Following the announcement of Adobe's next generation Acrobat software last Friday, the San Jose Calif.-based company showcased upcoming features and developments at several industry events, giving consumers and investors a look at its anticipated software.

The new software, Adobe's largest product, will feature a new user interface, enhanced input options, and more security and connectivity than the previous Acrobat 7 software.

We liked what we saw, Jay Vleeschhouwer, technical software analyst for Merrill Lynch said to clients. We think that there are enough new features and functions in the latest release to encourage new units and upgrades.

Vleeschhouwer describes Acrobats new interface as more intuitive than past versions, adding that it was more user friendly. The new interface makes it easier to find and use existing features, and also adds special features for the offline printing community.

Besides the UI there were other features that will appeal specifically to the printer community, including, for instance, the ability to do fix-ups during the so-called preflight phase of preparing material for printing.

The new version of Adobe's software will also be the first Adobe software to comprise of practical integration of Acrobat and Macromedia technologies. The software will feature Adobe Connect, which was formerly Macromedia's Breeze, a Flash-based web conferencing and on-line collaboration application.

Of the upgrade, the most compelling feature, Vleeschhouwer contends, is the ability to write and save forms data in Acrobat - a feature previously unavailable, but highly requested. This has long been one of the most important market opportunities for Acrobat as well.

The ability to fill and save a PDF form off-line (and then submit at a later date) should turn out to be a further inducement to Acrobat desktop and server sales. The data-save feature could help support adoption of Adobe’s Forms and Server technologies among corporate and government customers, he adds.

Sales of Acrobat, Adobe’s flagship product, were down 5% from August 2005, according to The NDP Group. The new product is due to ship in November, 2006.