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Adobe Takes Presentation Software to the Web

Graphics software giant Adobe has unveiled the latest in its Web-based software push -- today debuting Acrobat.com Presentations, a free service that enables users to build Flash presentations through their browsers. It is in public beta.

It's the most recent move in Adobe's (NASDAQ: ADBE) efforts to ride the wave of interest in all things Software-as-a-Service and cloud-based. Intel and Oracle have made their own pitches for cloud-based software, while IBM issues regular announcements. Open source projects such as Ubuntu are there too.

Presentations -- which is offered through Adobe's Acrobat.com Labs, the company's area for testing new apps on Acrobat.com -- may also be an effort to strike a blow against Microsoft, which dominates the presentation software space with Office PowerPoint.

In comparison with other presentation software -- Adobe didn't name names -- the company said that 98 percent of the world's desktops have Adobe Flash technology. Its presentations can be enhanced with multimedia and with transitions, the company added, and it uses Adobe's Buzzword word processor -- a Microsoft Office Word competitor -- to edit text.

"Acrobat.com Presentations currently exports to PDF. A future release will allow users to import and export to other popular file formats. People can either present their presentations from their laptop in PDF, or they can deliver the presentation online via ConnectNow (the web conferencing service in Acrobat.com, also available for free)," an Adobe spokesperson said in an e-mail to InternetNews.com.

The service also ties into efforts to infuse productivity software with collaboration tools. Adobe said that a key feature is simultaneous editing, so that nobody is locked out of the presentation when one or more people are making changes to it.

Other collaboration features further Adobe's competition with additional vendors, like Cisco's WebEx and Citrix's GoToMeeting: Presentations taps into Adobe's ConnectNow Web conferencing software to enable groups of people to collaborate in the making of presentations.

Furthermore, Adobe said, everyone accessing a presentation can see who is editing it and can even see which slide they're changing.

"We are excited to see what our customers will do as they work together using Acrobat.com Presentations," Erik Larson, director of marketing and product management for Adobe's Business Productivity unit, said in a statement.

In addition to Presentations, ConnectNow and Buzzword, Adobe has also put a version of its own Photoshop software online.

The company has also made other announcements that will help make Flash a platform for delivering media and applications. In February, it announced its Distributable Player Solution to help smart phones take advantage of Adobe's flash platform for mobile phones, which is called Adobe Lite.

The company also wants to make it easier to develop applications in Flash. Also announced today is a widget for the company's Adobe Flex Builder app that makes it easier to write applications.

Adobe Blueprint makes it easier for developers to find code examples on the Web without leaving Adobe Flex Builder. "The purpose of this preview is to assess the level of community interest in this type of customized search interface for code examples," the company said.

Update adds comments from Adobe spokesperson.