Friday, January 19, 2007

Adobe Reader 8 Upgrades

We recently had to upgrade all previous installations of the Adobe Acrobat Reader / Adobe Reader to the new Adobe Reader 8 for security reasons. I am tasked with upgrading hundreds of workstations automatically--I could visit each machine and do it by hand, but I'd rather not.

Adobe has graciously released a very handy tool called the Adobe Customization Wizard 8, as well as some useful information on deploying/upgrading the Adobe Reader.

Here are some discoveries I've made as I have deployed it at my organization:

If you are using the Adobe Customization Wizard 8 to customize an installation of Adobe Reader 8, make sure that under Installation Options you select “Installer will decide which product will be the default.” Otherwise, it will not install the browser plug-in correctly and it will display an error when you try to view PDFs within your web browser.

The Adobe Customization Wizard claims to remove previous versions of Adobe Reader, but for some reason, those options are grayed out. (probably because this happens automatically). So, I tested my “customized,” silent install and it automatically removed version 7.0.8 and installed version 8.0. You can also use VBS/WMI scripting to uninstall previous versions using WQL queries (this is handy for many other uninstalls).

Reader 8 installs a new startup entry on your computer called Adobe Reader Synchronizer (AdobeCollabSync.exe, or AdobeResourceSynchronizer on OS X) which will run on startup. Apparently, “if there is nothing to synchronize then it will exit immediately”. To remove this feature from the installation, remove “SC_Synchronizer” from the Shortcut section of “Direct Editor” in the Adobe Customization Wizard 8.

While trying to upgrade Adobe Reader on Windows Server 2003 or other Windows OS, you may run across the error "Error 1714. The older version of Adobe Reader 8 cannot be removed. Contact your technical support group." (see related Adobe TechNote) Since I am the technical support group, I discovered that if the old version can't be removed, then use Microsoft's Windows Installer CleanUp Utility to remove the application, then install Reader 8.

When you update Reader on someone’s machine that has Adobe Acrobat (not just Adobe Reader), and then try to load up a PDF in your web browser, it doesn’t load correctly. If you reboot, Adobe Acrobat does some sort of self-repair procedure (it just comes up with a progress bar), then prompts for another reboot, after which the PDF plug-in loads correctly in your browser. Machines with Adobe Acrobat will likely need to rebooted twice for it to work correctly.

Overall, the new Adobe Reader 8 has a cleaner look and some differences in the user interface. I had to manually add the hand tool back in (my favorite for scrolling while reading a PDF). Security enhancements make this upgrade a must.
(Sources: Adobe, AppDeploy Forums, Barnaby James, Microsoft's Windows Installer CleanUp Utility, PDF Store)

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