Adobe Launches Free Edition Of Photoshop

Dennis Faas's picture

Adobe has launched a free online version of its popular Photoshop image editing software, combining it with an online picture storage service.

Photoshop Express includes basic features such as airbrushing, red-eye reduction and re-sizing, along with some fancy effects that turn pictures into sketches or distort them for comic effect. Users also get two gigabytes of online storage, and images can be shared via on-line galleries or integrated with social networking sites such as Facebook.

It seems the plan is to introduce Photoshop to new users in the hope of them buying an upgrade to Photoshop Elements, their entry-level program which retails for $99.99.

At the moment, Photoshop Express is only officially intended for download in the US. Overseas users can download the software, though Adobe says it may be slow to get hold of. It works on Internet Explorer, Firefox or Safari and requires Flash Player 9. (Source:

Early reviews suggest the editing software is particularly easy to use, though uploading images can be slow and unreliable. The current edition is a beta release meaning there may still be some bugs. Adobe will be surveying users to try to identify possible improvements for a later 'final' release. (Source:

Adobe's service will be seen as a rival to Google, which has its own free image editing software, named Picasa.

Web based software, which was once mainly restricted to email services such as Hotmail and Gmail, is becoming increasingly popular: Google offers everything from a calendar organizer to a word processor. Such software is particularly useful for people who use multiple computers (such as business travellers), and there's usually no need to download updates whenever the it's improved.

It's surprising Adobe has taken so long to target casual computer users in this way. They'll certainly stand a good chance of attracting new users if the editing and storage services integrate smoothly. But the company will probably still consider its main market to be professionals willing to pay large sums for the full editions of Photoshop, which can cost as much as $999.

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