Adobe launches Reader 8, online conferencing

New version of Reader has a link to the upcoming Acrobat Connect services

Adobe Systems has released a new version of its Reader 8 software that incorporates a link to Web conferencing software the company plans to release next month.

Adobe Reader 8 is available for a free download on Adobe's Web site. The new version lets customers who have Adobe's Acrobat Professional software, used for making PDF (portable document format) files, to create forms that Reader 8 users can digitally sign.

Reader 8 also has a button that launches Adobe's Acrobat Connect conferencing software, formerly known as Macromedia Breeze. Adobe agreed to acquire Macromedia in April 2005 for $3.4 billion in stock.

Acrobat Connect, available now in a trial version , lets users create a Web address for a meeting room that's accessed through a Web browser running Adobe's Flash Player. Users have several collaboration tools, such as screen sharing, whiteboarding, chat, and video conferencing.

Adobe offers two version of the software. The Connect hosted service can be used for up to 15 participants for $39 per month, or $395 per year per personal meeting room.

Connect Professional, which starts at $15,000, supports up to 2,500 users at the same time plus interactive multimedia, integrated telephony, and VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). Meetings can be recorded for on-demand viewing, among other advanced features.

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