Adobe's collaboration services emerge from beta

Adobe Systems on Monday will move its Web-based productivity and collaboration services out of beta and offer for-fee subscriptions to provide what the company hopes will be a new way for business users to collaborate on document creation.

The company also will introduce a spreadsheet service called Acrobat Tables, which goes into preview release on Monday, said Erik Larson, director of marketing and product management for Other services already available are a word processing application called Buzzword; a Web meeting application, Adobe Connect Now; and Presentations, an application akin to Microsoft's Office PowerPoint for building presentations.

Web-based services that compete with packaged software like Microsoft Office and IBM Lotus are becoming more prevalent; Google and others also have offerings in this market. Adobe, based on its history in the document-creation and management market, has a strong position to rival Office among business users, at whom is aimed.

Adobe is offering two subscription levels for -- Premium Basic and Premium Plus. Both are available as either a monthly or annual subscription, Larson said.

The basic level is US$14.99 a month or $149 a year and includes conversion to PDF for 10 documents a month, as well as the ability to hold Web meetings with up to five participants. The plus level costs $39 a month or $399 a year, and offers unlimited PDF conversions and Web meetings for up to 20 participants. Adobe offers telephone and Web support for both subscription levels, Larson said. A special introductory promotion that lasts until July 16 will give customers $15 off the annual plan and $50 off the plus plan, he added.

Adobe also will still offer a free basic version of services in addition to the subscriptions.