Adobe takes on Microsoft and Google with Saas products

Adobe will unveil a batch of online services at its Adobe MAX user conference in Chicago this week.

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Adobe will unveil a batch of online services at its Adobe MAX user conference in Chicago this week.

The company will spin out the beta of a new service called Share that allows users to collaborate on documents and publish them to wikis or other web pages, said Erik Larson, director of product management for Adobe.

In a similar vein, Adobe plans to reveal it has also acquired Virtual Ubiquity, the maker of a web-based, multi-user word processor called Buzzword.

Adobe is battling Microsoft on several fronts as it tries to move further into the market for worker collaboration tools, particularly for small to medium-sized businesses that don't have the budget or IT team to purchase and install complex collaboration software, Webster said.

Buzzword is a step forward in this strategy, joining tools like Adobe Acrobat Connect, a web conferencing application. According to Rick Treitman, CEO of Virtual Ubiquity, the software offers "page-perfect rendering" of documents, which are editable by multiple users and are stored in the firm's databases but can be exported today to rich-text format (RTF) or Word documents.

Support for Portable Document Format (PDF) and OpenDocument Format (ODF) standards are also on the horizon.

Buzzword and Share will both "always be free," Larson said. They represent Adobe's plan to provide more software as a service, said Melissa Webster, an analyst with research firm, IDC. This is another area where Adobe plans to gear up against not only Microsoft but Google.

"I don't think we've seen the full Adobe footprint here," Webster said. "I think we'll see a growing portfolio of different services and capabilities. ...Right now it's just the beginning."

The company will also make the first beta of its upcoming Adobe Media Player available for public download at its Adobe Labs site, while announcing partnerships with a slew of content developers it hopes will drive demand for the free desktop product.

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