I know some people were wondering about this – it’s now official. Digidesign reports Pro Tools 8 is actually shipping now, with the integrated MIDI edit window, score notation editor (via recently-acquired Sibelius) right in the DAW, bundled instruments and synths, some amp simulation, “Elastic Pitch,” and additional insert slots.

None of this is huge news to users of competitive products, with the notable exception of Sibelius notation integration. I’m very keen to hear how people actually use that, because the score facilities in tools like Logic aren’t competitive with favored tools like Sibelius and Finale, in my experience. On the other hand, many people are perfectly happy keeping their scoring and audio editing workflows separate from one another – particularly if you’re using Pro Tools for audio editing and Sibelius to write that new string quartet. So as this ships, do let us know how you’re using it, or if it’s a non-starter.

So, what does it cost to upgrade?

Pro Tools HD 8 Upgrade: $249 US
Pro Tools LE/M-Powered Upgrade: $149 US
Pro Tools M-Powered Full Version: $299 US (for use with M-Audio audio interfaces)

If you bought Pro Tools systems or upgrades since October 3, the new release is (rightfully) free.

Of course, that still means you might still be tempted to just go buy one of the cheaper Mbox products with Pro Tools LE included. There are also upgrades for the Music and DV bundles.

Note compatibility: Vista SP1 (32-bit only, still no 64-bit) is supported, as is Mac OS X 10.5.5. 10.5.6 isn’t ready yet, and Vista requires Business or Ultimate, which as I said in the past I still find pretty odd given that Home Premium is basically identical from a support standpoint. (Digi’s choosing to be a bit literal with that.) On the other hand, only Leopard support is available, whereas on Windows XP Home and Professional remain supported with XP SP3.

Once this arrives, I’ll be curious to hear about you. I’m happy doing my work in SONAR and Live at the moment, so I don’t think I’d be a fair judge, but someone who uses Pro Tools daily would be. Be in touch.

Pro Tools 8 Shipping [News @ Digidesign.com]