Adobe accused on software monopoly

The growing battle between Apple and Adobe and the possibilities of extended lawsuits between the two companies has re-invigorated a 5,000-strong group of graphic designers in their fight against Adobe and its shelving of the popular FreeHand vector illustration program.

Free FreeHand is a growing group of designers who have banded together to try to protect the software they use for their livelihood, FreeHand, from extinction due to Adobe’s tactics.

FreeHand is a rival to Adobe Illustrator, but has been owned by Adobe since 2005, and has not been updated since.

“With Adobe’s CS5 just released and millions of Illustrator users, why does Adobe care to suppress FreeHand? A niche user audience of an estimated 20- or 30,000 designers should not be of concern to a corporation like Adobe,” group spokesperson Christine Stepherson told PC Advisor.

“Letters and more than 1,000 postcards have fallen on deaf ears at Adobe. The request has been to make upgrades or release FreeHand to the open-source community. But after Adobe’s ten-year strategy to shut down its main competition, many feel that the likelihood is slim.”The US Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission are rumoured to be discussing starting an antitrust inquiry into Apple’s policy of requiring iPhone and iPad developers to use only Apple’s programming tools.

Stepherson references Adobe’s possible legal action when she asks whether “Adobe has turned the mirror on its own practices”.

While Free Freehand understands that Adobe is a private company that decides where to invest its R&D, if updates can’t be made to make the product useable for the future, the FreeHand community believes Adobe should release the product to an open-source community.

The group has not ruled out legal action as a means of persuading Adobe of its commitment to this cause.

“Corporations that buy and bury the products of others, just because they are unable to produce a better product, do harm to our society. Not only do they act unethically, they also obstruct progress in this country all in the name of corporate profits!” states the group on its website.

FreeHand is a widely used vector-design application that is an essential tool of professional studios and graphic designers. It is used in the graphic design, clothing and textile design, illustration, education, and cartography industries. Like its rival Adobe Illustrator it is a vector software application that allows infinitely scalable shapes and effects.

FreeHand was created by Altsys and licensed to Aldus, which released versions 1 to 4. When Aldus merged with Adobe its future was deemed at risk because of Adobe’s rival Illustrator vector program.

Following intervention by the Federal Trade Commission to prevent a purchase due to anti-competitive characteristics Adobe was forced to return FreeHand to Altsys soon after the merger.

Altsys was then bought by Macromedia, which released FreeHand versions 5 to 10 and 11/MX. In an ironic and possibly fatal twist Adobe acquired Macromedia in 2005, returning FreeHand to the home of Illustrator.

FreeHand “basically hasn’t been updated in eight years”, complains the Free FreeHand group.

Without updates, FreeHand is no longer supported by newer technology, forcing FreeHand designers to run outdated operating systems on old hardware or switch to Adobe’s flagship product, Illustrator.

Free FreeHand expects the software to be completely unusable on pending operating systems sometime in the next five years, if not earlier.

On its FreeHand product page Adobe states that: “No updates to FreeHand have been made for over four years, and Adobe has no plans to initiate development to add new features or to support Intel-based Macs and Windows Vista.

“To support customer workflows, we will continue to sell FreeHand and offer technical and customer support in accordance with our policies. While we recognize FreeHand has a loyal customer base, we encourage users to migrate to the new Adobe Illustrator CS4 software which supports both PowerPC and Intel-based Macs and Microsoft Windows XP and Windows Vista.”

Would you recommend this article?


Thanks for taking the time to let us know what you think of this article!
We'd love to hear your opinion about this or any other story you read in our publication.

Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

Featured Download

Related Tech News

Featured Tech Jobs


CDN in your inbox

CDN delivers a critical analysis of the competitive landscape detailing both the challenges and opportunities facing solution providers. CDN's email newsletter details the most important news and commentary from the channel.