Adobe has revealed it has started shipping its PDF-making software Acrobat 8. The new version provides designers with tools for communicating and collaborating on documents across the boundaries of operating systems, applications and firewalls, says the company.

Acrobat 8 includes Acrobat Connect, which allows online users to discuss and edit documents or other material in a real-time conference. The service is available for a monthly fee. Also available is Acrobat Connect Professional, for larger meetings and with more features, including to chat using VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol).

Adobe has revealed it has readied a free trial of the Adobe Acrobat Connect hosted service. Acrobat Connect enables knowledge workers to instantly connect online with nothing more than a Web browser and Adobe Flash Player. Together with Acrobat 8, it allows designers to easily work together in real-time, reckons Adobe.

The Acrobat Connect hosted service is immediately available as a free trial through the end of the current calendar year. The trial can be accessed via the 'Start Meeting' button in Acrobat 8 and Adobe Reader 8, and directly at www.adobe.co.uk/products/acrobatconnect. The commercial release of Acrobat Connect, initially in English, is expected to be available in January 2007 for a subscription price of US$39 per month, or US$395 per year per personal meeting room.

The company said Acrobat 8 Professional is now shipping for Windows and Macintosh, with Acrobat 8 Standard for Windows, from November, in English, French, German, and Japanese. Suggested retail price for Acrobat 8 Professional is $449, with upgrades for $159. Suggested retail for Acrobat 8 Standard is $299, with upgrades for $99.

Bundled into the latest Creative Suite release is the Dreamweaver 8 Web development software. It also includes Acrobat 8 Professional, which supports the PDF/X-1a, PDF/X-3 files, PDF/X-4, and PDF/A formats.

Adobe Creative Suite 2.3 Premium software, which includes Acrobat 8 Professional and also bundles Dreamweaver 8 software, is expected to be available on November 8, 2006.

More information on the Acrobat family, including Acrobat 3D Version 8, Acrobat 8 Elements, and Acrobat Connect Professional, is available online at www.adobe.co.uk/acrobat/.