FineReader's speed and accuracy have improved, too, and the software now works hand-in-hand with Microsoft Office 2003. For example, you can scan a document directly into the middle of a Word 2003 document, then use Word's own proofing tools to correct the recognized text. You can also output scanned documents to PowerPoint 2003, making it easy to create presentations from existing documents.
FineReader can handle pages with complex formatting, such as this mortised illustration, but you'll have to do some manual tweaking to help the app get it right.
A bonus program included with FineReader scans forms, but this is not a particularly helpful tool, since FineReader doesn't, for example, automatically identify the blanks the way ScanSoft's PaperPort Pro 9.0 does.
In general, FineReader performed very well in our informal tests, with few errors, handling even multipage documents scanned with an automatic sheet feeder without incident. Some complex formatting and tables, however, resulted in reversed text: light text on a dark background. Text wrapped around a nonrectangular shape also caused some problems but was resolved with some manual adjustment.
Technical support for Abbyy FineReader is very good; Abbyy offers free support for registered users for the life of the product. The company's &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Eabbyyusa%2Ecom" target="_blank">online technical support site offers a wealth of useful information, including a list of tested and supported scanners. You can also contact the company for technical support by e-mail or by phone. Phone support is available via a toll call Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT.
Abbyy provides good online support for FineReader and offers additional technical support via e-mail and phone.