Adobe aims at workgroups with Acrobat 7

Adobe Systems Inc. by the end of the year will release version 7.0 of its Acrobat products, including a new free Acrobat Reader that now includes reviewing capabilities, the company announced Monday.

With the updates, San Jose, Calif.-based Adobe is underscoring its focus on workgroups and document management. The client products all tie in to the company's Intelligent Document Platform, a set of elements Adobe wants to use to make PDF (Portable Document Format) with XML (Extensible Markup Language) additions a common way to get data in and out of enterprise systems.

Acrobat 7.0 Professional users can create PDF (Portable Document Format) files and allow those to be reviewed and commented on by Acrobat Reader 7.0 users. The reader features a new reviewing toolbar that can be enabled when the PDF file is created in Acrobat Professional, according to Adobe.

Acrobat 7.0 Professional will also be incorporated into the forthcoming Adobe Creative Suite Premium v1.3, which is expected to ship in English by the end of the calendar year.

Included with Acrobat 7.0 Professional is Adobe LiveCycle Designer, a tool to design PDF forms that work with back-end enterprise systems using XML. These special forms allow organizations to automatically process data sent in PDF forms, so there's no need to re-enter the information into their own back-end systems.

Adobe's Intelligent Document Platform goes up against Microsoft Corp.'s XML plans for Office and InfoPath and competes with products from several smaller vendors.

Catering to its traditional audience of design professionals, Adobe has enhanced the Acrobat applications to display PDF files that include "live" 3D computer-aided design (CAD) content as opposed to a static 3D picture, the company said.

The high-end Acrobat 7.0 Professional is targeted at technical and creative professionals and is priced at US$449. An upgrade from selected preceding versions is available for US$159. Upgrades to Adobe Creative Suite Premium v1.3 also cost $159. Acrobat 7.0 Standard is aimed at business professionals and costs $299, with the upgrade version priced at $99.

Acrobat 7.0 Standard and Professional will be available in English, French, German and Japanese by the end of the year for Mac OS X and Windows. Acrobat Reader 7.0 will be available for Mac and Windows by year's end and next year for Linux, Pocket PC, Palm OS and Symbian, according to Adobe.

Peter Cohen contributed to this report.

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