Adobe Reader Update 9.3.4
When Flash and Shockwave have updates, Adobe Reader can't be far behind. Yesterday we began seeing prompts to update Reader. The simplest way to update is to click on the prompt and follow the instructions. It's fast and easy, and when done it will stop prompting you to update.
If you'd like to download the update patch alone and install on several machines, here's the link to the Patch page: http://www.adobe.com/support/downloads/thankyou.jsp?ftpID=4761&fileID=4450
Therer are alternatives to Adobe Reader for viewing PDF documents, all with their own fans. Foxit Reader is probably the best-known; you can download it here free: http://www.foxitsoftware.com/pdf/reader/addons.php Foxit does the job, with a smaller application; but when you start installing the addons it becomes quite confusing and nightmarish to me.
PDF Document Conversion
Foxit also allows you to convert documents to PDF, which is increasingly valuable. I use CutePDF Writer, and another free PDF utility is PDF995. OpenOffice.org has long included a PDF converter.
When you save or print a document to PDF (Portable Document Format), that document becomes readable by any PDF reader utility, such as Adobe Reader or Foxit. As these utilities are free and widely available online, most people will have a PDF reader installed on their computer. That means the end to conversion issues, which happens when someone sends you a Word or Works document, for example, and you don't have the program or the right version to read the document.
To create a PDF from your document or picture, with a PDF converter installed, simply print the document to the PDF converter program. Click File - Print, then select CutePDF Writer or whatever you have installed.
Microsoft Office File Converters
Another way around the conversion issue ("Somebody sent me this file, but I can't open it") is for the originator to save the document in a more universal format. In other words, if she's using Word from Microsoft Office 2010, and you're still on Office 2003, you may not be able to open the .docx file she sends to you. She can fix that by saving the document as a lower version of Word or as RTF (Rich Text Format). Or, she can simply print the 2010 document to a PDF printer (CutePDF Writer, Foxit, etc.). Then she sends to you the RTF or PDF or DOC in a version more people can open and read.
Of course, Microsoft also makes it possible for users of Office XP or 2003 to open and create documents in the new "x" format (Open XML) that began with Office 2007. Go here to download the Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack. As per the Microsoft instructions, be SURE to download and install all Microsoft High Priority Updates prior to installing the Compatibility Pack. (In XP, open Internet Explorer, go to Tools - Windows Update and follow the prompts to download the High Priority Updates. In Vista or Window 7, click Start - Windows Update.)
The documents you create can be saved in many formats, and you should consider the recipient's probable resources when sending the document. Does he have Office 2010, or just Microsoft Works, or WordPerfect? PDF almost always works, converting to RTF also always works.