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Adobe thinks handhelds with PageMaker 7.0

The latest version of the company's page-layout software allows users to view PDF files on a variety of computing systems, including PDAs and other wireless devices.

As handheld computers catch on, Adobe Systems wants to make sure its desktop publishing tools aren't limited to the desktop.

The latest version of the company's page-layout software PageMaker, announced Tuesday, allows users to view PDF (Portable Document Format) files on a variety of computing systems, from desktop and laptop PCs to personal digital assistants and other wireless devices. PDF is a popular format for distributing documents over the Internet.

The release of PageMaker 7.0 adds momentum to the San Jose, Calif.-based company's drive toward handheld computers. In April, Adobe announced a version of its Acrobat Reader for Palm's market-leading operating system, allowing handhelds to read and search PDF files. That version shipped late last month, Adobe said Tuesday.

With the new version of PageMaker, "you can actually publish PDF to a variety of PC devices, such as PDAs and wireless devices," said Joann Buckner, PageMaker product manager. "Much of the work is done on the PageMaker side to identify elements of the publication that would change for each device--actually reflow the document for that PC device."

The new feature could raise the stakes in the market for electronic books, where no company has yet to establish a strong foothold. While Microsoft Reader delivers crisp, clear text to Pocket PC handhelds, such as Compaq Computer's iPaq, Adobe's eBook reader 2.1 offers similar features for other devices. Palm, for one, ships the eBook software with its m505 handheld.

For book or magazine publishers that already use PageMaker print layout, the new software would help simplify the process of creating electronic versions of their documents.

Users of PageMaker 7.0 also can create business reports, brochures, newsletters and classroom materials. The software runs on the Mac OS and Windows 98, 2000, ME and NT 4.0 (with Service Pack 5 or 6).

The upgrade will be available later in the summer to customers in the United States and Canada for an estimated street price of $499 for the full product and $79 for upgrades. For educators, the estimated street price is $289 for the full product, while the upgrade price remains the same.

Adobe will release its earnings report Thursday at 2:00 p.m. PDT.