Quark today will announce free technical support for XPress users, starting in December.

It's a major step for the company, which has charged for online and email technical support until now. It also reflects the company's attempt to become more company-focused as a firm, and benefits from Quark's recruitment of more operatives too man the tech support phone lines.

"We have average waiting times for tech support phone calls down to twenty seconds, now", a Quark source said, adding, "we do expect demand to increase when we announce free support."

"We are serious about our commitment to our customers," said Monique Wirz-Grutter, vice president of operations for Quark. "By providing free technical support to our English-speaking customers, we're offering another tangible and positive benefit of being a Quark customer. We're glad to have the number one selling desktop publishing software - this is a way to thank our customers who made that possible."

As of yesterday, Quark's support pages promised users one free technical support session on the phone, with a series of paid-for telephone support offerings ranging between £29-£179, depending on the amount covered.

From December, registered UK customers of QuarkXPress can call 00800 1787 8275 (toll-free) +41 32 720 14 14 for technical support during standard business hours (Monday - Friday, 8.30am - 17.30pm Central European Time). Email support is available.