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Macromedia updates training software

The San Francisco-based company releases a heavy-duty version of its Breeze application, which lets businesses run PowerPoint presentations on the Web.

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Macromedia introduced a new version of its Breeze training and presentation software Thursday aimed at corporate users.

The new Breeze Live allows companies to transmit content created with Microsoft's PowerPoint software as an online presentation that can be viewed in any Web browser. Breeze Live can also add audio, video and interactive features such as quizzes and surveys to the PowerPoint material to create a complete package for corporate training material.

"It's a very flexible way to be able to present information in a way that makes sense for the audience," said Leesa Lee, senior product manager for Breeze. "It gives you a lot of flexibility as far as how you present material and who can see it."

The basic Breeze product, which San Francisco-based Macromedia took over with its acquisition of specialty software maker Presedia early this year, converts PowerPoint documents into compact, Web-friendly files based on Macromedia's popular Flash animation format.

Breeze Live adds support for other media types and interactive features such as live chat and videoconferencing. Yet everything is delivered in Flash, meaning viewers with any type of Web connection can access material without long downloads or page-loading waits.

"You get the rich-media features, with all the advantages Flash gives you: It's scalable, it's very compact, you can adjust for various levels of bandwidth," Lee said.

Breeze Live also continues Macromedia's exploration of delivery models other than the boxed software the company is known for. Breeze Live will be available either as a Macromedia-hosted Web application or licensed server software, with prices that range from $20,000 to $200,000, depending on the configuration.

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