Adobe has released version 8.0 of its ubiquitous Acrobat software, integrating it with an upgraded Creative Suite 2.3 Premium, and adding a new Web-based conferencing service called Acrobat Connect.

Acrobat 8 Professional includes a number of new features, including mark-up and redaction tools which can permanently remove information from a document - features that have already attracted interest from legal and governmental users, according to a company spokesman.

Other new features include enhanced document security options, plus the ability to turn static documents into a pdf form, which can be filled in and returned online. The Adobe software can then automatically process the returned forms, entering their data into a database or spreadsheet.

Unfortunately on the same day as the company was touting Acrobat's new security features, a security researcher claims to have found critical security holes in the software that allows malicious code to be run on a user's machine through standard features. Adobe said it was looking into the claims.

The new Web conferencing service, Acrobat Connect, allows online users to discuss and edit documents or other material in a real-time conference. The service uses Flash, which Adobe acquired when it bought Macromedia, and runs in a web browser. Acrobat Connect will be available in November as a free trial, then as a commercial service next year. A later version, called Acrobat Connect Professional, will support larger meetings and more features, including voice conferencing and the ability to host conferences yourself.

Adobe said that Acrobat 8 Professional will be available in November for both Windows and Macintosh at £440 per user, or £158 as an upgrade. There will be several other versions of Acrobat 8 too, most notably a free Acrobat 8 Reader, and Adobe 8 Standard which costs £287 and includes extra features such as pdf authoring.

The company added that the Professional version is only needed to create the forms and start Acrobat Connect conferences - users will be able to fill in forms and join conferences using the free Acrobat 8 Reader, or even using Acrobat 7.

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, /X-3, /X-4, and /A formats. Creative Suite will also be available during the fourth quarter of this year for Windows and Macintosh for £1051, or £158 for an upgrade from Adobe Creative Suite 2 Premium.

Users with US offices might do better to buy their Adobe software there instead, as the company's UK "estimated street prices" and its US suggested retail prices are nearly 1:1. For example, Acrobat 8 Professional is $449 (£239) and Creative Suite 2.3 is $1199 (£638).