Quark has released QuarkXPress 6.5, its free upgrade for registered users of XPress 6.

The upgrade is described by the company as, "offering a shift in thinking at Quark by offering expanded power, versatility and the creative possibilities of XPress - at no cost."

XPress 6.5 is a highly significant upgrade. It offers new features, as well as stability improvements. Not least of the new features is QuarkVista, an image manipulation XTension that lets users commit many common image editing operations non-destructively from within XPress itself.

QuarkXpress 6.5 update

In addition to standard image adjustments such as colour balance, levels, brightness, and contrast, QuarkVista lets users apply a variety of common filters to images used in a QuarkXPress layout.

Users can also import native Adobe Photoshop documents (PSD files) into XPress. Once imported, image layers can be switched on and off, opacities and blend methods can be modified, channels can be assigned to print as spot colours, and clipping paths can be selected.

The upgrade also offers QuarkXClusive, a module that lets businesses output customized, database-driven documents on HP Indigo presses. It also offers support for Citrix application development software, which means site administrators can set-up site-wide license administration systems.

Additional improvements in this release include: support for guides on pasteboards on master pages; enhancements to XPress' new Tables function, such as grouping; and the ability to set bleed settings in print styles.

The free update also includes software and fonts, including a selection of design templates from Stock Layouts and demo versions of Creo Tokens software and Insider Font Agent Pro.

In collaboration with Linotype, QuarkXPress 6.5 also offers a way to purchase fonts used in a project but not owned by the customer. Quark users also get a free Linotype font bundle worth $1,000.

XPress 6.5 will be available from Quark as a download. Customers can also request an upgrade CD from customer services.

Macworld UK is hosting the second-ever UK Macworld Conference at MacExpo, featuring a rare head-to-head application shoot-out between XPress and InDesign.