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Acrobat flexes new muscles

Publishing software firm Adobe unveils the latest version of its document exchange and creation tool Acrobat.

Publishing software firm Adobe Systems today unveiled the latest version of its document exchange and creation tool Acrobat.

Priced at $249, Adobe Acrobat is based on the Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) and allows users to share, collaborate, and disseminate documents.

In addition, to round out Acrobat's document conversion capabilities, Acrobat 4.0 now provides easy HTML-to-PDF conversion, making it simpler to aggregate and reuse Web pages.

Because many documents are still in paper form and computing environments are heterogeneous, it's difficult for many companies to realize the benefits of a completely electronic document workflow, according to Sheri Schurter, a group product manager at Adobe Systems.

"Acrobat 4.0 allows businesses to leverage their existing infrastructures, because it provides a common currency in PDF for reliable document exchange across computer platforms and application versions," she said.

The latest version builds on the application's core electronic document publishing capabilities while transforming it into a tool for a slew of business uses.

For instance, law firms, financial services companies, pharmaceutical companies, advertising agencies, Web developers, and graphics professionals can easily share, collaborate and deliver documents across the enterprise, the company said.

The company points to Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems, which has used Adobe Acrobat software for years to create and distribute worldwide large volumes of documents, ranging from product collateral to employee expense forms to proposed aircraft configurations.

"The ability to capture individual Web pages or entire Web sites, review and mark up documents online, and sign off on materials electronically brings Acrobat to a new level in document distribution. With Acrobat 4.0, it's faster and more cost-effective than ever for us to create materials, receive feed back from reviewers, and then deliver final documents to employees," Fred Harper, Web services team leader, Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems, said in a statement.

Acrobat 4.0 now supports digital signatures enabling users to authenticate and safeguard information by allowing authors and key personnel to "sign" electronic documents. A digital signature can also verify that a document hasn't been altered since it was sent.

Acrobat 4.0 is expected to be available in the second quarter for both Microsoft Windows and Apple Computer Macintosh systems with an estimated street price of $249.