Corel has released version 12 of its CorelDraw Graphics Suite, incorporating CorelDraw, Photo-Paint and RAVE. Now available for Windows platforms only, the product includes a new Smart Drawing tool and closer integration with Microsoft Office products.

Corel says the product will begin shipping in February in the UK and North America. The company is currently taking pre-orders for delivery to the US and Canada only on its US Web site, priced at $399 or $179 for an upgrade. The suggested retail price in the UK hardly makes favourable comparison, at £359 plus VAT, or £179 plus VAT for an upgrade.

The suite includes three core products – CorelDraw, the vector diagramming, illustration, and layout tool, Photo-Paint, the bitmap tool for digital-imaging, and RAVE, for Flash motion-graphics creation. The release claims a host of enhanced features, most notably the new Smart Drawing tool, and the ability to export directly from CorelDraw to MS Office documents.

With the release of CorelDraw 11 in 2002 the company appeared to be making a concerted push to make headway amongst Mac users, debuting the product at MacWorld. The lack of a Mac version of CorelDRAW 12 seems to be tacit admission that the company has failed to draw Mac users away from other popular graphics applications. The suite is now available for Windows 2000, XP and Tablet PC. Corel chairman Derek Burney told Digit that “there just weren't enough Mac users ... to make development viable.”

The company claims that the Smart Drawing tool will automatically recognize certain shapes and automatically smoothes curves while you're drawing, minimizing the number of steps it takes to produce graphics. When sketching, it intelligently corrects inaccurate movements to help you place objects and draw shapes precisely – saving time. The Dynamic Guides option causes temporary guides to appear, which you can pull from the object snap points in your drawing.

The suite includes a touch-up brush to remove defects in digital images and see the results in real time. Corel says the touch-up brush features flexible strength values that allow the user to customize the strength of the tool. The product includes support for Unicode text.