File Under: Software & Tools

Adobe Dives Into the Online Office Fray

AcrobatAdobe has launched a new online office suite that brings together several existing Adobe services under a new domain — Acrobat.com. Adobe’s online office tools include its Buzzword word processor, the conferencing app ConnectNow and a 5GB online storage area for sharing documents with other Acrobat.com users.

Coinciding with the online suite is a new version of Adobe Acrobat that features support for embedding Flash movies.

Most readers are no doubt familiar with Buzzword, the Flash-based Adobe word processor that we’ve looked a couple of times. Less well known is ConnectNow, which allows you to host live meetings over the web with chat, screen sharing, whiteboards, VoIP, and video conferencing features.

While Acrobat.com is available through your browser and is squarely aimed at competing with the likes of Google Docs and Zoho Office, Adobe is also offering a version that runs from the desktop via AIR. For the moment, the AIR version doesn’t allow offline document access and syncing, but Adobe claims that will be part of a future release.

Aside from a much slicker interface, Acrobat.com doesn’t offer many features above and beyond what you’ll find in Google Docs or Zoho Office. However, when the AIR version gains offline syncing capabilities, Adobe may possibly have a real winner on its hands. Other potentially interesting developments include the possibility of integrating Photoshop Express, the company’s online version of Photoshop, into the suite.

The new Acrobat 9 — due to arrive in July 2008 — will feature the ability to embed outside documents in a PDF file. Essentially Adobe is turning PDF into a file container format — think .zip, but without the need to unzip.

The idea is that instead of having to send a PDF, a separate Excel file and a Flash presentation, you could simply embed your Excel and Flash files in a single PDF file.

Perhaps I’m missing something, but the PDF Portfolios, as Adobe is calling them, seem (like so much of Acrobat) wholly unnecessary. After all, if you’re sharing your documents online via Acrobat.com, isn’t it far easier to just send a link that offers access to all your files, rather than bulking up someone’s inbox with PDF attachments?

Acrobat 9 will ship in a number of different versions ranging from the low end at $300 to the full-featured mothership for $700. As always, Adobe Reader will be free.

For now Acrobat.com is beta offering and Adobe has yet to announce pricing, but we can tell you that it will be subscription-based — most likely there will be a basic, free version with additional storage and features available for a price.

See Also: