Nitro Launches New PDF Reader to Challenge Adobe Lead

Nitro is introducing Nitro Reader 3 to offer an alternative to industry leader Adobe Systems. Nitro officials say the product makes creating PDFs easier by incorporating Microsoft’s Office ‘Ribbon’ into the interface.

Upstart PDF technology provider Nitro has fired another shot across the bow of its giant rival Adobe Systems with the release of Nitro Reader 3.0, a free tool for creating and reading content using the portable document format (PDF).

Reader 3.0 takes a few of the features found in Nitro Pro 8, released in September, and offers them as a free on-premise application, and adds the Microsoft Office Ribbon to make creating PDFs easier.

While Nitro Pro 8 is natively installed on Lenovo PCs, a coup for Nitro, Reader 3.0 is not, said Sam Chandler, founder and CEO of Nitro.

Notable features in the new Reader include auto save and recovery to save documents at regularly scheduled intervals to protect what the user has written in the event of a system crash. The Reader also supports smaller file sizes of between 50 kilobytes (KB) or 100KB instead of 300KB, 500KB or a megabyte, which is designed to make for easier sharing of PDFs via email.

Also new in version 3.0 is a “Smart Alignment” feature for typing text, which makes it easier to move a document from Microsoft Word and drop it into a PDF to create an online form, Chandler said.

“We intelligently figure out where the form fields are and then we auto-align your text to those fields,” he said. Instead of your having to click and figure out … where the other alignments are and trying to do it yourself, we do it for you. The end result is that it’s quicker to fill out the form and it looks neater as well.”

Nitro also makes the Reader 3.0 interface easy to use by incorporating the Microsoft Office Ribbon as part of the application. Nitro licensed from Microsoft the Ribbon that is familiar to users creating content in Word, PowerPoint or Excel.

While Nitro also offers products that users have to pay for, it offers Reader 3.0 free and loads it with features that users have to pay for if they want them from Adobe, said Chandler.

“What we offer is what is still the world’s only free reader and creator. Offering PDF creation for free is something Adobe has never done and is unlikely to ever do,” he said.

An Adobe spokesperson declined to comment specifically on the details of Nitro’s product introduction. However, in a prepared statement, the spokesperson said, “Where others focus their efforts on delivering a few popular features, Adobe’s focus is on empowering the business worker and IT.”

The statement continued: “Adobe is one of the largest software companies in the world, committed to superior products through millions of dollars of investment in research, development and testing of its software.”

Adobe launched Acrobat XI Oct. 1.