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Update: Microsoft's Creature House Acquisition

No word yet on future development plans By Dave Nagel
Earlier today we reported that Microsoft had acquired "certain assets" from Creature House Ltd., a company that develops illustration and animation software for Macintosh and Windows systems. These include Expression, a vector illustration application, and LivingCels, an animation that had just reached the public preview stage when the acquisition was apparently finalized.

Since the time of our initial report, a Microsoft spokesperson responded with a brief statement regarding the acquisition. "Microsoft posted a public notice in September 2003 that was in the final stages of an acquisition of Creature House, a small software company based in Hong Kong. Creature House is a privately held company and the terms of the acquisition were not disclosed."

Though Microsoft said it previously posted a public notice about the deal, the acquisition became apparent only recently when a new Microsoft copyright notice appeared on Creature House's Web site, along with the following statement: "Microsoft has completed the purchase of certain Creature House assets. Please continue to check back at this website for further information regarding availability of the Expression and LivingCels products."

Last month, Creature House suspended sales of its software, saying that it was restructuring its download process, but with no mention of the Microsoft purchase. The suspension occurred just days after the release of the first public preview of the company's new animation program, LivingCels. This program is based on technologies pioneered in the company's flagship application, Expression, which is a 2D vector drawing and illustration package. Expression was previously owned by MetaCreations, but was re-acquired by Creature House--composed of the team that originally developed the software and sold it to MetaCreations--back in 2000.

Microsoft has not yet responded to requests for information about the company's plans for the two applications, which have gained in popularity among creative professionals over the last few years. Creature House's Web site still says the software is due to resume sales later this month. We'll bring you more details when they become available.

For more information, visit

Contact the author: Dave Nagel is the producer of Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; host of several World Wide User Groups, including Synthetik Studio Artist, Adobe Photoshop, Apple DVD Studio Pro, Mac OS, Adobe InDesign, Adobe LiveMotion, Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; and executive producer of the Digital Media Net family of publications. You can reach him at

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