Microsoft 'Acrylic' Takes On Photoshop

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Microsoft 'Acrylic' Takes On Photoshop

In hopes of leveling the playing field with Adobe, Microsoft on Friday released a beta of Acrylic, a professional graphics creation tool. The program is based on Expression, which the company acquired the rights to through its 2003 purchase of Hong Kong company Creature House.

Microsoft describes Acrylic as the "codename for an innovative illustration, painting and graphics tool that provides exciting creative capabilities for designers working in print, web, video, and interactive media."

The beta version of the software will work for 180 days, and the company would like early adopters to provide feedback through online forums set up for the software.

It is unclear how Acrylic will play into Microsoft's future plans. The Windows operating system already includes image-editing capabilities -- however rudimentary -- through Microsoft Paint.

The software is able to both open and export to Adobe's Photoshop PSD and Acrobat PDF formats, so it is clear that the company intends to offer Acrylic as an alternative to Photoshop, likely at a lower cost.

Acrylic still has some issues, Microsoft admitted, such as performance and speed. The company said it was working on ways to optimize the code to help the software run faster.

Users in Microsoft's forums, however, were a little more critical.

"This preview just shows me an unpolished, poorly laid out graphics editor that acts more like a glorified "Paint" rather than any type of competition to Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro," one user wrote.

But Microsoft says it is listening to the feedback, good and bad. "What people say here is going to shape the Acrylic program. So please don't expect too much in the beginning or be too quick to give up on us," said an Acrylic beta coordinator named Annie. "Your input could have a big impact on the program."

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