Adobe to refresh Acrobat Connect

Adobe Systems' upgraded Web conferencing service will add meeting editing, archiving features as well as virtual breakout rooms for online classes.

Elsa Wenzel

Adobe Systems plans by the end of May to unveil the latest version of Acrobat Connect Pro, which can handle Web conferencing as well as conduct corporate trainings and manage academic courses.

Web conferencing is increasingly being touted as a "green" tool that reduces the costs and carbon emissions of business travel.

Users of Connect can chat during online meetings, which can be recorded and archived with audio, video, and transcripts of chats intact. Among the unique features are whiteboarding tools and the capability for groups of users to separate into virtual breakout rooms. There's also integration with third-party IM applications.

Audio recording options allow precise controls for presentations.
Audio recording options allow precise controls for presentations. Adobe

Connect can work in any Flash-enabled Web browser. There's no need, for instance, to enable Java or to monkey with administrator privileges.

Adobe AIR enables Flash presentations from Connect to be played on the desktop away from the browser, which could come in handy for business travelers who fly frequently. The files can also be viewed on Flash-enabled mobile phones.

Adobe Presenter, also receiving an update, adds a tab of functions to Microsoft PowerPoint 2007. It lets users create presentations rich with audio, video, and animations, which can be integrated with Acrobat Connect.

Adobe says it has 72 percent of the market share for "eLearning". Among the competitors to Connect--which starts at $42 per month--are WebEx, which Cisco Systems bought last year, and LiveMeeting, which Microsoft is selling to direct retailers.