» New, free alternative to Adobe Reader

New, free alternative to Adobe Reader

February 23, 2010 by Steve Hannaford
Posted in: In this week's e-newsletter, Latest News & Views, New Products

Nuance, a leading player in document imaging and conversion (OmniPage and eCopy) and voice recognition (Dragon), has released a free downloadable PDF reader and converter.

The Nuance PDF Reader is based on the same technology as Nuance’s PDF Converter Professional software, as well on development work it has done in conjunction with Microsoft. It works just like the Adobe Reader in most respects. Nuance says that users can turn off JavaScript compatibility, a known security vulnerability in Adobe’s Reader.

The most outstanding feature is speed. It takes next to no time to open up a PDF file. It’s a good deal  faster than the Adobe Acrobat running on my desktop. Opening big PDF files in Acrobat on my somewhat memory-deprived and creaky old Windows XP system has always signaled a trip to the coffee machine, but the same files open instantaneously in the Nuance reader on the same hardware.

Nuance boasts of several other advantages to its reader. It is smaller in size than Adobe Acrobat, though 100% compatible. It allows you to fill out sand save PDF forms, such as expense reports or medical claim forms (that requires having JavaScript enabled), and to annotate PDF documents. It allows you to directly access and store files in Microsoft Share Point.

The most notable feature is the ability to convert PDF files into fully-formatted Microsoft Word, Excel and Office XML documents. It does this through a cloud-based application hosted at In essence, you upload the PDF to be converted and download the converted file. The files uploaded can be encrypted, and the converted file gets returned as a secure email attachment. This is a great feature (not available from Adobe) that is also free. My initial tests came up with great results, all within a minute or so.

This is an app that’s definitely worth trying out. While you are at it, you may want to check out the company’s PDF converters, though they are not free.

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One Response to “New, free alternative to Adobe Reader”

  1. Bill Brikiatis Says:

    Note that Nuance PDF Reader does not require that JavaScript be installed to use the form fill out and save feature. However, some of the more advanced form capabilities like form calculations require JavaScript.



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