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Adobe Jumps to Acrobat 8

Adobe Systems  has released the Acrobat 8 content creation product line, as promised, featuring a new collaboration feature built on, of all things, Flash  technology.

The PDF,  Portable Document Format, has been settled for some time, so the new Acrobat 8 product line – which includes Acrobat 8 Professional, Acrobat 8 Standard, Acrobat 8 Elements, Acrobat 3D Version 8, Acrobat Connect, and Acrobat Connect Professional – is focused on broadening the features around the format.

For example, this new version allows users to take a static PDF and make the form fields fillable, rather than printing out the document and writing the information in text boxes.

PDF has had the ability to let people fill out the fields for some time, but this new version makes it easier, according to Marion Melani, group marketing manager for Acrobat.

The information can then be saved in the PDF, so the user has their own copy, and the filled out PDF returned, which eliminates the need for paper on both ends of the chain, said Melani.

As part of Acrobat 8, Adobe introduced Acrobat Connect, a hosted service that came along with the acquisition of Macromedia last year. Acrobat Connect is built on Flash technology and allows for "always-on” personal meeting rooms.

Meeting rooms allow two people to share a screen, chat, see each other's whiteboards and make and share notes.

For reading content created with the new software, the Acrobat Reader 8 will be available in December as a free download. Acrobat 8 Professional is available for an estimated street price of $449, with qualified upgrades of $159. Acrobat 8 Standard will cost $299, with qualified upgrade for $99.

The Acrobat Connect hosted service will be available for a free trial through December. After that, it will be $39 per month or $395 per year.