Which Acrobat 9 To Buy?

The talk here on Designorati.com has been about Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro (you can see the press release here, and Samuel John Klein’s article on Acrobat 9 Pro here) but I started to notice mentions of Acrobat 9 Pro Extended, so I researched the new Acrobat family and learned that it’s slightly different than before.

The Acrobat 9 product family

There are three versions of Acrobat 9:

    Acrobat 9 Pro Extended

  • Acrobat 9 Pro Extended, which is designed for business and technical professionals. There’s not a lot of difference on paper between Pro Extended and Pro, but its unique features include Adobe Presenter, which can create multimedia PowerPoint presentations and sells separately for $500 but is included with Pro Extended; video conversion to Flash Video; search and measurement tools for “geospatially-enabled PDF maps”; and the ability to convert 3D and CAD content to PDF. I am getting a copy of Pro Extended soon and will report how it works for me, but there is already one ding against it—WINDOWS ONLY. As a Mac user, I am starting to worry about the increasing number of applications out there that run only on Windows. The price is also a bit scary: US$699 for the full version, or US$229 to upgrade from Acrobat 6–9 Professional or Acrobat 3D. I don’t recall an Acrobat product being this pricey before.

  • Acrobat 9 Pro

  • Acrobat 9 Pro, which is designed for the Pro Extended user who doesn’t need the specialized 3D and presentation features. Most current Acrobat users, including creative and print professionals, will fall in this category. To grasp the concept, think of Photoshop CS3 Standard and CS3 Extended: Photoshop CS3 Standard correlates to the old Photoshop CS2, while CS3 Extended has specialized tools for specific professions and applications. If you don’t work with 3D and CAD, you can use Acrobat 9 Pro though I think some will miss the presentation and multimedia features that Pro Extended provides. The price for Acrobat 9 Pro is similar to what you would get with Acrobat 8 Pro: US$449 for the full version, US$159 to upgrade from Acrobat 6–8 Standard or Pro, or Acrobat 9 Standard.

  • Acrobat 9 Standard

  • Acrobat 9 Standard, which again is Windows-only and is designed for office workers who don’t need some features like PDF validation, redaction, and enabling of digital signatures and reviews for Adobe Reader users. It’s only one step up from the free, bare-bones Adobe Reader but it does have some good features like PDF creation from the Microsoft Office applications, PDF security enabling, shared document reviews, PDF form creation, distribution and data collection, and more. The full version is US$299 and the upgrade for Acrobat 6–8 Standard users is only US$99.

Whither Elements and 3D?

Adobe Presenter 7

Adobe Presenter 7, which retails for $500, is free with Acrobat 9 Pro Extended.

Acrobat 8 Elements has been discontinued, while Acrobat 3D Version 8 and its features have been incorporated into Acrobat 9 Pro Extended. Acrobat 8 Elements was even more bare-bones than Acrobat 8 Standard, and did not have many features beyond Adobe Reader 8, while Acrobat 3D was exactly the same as Acrobat 8 Professional other than its 3D features. If you need the 3D tools Acrobat 3D offered, Acrobat 9 Pro Extended is the logical upgrade. Acrobat 8 Elements users can upgrade to Acrobat 9 Standard at the $99 upgrade price.

As for users of Acrobat 8 Professional and Acrobat 8 Standard, the “pro” and “standard” terms still apply so the logical upgrade for you will be to Acrobat 9 Pro or Acrobat 9 Standard, unless the extra features in Acrobat 9 Pro Extended entice you.