ScanSoft has reaffirmed its commitment to the Mac market with the introduction of OmniPage Pro X for Mac OS X.

This Carbonized release is the company's first update for the Mac in three years. Product marketing manager Chris Strammiello said: "The Mac market has developed in recent years. For us to introduce a new version of our industry-standard optical character-recognition software to Apple's next-generation OS was a no-brainer. This release shows a recommitment to the Mac for us."

ScanSoft has over eight million users worldwide. This release is nearly 50 per cent more accurate than competitor's offerings, and 40 per cent more than previous versions of the software, claimed Strammiello. Partially, this improved accuracy is provided by the utilization of two OCR technologies working in tandem within the product, and partially due to many advances in the product itself, he said.

Direct from PDF The release offers many new functions, including the capacity to scan PDF documents, and transfer scans to a variety of document formats, such as Microsoft Word. This means static PDF files can be transformed into editable documents. Likewise, editable documents can be transformed into PDF documents. Strammiello explained: "PDF is an open standard, we can develop with it too."

Other features include the capacity to make the computer read back scanned documents – boosting accessibility to content for some – and a choice of step-by-step, auto and user-controlled usage modes. Documents can be zoned (manually or automatically), which means that the OCR technologies can transport scanned content into other applications or from paper with no loss in formatting, according to ScanSoft.

Such support also lets the application recognize spreadsheets and tables, and create identical-looking Web pages.

OmniPage Pro X for Mac can scan directly from Microsoft programs, including Mac Office v.X.

Strammiello also discussed the dearth of available scanner drivers for Mac OS X. He said: "Some companies, such as Agfa, have introduced Mac OS X scanner drivers, but these often lack functionality.

"Manufacturers are waiting for the TWAIN governing body, which oversees standards for scanner drivers. TWAIN has issued no standard yet for OCR on Mac OS X. We are in regular contact with them. They keep reassuring us such a standard is coming soon, but it hasn't appeared yet."

In the meantime, ScanSoft's stop-gap solution is to let users scan in Mac OS 9, Mac OS X's Classic environment, and subsequently perform editing and optical-character-recognition operations in Mac OS X.

In future, the company may introduce more XML-based features to the product, Strammiello revealed.

OmniPage Pro X for Mac costs $149, no UK price is available yet.

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