade, but with over 70 new features, v1.5 offers a lot for the money.”

“Some of the additions go way beyond competing highly priced products. If I was an early adopter of InDesign 1.0 last year, I paid £190 during the special offer period. Now for a total cost of £246, I have a superior product that still costs less than the competition. In terms of relative value it holds its own.”

“It is interesting to hear what problems people have encountered with InDesign 1.0. There are differences in workflow - InDesign likes native Photoshop files more than TIFFS, for instance. We do have a team to advise people on InDesign, and we are delivering results to our users.”

Not all negative Other early InDesign users don't mind the charge. Ex-PageMaker user, Dave Saunders defends the charge as representing better value than he got from PageMaker: "InDesign 1.5 has more new stuff in it than a PageMaker user has seen in a long, long time." "It's painful to witness all this hand wringing and wailing," he adds, although he does point out that "PageMaker 6.5 was followed by a bug-fixing free update".

Frank J Sinkavich agrees: "Considering what I paid for InDesign at the introductory price, including the now upgrade to v1.5, I'm still not paying the full price for the program if I were to purchase it now for the first time."

Bug bash "Reading the new features looks like Adobe has added a lot of useful tools and features to this upgrade. I hope that it has also addressed some of the bugs that were discovered in v1.0," adds Sinkavich.

Adobe’s John Cunningham observes: “Maybe a lot of the complaints are coming from people who have just seen the price, and not yet looked at the features first-hand. It has only been six months since version 1.0, but the architecture of InDesign enables us to develop new features in so much less time.”

“People have always paid for upgrades,” he concludes.