QuarkXPress 6 for Mac OS X will start shipping next week in the US. Major XPress distributor XChange, however, has announced that the OS X-native-only version will ship in the UK on July 31. The international QuarkXPress Passport version always ships weeks or months after the initial US version.

Apple's US online store is already taking orders for XPress 6 at $899 plus local taxes. The UK full-version price will be £1,095, but street prices are expected to match Apple's US pricing. Apple's UK online store does not yet mention the new version. See later in this article for UK upgrade pricing.

New features QuarkXPress 6, still the market-leading desktop-layout software, introduces new features such as project files, collections of layouts that can vary in media type, size and orientation. Stylesheets, colours, hyphenation settings, lists and other properties can be shared between layouts.

Synchronized Text lets users share content between layouts in a project. Text edited in one location is changed elsewhere in the project simultaneously. Other new features include full-resolution preview and multiple undo.

QuarkXPress 6 also introduces new print output features, such as support for PostScript Level 3 functions including DeviceN color. PDF creation is integrated into QuarkXPress as well. XML tagging is now more intuitive, and the new version includes an industry-standard XML parser with enhanced error handling.

Apple and Quark at peace The lack of an X-native version of XPress has been claimed by Apple as a stumbling block for OS X migration by the professional design and DTP markets.

Apple senior vice president of worldwide product marketing Phil Schiller told MacCentral that the announcement is evidence of "a rekindling of the relationship" betweeen Quark and Apple, which he admitted has had its rocky moments in recent years.

"This is one of the biggest, most important applications in the creative space," said Schiller. "There are now more than 6,000 apps running on Mac OS X, but this was the last big one."

Susan Friedman, vice president of corporate business development for Quark, also noted her company's strong desire to continue working with Apple. "We're going to work on a lot of projects in the future," she said.

Friedman noted that Quark will also bring its Quark Publishing System (QPS) to OS X. Quark vice president of R&D Kamar Aulakh painted in broad strokes Quark's plan to bring QPS to Mac OS X - the company plans to make key components available during the next calendar quarter, with other components available by the first quarter of next year, including QPS's Server component.

Friedman noted that Quark already has transition teams in place to help the company's customers switch. And many third-party developers are already ready to go with OS X, as well, according to Aulakh.

"We published our XTension APIs, and XTension developers have had them for a while," said Aulakh. "Some have been more proactive than others. We have more than 25 developers ready to ship out OS X-ready XTensions when QuarkXPress 6 for Mac OS X ships, and hundreds of other XTensions that are in process."

UK pricing A full version of XPress 6 will cost £1,095; but street prices are expected to be lower. XChange international is offering customers that pre-order upgrades a special discount with up to 15 per cent off the normal upgrade price. Special pricing for XPress 6 upgrades is only valid until the 15th July 2003

Upgrades from version 5 will cost £199; special price £169. From version 4, £299; pre-order, £269. From version 3, £399; pre-order, £369.