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The Evil Empire (Microsoft) is fighting back. Or maybe it is trying to take over the world.

Either way, and probably the latter, it is working on a clone of Photoshop.

Naturally enough Microsoft didn't develop it by itself. It simply gobbled up the company which had.

You can see for yourself by downloading a beta version of Acrylic, as it is known, from www. microsoft. com/ products/expression.

There is some stupid tosh about having to sign up for a Microsoft Passport, a scheme which a while ago the Evil Empire tried to impose on all of us with a signal lack of success. My advice is to only sign up for the limited account, which sidesteps the requirement to acquire a Hotmail email address. That's as in 'the second prize is two Hotmail addresses'!

But don't get too attached to it. Microsoft is no charity and will charge you as hard as it thinks it can for the full version of Acrylic - which you will have helped develop without a fee. We have all seen with Autodesk what happens when one company dominates a market.

Though, come to think of it, complacent Quark recently got dropped by the graphics community when InDesign came of age.

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