Expression Design is the latest in a string of graphics programs from Microsoft; maybe this one will last longer than Picture It! or PhotoDraw. It's based on a freeware program Microsoft bought from a developer called Creature House... but of course they discontinued the Mac version. It's available only for Windows XP or Vista, as part of the complete Expression package.
high quality high quality Adobe Photoshop is the image-editing software that others are measured against, and much of the graphic-design industry runs on it. That's not to say that it's the best at everything, but if you can afford it, and you need a complete feature set, it's probably worth it. For those on a budget, PhotoShop Elements leaves out some of the high-end features for a lot less money. For Windows and Mac OS. my choice Windows Mac OS
close match high quality high quality CorelDRAW is one of the classic graphics toolsets. It began as a vector-based drawing program, and is now the centerpiece of a suite that includes tools for working with photos and bitmapped graphics. Corel has also picked up a handful of other graphics apps, including Paint Shop Pro (a long-standing "budget" alternative to Photoshop), and Photo Impact (a tool designed specially for web graphics), and Painter (for simulating natural media, such as various paints, charcoals, pencils). All are available for Windows; Painter is also for Mac. Windows
close match high quality challenge MS Adobe Fireworks has some of the same ideas that Expression Design is trying to implement, combining object-based (vector) drawing with (bit-mapped) painting by simultaneously keeping track of the vectors, but displaying the bit-mapped results on screen. It's particularly well-suited to producing graphics for the web (one of Macromedia's general areas of strength). For Windows and Mac OS. my choice Windows Mac OS
close match high quality low price challenge MS Draw is a good full-featured choice for companies looking for a consistent set of programs (including spreadsheet, presentation, drawing, and more) to run on different kinds of computers, and save money at the same time. It runs on Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, or Sun Solaris and stores its documents in XML, the fully-open data storage format. It's available in two flavours: OpenOffice, the free open-source version, and Sun StarOffice, which includes some additional features and corporate support at a fairly low price. my choice Windows Mac Unix-like OS/2
high quality low price high quality The GIMP's name is... unfortunate, but chalk that up to geeks with a fondness for silly acronyms; the program is anything but "crippled". GIMP is an abbreviation for the GNU Image Manipulation Program. The user interface is a little different from what you might be used to, but it's greatly improved in version 2, so if you hear horror stories about it, they might not apply anymore. It's the premiere graphics tool for Unix-like systems, and is now fully supported for Windows and Mac OS X (using X11), with independent ports (lagging behind a bit) for BeOS and OS/2. my choice Unix-like Windows Mac OS BeOS OS/2
close match high quality challenge MS ACDSee Canvas supports vector, bit-mapped, and text elements in the same image, and even adds page-layout and web-page capabilities. Its "sprite" technology lets you apply special-effect filters to both kinds of graphic elements. Available for Windows. Windows
close match high quality low price Ability Photopaint is available as part of a suite similar to MS Office (except much less expensive), or by itself. It's very similar to Photoshop in both its interface and its standard features, such as layers, filters, tools, and file formats, and its support for Adobe-compatible plug-ins and vector-based graphics. Available for Windows. A free trial can be downloaded. Windows
low price JTL Ultimate Paint is a shareware program with an emphasis on features and efficient (small and fast) code. In addition to the many included filters (it also supports Photoshop plug-ins), there's a tool for modifying or even creating your own filters from scratch. Another nifty feature are the menu options to automatically load the Windows startup and shutdown screens for editing. Windows
low price Paint.NET began as a school programming exercise, producing a graphics editor using Microsoft's .Net programming tools. It has since grown into a very capable application similar to Photoshop or the GIMP, but it is still free. Because of the toolset it's developed with, it's available only for Windows. Windows
low price Pixia is free shareware program for Windows. It was designed for the anime/manga (Japanese animation/comics) community, which gives it a strong user base, but it's useful for any kind of art, really. Versions in Japanese, English, and several other languages are available. Windows
close match a close match or substitute for Microsoft's product
high quality an especially high-quality alternative
low price an inexpensive (or even free) alternative
challenge MS offers a strong challenge to Microsoft's influence
my choice my personal selection
Runs on: Windows Windows, Mac OS Mac OS, Unix-like Unix-like systems, Java Java-compatible systems, Symbian Symbian OS, Palm OS Palm OS, Netware Netware, OpenVMS OpenVMS, BeOS BeOS, OS/2 OS/2, Amiga Amiga, RISC OS RISC OS, DOS DOS
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