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ColdFusion Authors: Yakov Fain, Jeremy Geelan, Maureen O'Gara, Nancy Y. Nee, Tad Anderson

Related Topics: Adobe Flex, ColdFusion, Machine Learning , Release Management , @CloudExpo

Adobe Flex: Article

Adobe Tries Commercializing Its Online Software

The base widgetry will still be free but Adobe has created two paid subscriptions meant for business users

Acrobat.com, Adobe's nascent, still-evolving online productivity software, moved out of public beta Monday and into its first foray into commercialization, ahead of any similar move into the cloud by Microsoft.

The base widgetry will still be free but Adobe has created two paid subscriptions meant for business users that add capacity and capabilities to the otherwise freebie software.

The software currently consists of Buzzword, the online word processor that Adobe bought; ConnectNow web conferencing; Create PDF, which turns files in other people's formats into Adobe's PDF; and Share, and an online file-sharing service that lets users upload files so multiple other users can download them.

Acrobat.com, which fancies it can establish a "new way to work," is nothing if not focused on collaboration, which Adobe estimates is a $2 billion opportunity.

To exploit that opportunity Adobe intends to add a spreadsheet-like app called Tables and another one called Presentations later this year. It also intends to offer shared team workspaces next winter and mobile access from iPhone, BlackBerry, Nokia and Windows Mobile smartphones next fall.

Preview versions of Presentations and Tables, which isn't a full-blown spreadsheet and is only tuned for data tables - accommodating stuff like task lists, schedules, contacts, budgets and sales numbers - are now in public beta at labs.acrobat.com.

Over the next year, Adobe is also planning a new interface, social media-style updates from the documents people are working on, deeper integration with desktop tools like Outlook 2007 plus import from and export to Open Office formats.

In the year since Acrobat.com launched, Adobe says five million people have signed up to use the service, with over 100,000 now signing up each week.

Rick Treitman, Buzzword creator and entrepreneur-in-residence in Adobe's Business Productivity Business Unit from whence acrobat.com comes, figures a third of them don't use it, a third use it a lot, and a third use it sometimes.

Acrobat.com, to say the least, is a very snazzy-looking environment and has let users abandon the tedious custom of e-mailing multiple versions of documents back and forth to collaborate on documents in real-time instead.

To begin to pay its way, Adobe has created two supported Premium subscription services: the $14.99-a-month/$149-a-year Premium Basic includes ConnectNow web meeting capacity for up to five participants and online conversion of 10 uploaded documents to PDF a month.

The $39-a-month/$390-a-year Premium Plus includes ConnectNow capacity for up to 20 participants and unlimited online creation of PDF files.

Both include Adobe phone and web support.

The free service will continue to offer Buzzword, ConnectNow capacity for up to three participants, and online creation of up to five PDF files.

Until July 16, Adobe is offering $15 off the Basic annual plan, and $50 off the Premium Plus annual plan. Initially, both subscriptions are only available from the Adobe.com online store in North America.

Adobe got IDC to reason that "Improved collaboration is a critical need for today's companies that must move faster and do more with less. At the same time, business people expect to use online technology at work just like they do outside the workplace - especially the generation now entering the workforce."

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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