Adobe Launches Free Online Applications

Slick-looking suite aims at Acrobat users, but worth a look for anyone.

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Adobe has joined the march to the Web with a suite of online applications. Like similar offerings from Google, ThinkFree, and Zoho, they're free. Unlike the others, Adobe's don't appear aimed at the masses—but they're worth a look for anyone.

The first hint that Adobe is aiming the new online services at professionals is the Web address, Acrobat is the Adobe software that creates PDFs, the files that we all read every day with the free Acrobat Reader.

But fewer of us create PDFs, particularly in the world of Windows PCs. Apple Macs can easily output PDFs. But Windows PCs have to add software. Some, including my favorite, CutePDF, offer free versions.

Adobe is officially unveiling its online apps as it prepares to release version 9 of its Acrobat software. The upgraded program makes it easy, for example, to add videos to PDF documents. But at prices starting at $300, Acrobat is more for graphics and publishing professionals.

Adobe's online applications help Acrobat professionals work together through online meetings and document sharing. The apps include the Buzzword word processor for creating docs and ConnectNow for connecting up to three people in a conference—video, audio, and/or desktop sharing.

Users can also create PDFs. But the site limits users to five free PDF creations. After that, they must buy Acrobat or subscribe to the online version at $10 a month. That alone reinforces the notion that this suite is meant for professionals. But at this price—free— might be useful to all of us.


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