Litsoft, the company that has long provided Across Lite for free, is being acquired.
According to the announcement:
“1. The availability of free Across Lite software will end at some point. While it may continue to be be available from entities that have licensed it, it will likely be restricted in its use. Or it may be completely withdrawn from the market for a while.”
“2. Commercial versions of the program may appear in the future for specific verticals.”
“3. There will be stricter restrictions on the use of Litsoft intellectual property including its puzzle formats (which should be irrelevant if there is no free software behind it). The hosted publishing service by uploading crosswords will remain and will likely be the only allowed usage of Litsoft software for a while. Outside that, people should no longer look at the .puz format as the means to distribute crosswords except under licensing arrangements. The acquiring entity will likely enforce copyrights and patents much more strictly than Litsoft going forward including infringements on copyrighted features of Across Lite program itself.
Many of us have relied on Across Lite and the .puz file format for years, for both solving via the computer keyboard and for printing out crosswords. I don’t know how the Litsoft acquisition will affect crossword solvers, constructors, and publishers, but I can’t help thinking that (a) it will be disruptive and (b) it will cost us all more money. What the heck are “specific verticals,” anyway? And “hosted publishing service by uploading crosswords” doesn’t make any sense to me. (Edit!)
I’m glad I’ve already downloaded Puzzle Solver (software from the Crossword Compiler people). Puzzle Solver can open both .puz files and .jpz files—the latter is the file format in which the CrosSynergy crossword will be provided. Alex Boisvert commented on Monday’s Fiend post with some info about .jpz files:
“The advantages of .jpz over .puz deserve their own blog post. But in short — the new format will indeed allow constructors to do things they can’t do now, like shaded squares, bold/italicized clues, unusual numbering schemes, etc. Basically, just about any puzzle that looks different in print than electronically could look the correct way with a .jpz file.”
I’m looking forward to finding out what new innovations crossword constructors will come up with when they begin producing .jpz versions of their puzzles. I always love puzzles that go nuts with numbering schemes, and would like to be able to solve them online instead of having to print out a PDF or JPEG. And shaded squares would look so much nicer than circled squares, wouldn’t they?
To sum up: I don’t really know what Litsoft’s announcement means and how things will play out, but I think we can all kiss the status quo goodbye.