Amazing as it might seem, Xara is 25 years old. And that makes us one of the longer established independent software houses. We started writing software in the early '80s, for computers such as the Acorn Atom, BBC Micro, Sinclair Z88, Atari ST, Acorn Risc computers and Windows PCs. The wide variety of different machines that used to be available has boiled down to three main platforms, Windows, Mac and Linux. Our goal now is to to support all three with our flagship product, Xara Xtreme. If you want to learn more about the Xara history, click here.

And to celebrate our 25th anniversary, we're having a once-only 25 hour 50% discount offer. All our products will be available for half price, for exactly 25 hours, on the 1st August this year. We've never done anything like this before, and we don't expect to ever do it again. But it's pretty rare that any software house lasts 25 years, and so if you have friends or colleagues that you think will like Xara software, this is their once only opportunity to get it at half price. Click here to find out more.

We're often asked whether or when there's going to be a new version of Xara Xtreme, or whether all our focus is on Xara LX. The answer is that we are working on both projects at the same time. So yes we are working on new features for future versions of Xara Xtreme for Windows, as well as Xara LX.

In fact we now have more people working on Xara Xtreme than at any time in the last five years.

Longer term Xara LX will form the basis of all versions of Xtreme on Windows, as well as Linux and the Mac. And that means that any programmer can now help progress the project faster and further by downloading the source code and joining in the development. Even if you're not a programmer there may still be things you can do to help, such as translate the program to help make it more accessible in other languages.

You can find out more here.

Recently described by a top open source community guru as "without doubt the best graphics program I have ever seen on Linux", Xara LX progresses at an increasing rate. A new stable 0.7 version, re-branded as Xara Xtreme (Linux Edition), is about to be announced as the recommended version next week. This has more working features, and is getting increasingly like Xara Xtreme on Windows.

Expect to see Xara Xtreme bundled as standard with some big-name Linux distributions, and we hope to have some announcement about that soon as well.

You can find out more here.

You can create some cool effects like this with Alien Skin's Melt effect, just one of 17 great plug-ins included free with Xara Xtreme. It's part of the Eye Candy 4000 collection of 23 plug-ins normally sold by Alien Skin for $129, but available to Xtreme owners for just $59!

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Visit the Xara graphics forums to discuss or find answers to your graphics needs. Our pick of top talk this month:

Xtreme tip: How to make your photos black & white

There are many ways to do this, including using using saturation transparency types in the Xara Picture Editor. But perhaps the easiest way is to simply select the photo and right click on 'black' on the color line.

If you click any other color it makes the picture a contone of that color. In fact left click and right click can be used to set the start and end color of the contone.

Click the 'no color' cross hatch to restore the bitmap to its original colors.

How long have you been using Xara products?

Here's 2 great movies that show you how to add text captions and watermarks to your photos.

Adding watermarks to photos with Xtreme
To see how to create a transparent watermark like this, click here.

Adding captions to photos with Xtreme
To see how to add captions like this, click here.

Or you can select Help-> Movies and find them in that list.