McIlroy–HDIA – New Name, New Concerns

Industry Observations
The general observation on computer-to-plate is that the technology is maturing much more rapidly than anticipated. Platesetters are faster and cheaper and offer better quality than ever before. Server-enabled workflows are fast improving.

Kenichi Shimazu, head of R&D for the Kodak/Polychrome joint venture, offered a glimpse of simultaneous developments in plate technology that promise users a wide range of imaging options. We also learned that Kodak/Polychrome had reached an agreement with International Paper to acquire Horsell Anitec, further solidifying this supplier’s dominant role in the industry.

Most people think of preflight as a “solved” problem for the graphic arts, but it still generates a lot of conversation at a conference like this one. The view from the HDIA is that the industry has made Markzware’s FLIGHTCHECK software the preflight standard. The loser to date is Extensis’ Preflight Pro. Not one hand was raised when asked if the software is in use. I think that the discrepancy in usage has more to do with the familiar “first-to-market” software syndrome than Preflight Pro’s limitations. Extensis has a major task ahead trying to dislodge the market leader.

When we asked attendees whether they were receiving more Windows files than a year ago, many hands were raised high. We didn’t try to pin down numbers, but the impression received was that Microsoft is encroaching on Apple’s stronghold far more effectively than most observers have guessed.

Expert Presentations
Significantly, one conference keynote address was from Gary Starkweather, now an employee of Microsoft. Starkweather is an industry legend, who holds more than 30 patents, and is credited as the inventor of the laser printer (while working at Xerox PARC).

He spent nearly a decade at Apple, but is now one of numerous high-level Apple employees who has been lured to Redmond, WA, where he holds the position of imaging architect for the Windows NT platform. Starkweather reviewed the numerous features of NT that promise to make it a strong contender for professional publishing in its 5.0 release.

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