Adobe 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 as a free download from Adobe's website. The new version also lets those who have the professional version of the software which makes pdf files to create forms that Reader 8 users can digitally sign.

Reader 8 has a button that launches Adobe's Acrobat Connect conferencing software, formerly Macromedia Breeze, owned by Macromedia who Adobe bought for $3.4 billion in April 2005. 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. Meetings can be recorded for on-demand viewing, among other advanced features.

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