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Nuance (news, site) offers up a new document reader that can turn PDFs into Office documents.

Read and Write

Nuance is widely known for its Dragon dictation and its document management software. To broaden its visibility, it now offers a free PDF document reader to the world that does just a little bit more.

Instead of just viewing files, users can fill them in as live documents or use a web service to convert them in Word, Excel or .RTF format files.

Nuance PDF reader also has other advantages: it's a lot lighter on the hard disk than Adobe's own Reader app at a quarter of the file size and its PDFs can be annotated.

As a security consideration, JavaScript can be deactivated during installation, so your computer cannot be compromised by a dodgy document. If you do this some advanced features like drop down menus may not work -- in which case Javascript can be temporarily reinstated.

All of this is done while retaining 100% Adobe compatibility.

On The Upgrade

For staff working with documents, the free software also offers the ability to highlight, cross out and underline passages for others to take note of.

A Windows-only product, there is of course an upgrade path to the paid-for PDF Converter Professional that offers a wider range of features. These include the ability to shuffle documents around, as if on your desk, create portfolio documents of multiple files and makes image files searchable among others.

The free Reader also has some small adverts displayed in the upper corner for other Nuance products, but it's fairly subtle compared to many ad-supported programs. 

Interestingly, the company states that "until further notice" access to the web service that converts PDFs to documents is free. So, perhaps this offer won't last for ever, in which case grab it while it lasts.