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Adobe updates e-forms software

Adobe Systems releases new versions of its software for managing and creating electronic forms, a newly competitive market eyed by Microsoft.

Adobe Systems on Monday released new versions of its software for designing and administering electronic forms, a newly competitive market attracting attention from Microsoft.

The new version 5.0 of Adobe Form Server automatically converts forms created in XML (Extensible Markup Language), the basic language of Web services, into Adobe's PDF (Portable Document Format) or standard HTML, depending on the device on which the form is to be displayed. Form Server is available now, with prices starting at $30,000 for each CPU the software runs on.

The server software is accompanied by version 5.0 of Adobe Form Designer, a collection of tools for designing XML- and PDF-based forms and linking them to corporate databases. Form Designer is available with prices starting at $1,695 per license.

Adobe is counting on widespread acceptance of its PDF format to give it an edge in the market for online forms and fuel its push into enterprise software. The company last year acquired Accelio, a small software maker specializing in products that capture and distribute data from electronic forms, and has allied its products with back-end software such as SAP products.

Microsoft signaled its interest in electronic forms last year with the announcement of XDocs--recently renamed InfoPath--software to be released this year that will allow office workers to create simple XML-based forms that will automatically share data with other documents and back-end business systems.