CANADIAN software vendor Corel, famous for its graphics package CorelDRAW, has launched Ventura 5 and Photo-Paint 5 Plus, at the same time marking a change in focus for the firm's Asian operations. Ventura 5 is the latest version of Corel's long-document desktop publishing platform. Photo-Paint 5 Plus is an an expanded and enhanced version of its image editing software, which is now part of CorelDRAW 5. With the new products, Corel hopes to begin an important sales push in Asia, according Ivy Wong, one of the firm's sales and marketing managers for Hong Kong, Taiwan and China. 'We started in North America and then expanded to Europe,' Ms Wong said. 'We see potential in Asia, but because of language barriers and cultural differences Asia was really foreign to the management.' As part of the company's new push in Asia it is planning a Chinese format of the most recent version of its flagship product, CorelDRAW, for the first quarter of 1995. The traditional Chinese version, developed by Corel's DRAW development team in Ireland, will match the existing English version feature for feature. Corel's other sales and marketing manager in Asia, Anna Lin, said the firm had found strong markets in Hong Kong and Taiwan. But the company has yet to take firm steps to move into the mainland Chinese market because of fears of software piracy. 'We have a lot of apprehension about going into China,' Ms Lin said. 'We know that we have to spend money to open doors.' According to Ms Lin, Corel plans to make Hong Kong its base for the firm's future expansion into China. The newest additions to Corel's graphics product line represent an evolution of the company's usual approach of only selling its software within the CorelDRAW package. Corel Photo-Paint has long been a part of the package, but with Photo-Paint 5 Plus, users have the choice of whether to buy the basic bundled version or an enhanced standalone edition. Photo-Paint Plus adds several new features to the existing Version 5 feature set, including nine new plug-in features for a total of 80 effects, 1,000 24-bit photo images, 275 new seamless tiles, and 50 floating objects to be dragged into any image. Photo-Paint 5 also includes masking capabilities, support for industry-standard plug-in filters, custom brushes, and a library of 40 canvases. Photo-Paint 5 Plus will sell for US$199 on CD-ROM and US$249 on diskette and includes 100 fonts and 10,000 clip-art images in addition to the photos and tiles. Corel Ventura 5 marks a significant upgrading of the firm's desktop publishing product. Originally owned by Xerox, Ventura has a large installed user base and is well-suited to long-document publishing. But old versions were known for their steep learning curve and for limitations in their font management capabilities. Version 5 is the second since Corel took over the product from Xerox and added it to its CorelDRAW 4 suite. The new version standardises its interface to match as closely as possible CorelDRAW's and improves text handling, font management and graphics capabilities. Ventura 5 is sold as part of the CorelDRAW suite and will also be available as a standalone product. Corel Ventura ships with 650 fonts, 17,000 clip art images and 100 Corel Professional Photos. The list price for the product is US$595 on diskette and US$495 on CD-ROM. With both new products, as with its release of CorelDRAW 5 earlier this year, the company has tried to take steps to avoid the negative market reaction which accompanied the release of CorelDRAW 4. CorelDRAW 4 initially suffered from a large number of complaints about bugs and poor performance. According to Ms Wong, Corel has taken steps to ensure the input of users and to implement an extensive beta programme. Karly Li, senior corporate product officer at SiS International, one of Corel's local distributors, pointed to the late release of Ventura 5 (CorelDRAW 5 users have had to wait and send in a coupon to get their copy) as evidence of this caution. 'I think they want to avoid that problem and so Ventura is not yet out,' she said. Photo-Paint 5 Plus and Ventura 5 will ship in October.