Earlier today, Finale 25 was released by MakeMusic. The program (Windows/Mac) features new 64-bit architecture, bug fixes from previous versions, transposing playback (see instruments at their written pitch, hear them played at their played pitch), and an expanded library of Garritan Sounds. For those of you who interact with pro audio applications, you can now do that through ReWire (I don’t use pro audio applications for my workflow).
I have only been working with Finale 25 for a little while today…I was given a preview copy, but I had some installation problems on my old MacBook (those difficulties disappeared when I used the public installation file that was released today).
My first opinion: Finale 25 opens and runs like Finale. As much as that seems like the understatement of the year, remember that this program has been reworked extensively, so to have a program continue to look and operate as it did before is no small feat. It is also important that previous users are able to open the program and use it. Remember the nightmare for Sibelius users when a new version changed the operation of the program with Microsoft Office-like ribbons? As another example, Finale has encouraged “simple entry” for years, yet those of us who have used the program for a long time (I raise my hand here) still use “speedy entry.” Both options still exist, and menus all seem to be where they ought to be.
The upgrade price is $149 from a previous version of Finale, and of course, if you have bought Finale recently (e.g. last week), I would contact MakeMusic directly to see what they can do.
Should you upgrade? Obviously, MakeMusic would prefer it if you did–and there is nothing wrong with that. Your upgrade helps the company keep the lights on and continue development on the program.
If you are a Mac user, MakeMusic has let some versions of Finale fall into obsolescence on the Mac due to “old” OS conflicts. I don’t expect MakeMusic to continue supporting old versions of any operating system, so if you have a Mac that can run El Capitan (current) or Sierra (coming), it might be worth the upgrade price to guarantee continued operation in the future.
If you are a Windows user, you are going to need a 64-bit machine to run Finale 25. Sadly, my Windows machine is an Asus T-100 Transformer that runs 32-bit programs. It is time to send that computer to the farm (it doesn’t feel that old, and in fact, my MacBook is older). To check whether your old Windows computer is compatible, open the Windows Start Menu, Choose “System” and then look under “About.” There is a category called “System type,” and my Asus reads, “32-bit operating system, x64-based processor.” Time for me to buy the Surface 4 Pro, I guess (but in truth, I need a new MacBook and 12.9″ iPad Pro first–as well as a few more ukuleles!).
If you have a more recent machine, the 64-bit program should be marginally faster and more stable than Finale 2014. If you are running Finale 2012 on a 64-bit Windows computer, it is time to upgrade. If you are running Finale 2014, you’ll have to decide whether the new features of transposing playback, expanded Garritan sounds, and ReWire integration are worth the upgrade to you. If you export audio tracks for rehearsal files, the expanded Garritan sounds should make the purchase worthwhile, and if you are a band director who makes scores for your students, transposed playback will be a nice (must have?) feature.
Missing in Finale 25 is scanning, which was recently pulled from the product. Have no fear–there are still ways to get music from paper or PDF into Finale, you’ll just have to do it outside of the Finale sandbox. Although I will blog about that in the future, look at Neuratron’s PhotoScore Ultimate 8, Notateme/PhotoScore on iOS and Android, and the latest version of Musitek’s SmartScore X2. All of these programs export scanned materials to MusicXML, which can be read by Finale.
So…congratulations to MakeMusic, and best wishes for a great launch and continued success!