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Notation Giants Battle Over Mac Users

Thursday November 20, 2003. 10:18 PM, by peterkirn Music Software > MakeMusic
Music Software : Notation Giants Battle Over Mac Users - macmusicRival notation software developers MakeMusic (formerly Coda, makers of Finale) and Sibelius are at again. Finale 2004 for Mac, originally scheduled for October, before that scheduled for summer, has pushed its ship date -- and long-awaited OS X compatibility -- back to December 15, as we've reported here. Sibelius has responded by trying to woo OS X customers to a competitive upgrade. (Banner: You've waited long enough.) Sibelius has been on OS X for quite some time, while Finale users continue to be stuck with Classic mode. Sibelius claims 20,000 users have switched to Finale "and haven't looked back."

The folks at MakeMusic apparently took notice of Sibelius' web campaign, as they've responded with "Our Commitment to Mac Users". Most interesting in this: the bugs of the Finale 2004 Windows release should be fixed on Finale for Mac thanks to the delayed release. (Sibelius 2.1 and 1.1, both of which shipped later on the Mac than the PC, had similar benefits for Mac users' patience, in contrast to buggy PC releases.) It's unclear why MakeMusic is pushing "Core MIDI" support which is present in virtually every Mac music app. Also, Finale users apparently took "plug-in support" to mean support for audio plug-ins -- it's not; they're referring to Finale plug-ins. Neither program supports much audio interoperability, though the new Sibelius does ship with a soft synth from Native Instruments.

Here's where the battle gets a bit interesting: MakeMusic has responded, point by point, to a number of claims of Sibelius in a rebuttle. Most scathing is the introduction by MakeMusic CEO Sean Lafleur: "It's no surprise to us that Sibelius enjoys the luxury of soliciting many Finale musicians since Finale customers are the largest community of composing musicians in the world. But we suspect many continue to use both programs for a variety of reasons. And for several years now Sibelius users have been among the thousands that are trading in for Finale."

I don't want to get caught in the cross-fire between these two scorewriters, but I do take issue with MakeMusic's assertion that lots of users are using both Sibelius and Finale. More likely, I think, is that customers, particularly institutions, have ordered both boxes, but among individual users it seems almost certain that users are spending at least 90% in one program and not the other. So there is definitely a battle going on for loyalty, whether entrenched favorite Finale likes it or not. As to the merits of their other points in the rebuttle, though, on the software itself (I can't vouch for the Juilliard School or Hal Leonard), they're essentially correct. But I think preferences in both directions are probably due to other, more significant features.

Which notation software do you use, and what do you think of the shots being fired between MakeMusic and Sibelius? Hit comment and let us know. In the meantime, we're waiting for Finale 2004 for Mac OS X so we can give it a spin.
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