HP to abandon Adobe PostScript

HP to abandon Adobe PostScript

The truce is over between Hewlett-Packard and Adobe Systems. HP will introduce a new version of its Printer Control Language (PCL) and revamp its strategy to offer PostScript Level 2 with its mid-range LaserJet printers.

Adobe announced recently that HP will no longer license Adobe PostScript Level 2 in 1997. Adobe estimated it could lose revenues of $US38 million when HP transitions to a clone version of the printer control language that has been developed by Xionics Document Technologies. Advances in PCL 6 give HP the latitude to adopt Xionics' version of PostScript, sources said. Xionics' PostScript clone is less expensive to implement, and it gives HP access to the source code, something Adobe wouldn't do, sources added.

According to Angele Boyd, an analyst at International Data Corporation, HP has been under great pressure to reduce costs in a maturing laser market. "What the company may be doing is offering more versions of its 5M, 5MX and 5Si models, and only one will have PostScript," Boyd said. Differences between the versions will include availability of a configured network card and device independence, she added.

PCL 6 has an object-oriented approach that allows the language to work more closely and effectively with Windows Graphics Display Interface (GDI) and a modular architecture that allows for alternative PostScript Level 2 and HTML-compatible plug-ins, analysts said.

"The structure of the print system is a more open and more flexible architecture, so it's easy to add future enhancements for Internet printing," said analyst Charles LeCompte. He explained additional benefits of PCL 6 include backward compatibility, better integration with Windows GDI and smaller file sizes that reduce network traffic.

According to HP, PCL 6 can handle low-level graphics and business presentations and needs less information than its predecessor to describe graphical information.

The print system is resolution-independent and colour-capable, although its improved graphics capabilities do not replace the need for PostScript Level 2 functionality on higher end printers or for Macintosh versions of HP's printers, the company said.

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