May 27, 2003 11:07 AM PDT

Adobe ships new Acrobat versions

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Software maker Adobe Systems released on Tuesday new versions of its Acrobat electronic-publishing software.

As previously reported, version 6 of Acrobat splits the software into several versions, targeting different classes of publishing professionals and regular office workers.

The new Acrobat Elements is a light-duty version of the software that's intended to let ordinary office workers easily convert documents into Adobe's widespread Portable Document Format (PDF). Adobe, which had mainly dealt with boxed software, will only sell Acrobat Elements to businesses under volume licensing plans for at least 1,000 licenses, priced at $29 per license.

Acrobat Professional is a high-end version of the software for engineers, architects and others who need to produce PDF files from complex documents created with applications such as AutoCAD drafting software. Acrobat Professional sells for $449, or $149 for those upgrading from a previous edition of Acrobat.

Acrobat Standard is the basic version of the software, upgraded to include new functions--based on Extensible Markup Language (XML)--that turn PDF files into interactive forms that can exchange data with corporate databases. Acrobat Standard sells for $299, or $99 for the upgrade version.

New versions of the publishing software are accompanied by a fresh version of Adobe Reader, the company's free software for viewing PDF files. Adobe Reader 6.0, for Windows and Mac systems, includes new support for viewing slide shows created with Adobe's PhotoShop Album and for reading electronic books.

The new Adobe Reader 3.0 for handheld computers running the Palm operating system includes the electronic book and slide show features, plus new support for printing documents over a wireless network.

Although the Reader software for viewing PDF files is one of the most widely distributed applications in computing, Adobe has only recently begun to try to capitalize on its position. The company last year launched new products that make PDF a presentation layer for viewing and sharing corporate data, and it forged alliances with enterprise software leaders such as SAP to better integrate PDF with existing business processes.

The moves come as Microsoft has shown fresh interest in electronic publishing.


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