Adobe Reader is one of those applications that you'll find on nearly every PC in the world. In terms of compatibility, it's the last word in displaying the Portable Document Format (PDF), a file format that Adobe itself invented back in the day and continues to extend.
This latest version adds native support for Flash, improved portfolio (formerly called "package") support, easier and more secure signatures, a standards compliance info pane, access to the company's PDF-centric Acrobat.com Web site, and a number of other improvements. Adobe claims to have reduced launch times, and version 9 does seem a lot quicker in this regard. That said, it's no slimmer; the installer is a hefty 35MB download, the program itself takes about 200MB of disk space and 26MB of memory when running, and reader_sl.exe still loads at boot time. Even after using msconfig.exe to disable the boot loading of reader_sl.exe, I found that Adobe Reader 9 still booted much faster than previous versions.
While I appreciate Adobe Reader's large feature set, I've steered clear of it since the relatively lightweight Foxit Reader hit version 2.3 and learned how to display vector drawings properly. All I do is read and print PDFs, so I don't miss any of the other stuff. If you do, download Acrobat Reader.
Tip: Adobe wants to install an add-on to your browser when you first try to download the program. I was able to avoid this by declining to install it and clicking the if-your-download-doesn't-start link.
Note: This link takes you to the vendor's site, where you can download the latest version of the software.
--Jon L. Jacobi