Adobe Beefs Up Acrobat

Adobe's Acrobat converts documents into the Portable Document Format, or PDF, which is commonly used for viewing files over the Web and in e-mail attachments. Its companion Adobe Reader, a free downloadable program, is used by more than 500 million people to access PDF documents.

In the past, the Adobe Reader simply allowed viewing capabilities. But the new version 7.0, set to be unveiled Monday along with the new Acrobat 7.0, lets users make comments or editing changes for the first time -- if the original creator of the document uses Acrobat 7.0 and authorizes it, according to company officials.

Other new features:

&#149 Three-dimensional computer-aided design content could be converted into PDF files, and recipients would be able to interact with the 3D objects, say, for instance, looking at them from different angles.

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&#149 When used in conjunction with Adobe's software for corporate computer servers, Acrobat 7.0 lets users create documents and mark them for only the eyes of designated recipients. The document author could also determine whether a recipient could modify, copy, print or forward the material.

&#149 Those downloading the updated version of the free Adobe Reader could choose to install a cobranded Yahoo browser toolbar on their computers. The toolbar -- an increasingly popular method of online search engines that remain visible on a user's Internet browser -- will feature links to the Yahoo search engine and other products.

The changes are part of San Jose, Calif.-based Adobe's larger goal to turn Acrobat into a flexible platform for assembling documents from beginning to end, making it a more useful collaboration tool among workgroups.

The new software versions will be available by the end of the year, the company said. The price of Acrobat 7.0 is expected to be $449. Owners of previous versions can upgrade to Acrobat 7.0 for $159.

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