Nitro PDF Reader out to blow away Adobe

May 25, 2010 by Glenn Chapman
A woman works online at an office in Beijing on February 2010. Nitro PDF Software on Tuesday released a free reader built to break rival Adobe System's grip on the world's top digital document format.

Nitro PDF Software on Tuesday released a free reader built to break rival Adobe System's grip on the world's top digital document format.

Nitro not only lets people read paperwork scanned in Portable Document Format () but lets it be annotated, filled-in, or otherwise altered and then saved as files.

Adobe's widely used free reader lets people see and print digitized documents but not tinker with them, a restriction that can foil efforts such as filling in emailed or online PDF forms.

Adobe sells premium versions of PDF software that allow for document creation.

"Adobe hasn't adapted the product to how people have evolved in working with PDF files," said Lonn Lorenz, who worked at Adobe for a decade before becoming Nitro chief product officer in 2009.

"The fact that Adobe hasn't done it just doesn't make sense. We hear from people that they have no love for Adobe Reader; we want people to have a lot of love for Nitro Reader."

Nitro PDF Reader was available for download online at nitroreader.com.

Nitro touted its reader as more secure than Adobe software at a time when booby-trapping PDF files have been branded a prime method of attack by hackers.

Symantec recently reported that the number of PDF files tainted with skyrocketed in 2009 to represent 49 percent of Web-based attacks, topping the category.

"One of the big things about Adobe Reader is how vulnerable it is," Lorenz said.

Security built into Nitro includes letting users block access to selected websites, lock files with passwords, and turn off Java Script technology exploited by hackers to execute attacks.

Nitro Reader also lets people scan signatures into computers and add them to PDF documents.

"The whole point is to enable users to get the work done and move on," Lorenz said. "This stuff is a no-brainer but no one else has done it."

Nitro sells professional PDF software that competes with Adobe, but the reader released on Tuesday is the first free offering to let people do more than simply read and print such files.

"We saw a big hole in the market," said Nitro senior vice president of sales and marketing Gina O'Reilly. "There was nobody else offering free, powerful, no-strings-attached tools for PDF functionality."

Nitro is betting that if it wins fans for its free Reader, a percentage will upgrade to a professional version that the 10-year-old San Francisco firm sells for 99 dollars.

"No one has offered functionality to work with PDF without a catch; until now," O'Reilly said. "Adobe Reader is one of those things people just have to put up with. That is something we want to turn on its head."

The assault on Adobe Reader comes as the California firm's Flash video software has been shunned by iPhone, iPad, and iPod maker Apple.

A public feud between the companies has included Apple chief executive Steve Jobs listing what he sees as Flash flaws.

"It does give me a bit of a smile," Lorenz said of taking on Adobe on the PDF front. "But we just wanted a PDF reader that people want to use, it just works. The fact that hasn't done it just doesn't make sense to users."

Nitro Reader for English debuts worldwide Tuesday, with versions tailored for other languages coming "hot on its heels," according to the firm.

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User comments : 7

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pcatiprodotnet
not rated yet May 26, 2010
Is this any better than Sumatra-PDF ?
http://fileforum....957646/1
ZeroX
1 / 5 (1) May 26, 2010
Nitro PDF is fully fledged PDF browser, simmilar in its footprint to Adobe Reader.

The text editing of PDF files would be a killer feature here. For example the MS Journal Note Writer enables to modify converted PDFs, thus effectively eluding the restrictions of PDF licence format.
baudrunner
4 / 5 (1) May 26, 2010
No mention of LaTeX compatibility. I don't foresee a problem, though, since conversion into .pdf format is straightforward, although this is a science news web site and some mention should be made.
meeker
not rated yet May 26, 2010
Nitro PDF seems to have been heavily influenced by the latest Microsoft Office style to the point where they could be sued.
CSharpner
not rated yet May 26, 2010
Ribbon bars!?!? Ugh! I was excited about this until I saw that. What's wrong with button bars (a.k.a. "Tool strips")? This way, people who like menus still have them and people who like big, screen real-estate hogging, pretty pictures can have those too (though, with less hogging with a button bar).
Alizee
May 26, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
El_Nose
not rated yet May 30, 2010
@zeroX

you can already text min Pdf files -- you can index them based on whatever standard you desire - word frequency - hell letter count if you want or even word distance
MikeLisanke
not rated yet May 30, 2010
User interface appears less functional than Adobe reader 9. Shortcut keys either didn't exist or were different from Adobe's reader. If they want Adobe's users they need to give them everything Adobe has and then more function.

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