This week in PDF: Adobe rolls back electronic licensing solution

March 15, 2007


This week in PDF sees the release of an update to a PDF-based word processor and Adobe's apparent change of heart on a digital rights management (DRM) issue.

First up, UK-based Iceni Technology has launched a major upgrade to its PDF word processor. Infix 2 adds advanced search and replace, change-tracking, and the ability to simultaneously edit multiple documents. The new version also offers improved non-English font support, control over document security, annotations and basic drawing tools. To find out more or access the demo version, visit the Iceni Web site.

While Iceni's product adds document security, it looks as though Adobe will be removing some product security on flagship product Acrobat. Never fear, this change won't make your protected PDF documents any easier to access! Specifically, Adobe is looking to roll back its Adobe License Manager (ALM), which tracked Acrobat 8 installation numbers for corporate and other volume customers, or, in Adobe's words:

...Adobe License Manager (ALM)...automate[s] the complex...process of managing volume software licenses. Unlike that track files on computer hard drives, ALM...manage[s] the licensing entitlement through an e-license.

That sounds simple enough, but actually using ALM involved dedicating resources on the customer end to manage the license allocations for just Adobe products, which would likely have been difficult to justify for most. There was also the potential headache of receiving a "Please explain" notice from Adobe if the numbers were inflated because valid users elected to backup their installations on secondary workstations -- which they are allowed to do, according to a university purchasing officer quoted in Ed Foster's InfoWorld GripeLine article.

To their credit, Adobe has recognized these issues:

...we have learned that ALM requires a greater level of administrator resources than many of our customers have available to them. In some instances, there have also been difficulties in managing certain customer workflows and requirements.

For now, Adobe has discontinued its ALM program as of March 9, although its announcement cites plans to release a revamped electronic license management system at a later date. Potentially affected customers should read the announcement for Adobe's advice on how to proceed.

That's it for this week. Watch this space!

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