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Mar 15, 2017

Acrobat’s getting a new version number (Reader too!)

As a member of the Acrobat and Reader Deployment Team, I’d like to share some important updates regarding the upcoming versioning changes that will come into effect in our next patch.

The Acrobat team continues to deliver a major release every couple of years and we now plan to bump up the version number with our next patch.

Starting in April, 2017, all customers on the Continuous track will move from 15.xx to 17.xx after the patch is deployed. There will be no change for customers on Classic track or older versions like Acrobat/Reader XI.

What’s Changing?

New version number will appear on splash screens, MSI queries, ARP, DLL file versions, About box and application version (for Mac). SCCM/Casper will also start reporting the new version.If there are any software audit scripts that check for version number, they will start reporting 17.xx version.

Remember, if there are any patch deployment scripts which use version number checks before applying a patch, they may need changes to handle 17.xx version number.

What’s not changing?

Everything else should work as is including: installation paths, App data paths, plist paths, ActiveX controls, SCUP catalogs, SCCM etc. Also, any preferences & third party plugins installed will work as is.

Deployment methods will remain the same. This is a standard patch, just the major version of the product will change.   Patches will continue to be cumulative. So you will be able to apply the 17.xx patch on any 15.xx version. Similarly, if we release 17.1.x version, you’ll be able to apply the patch on any 15.xx and any 17.x version lower than 17.1.x.

Other items to note:

  • No change in ‘Name’ in LWS.
  • No change to Acrobat Cleaner Tool
  • Installer & patch command lines are un-changed.
  • For customized deployment, the customizations will remain un-affected by the 15.xx to 17.xx update.


We would love to hear your questions or concerns on this change and if this impacts any of your existing workflows. Please fill in this short questionnaire to provide your feedback:



Rajjeet Kadian

Acrobat, Reader, Updates


  • By Don Montalvo - 1:38 AM on March 16, 2017   Reply

    Such an opportunity wasted. The versioning fiasco continues.

    • By rkadian - 2:35 AM on March 27, 2017   Reply

      @Don, as discussed on another thread, this is not a change in versioning system but just a bump in version from 15.xx to 17.xx with the same semantics as earlier.Hope this helps and this doesn’t impact any of the existing workflows.

  • By Shane Palmer - 7:27 AM on March 16, 2017   Reply

    @rkadian In the first section you state “The Acrobat team continues to deliver a major release every couple of years and we now plan to bump up the version number with our next patch.” and later on you state “This is a standard patch, just the major version of the product will change.”

    So I guess this creates confusion in my mind because it makes it sound like the version number is changing even though there aren’t any major new features coming with this April release. If that is true then why bother changing the version number and have the possibility of messing up IT workflows?

    • By rkadian - 2:43 AM on March 27, 2017   Reply

      @Shane, we do release major new features in every patch and the only deployment method we use for updating the Continuous track is through patches. The version number change is to ensure that customers are aware that this is the latest release and the major version is bumped to minimize any confusion about the latest release. We are working towards a regular cadence on version number bump and will keep you all posted on that.

      • By Shane Palmer - 12:27 PM on March 27, 2017   Reply

        @rkadian, As you mentioned the continuous track gets new features with every update and we have been getting these new feature updates over the past few years for DC, so I guess it still seems odd to just randomly pick a time to change the major version number.

        In regards to your comment on customer awareness, speaking from years of experience in an IT admin role, I can guarantee this version number change will be meaningless to end users. Most of them don’t even know whether they are running Acrobat X, XI, or DC even though it pops up in their face every time you launch it, let alone knowing the actual version number. And many users that are not designers just call it “Adobe”.

        The only perception this is going to change is for IT admins in that they will need to change the workflows you mentioned in your article. And based on your reply to @ProDesignTools below it could make it more confusing for IT admins that the Classic track is still 15.x and the continuous track will move to 17.x but will act as updates without needing a major install.

        However, as I am re-reading your post and all of your replies, it almost sounds like you are positioning these tracks to match what Firefox and Flash have for enterprise customers. It seems like the Continuous track is becoming the “Release” version and the Classic track is the “Extended Service Release”. Maybe it would be easier for IT admins to see the tracks named, or at least described, in these terms.

        • By rkadian - 5:30 AM on March 29, 2017   Reply

          @Shane, you got it right about the tracks but I would like to understand the changes in workflows because we will be more worried if the existing workflows are dependent on sub-sections of the version number and not the entire version number. We would like to keep the version number of Continuous release to be as close to the running year to avoid confusion about which version is the latest one and which track is most recent. I agree that end users might not be concerned about the actual version number but IT Admins are always interested in getting the most recent and updated version to the end users.

          • By Shane Palmer - 2:49 PM on March 31, 2017  

            @rkadian It looks like most of the Casper policies we use are scoped to specific versions of Acrobat DC using the full version string. I could envision some scoping to just the major version number as well since we also have older policies for Acrobat X and XI that do this. We have a large silo’d IT infrastructure and I did not create these policies so I couldn’t tell you why these were done this way.

            Just as an FYI as the current version of Casper has a fairly new Patch Reporting feature which automates patch reporting with predefined application version definitions (for lack of a better description) for popular software like Acrobat, Reader, Flash, etc. With the next major release, CAsper/Jamf Pro 10, this will be morphing into a full fledged Patch Management solution to automate the reporting and updating of popular software.

            You might want to reach out directly to JAMF to see if this is going to affect their product development, because that will ultimately affect many IT admins that use Casper/Jamf Pro 10.

  • By ProDesignTools - 7:41 AM on March 21, 2017   Reply

    Thank you for the post. You wrote: “There will be no change for customers on Classic track.”

    So just to be clear: You are saying that major version number of the Continuous (subscription) track will jump from 15 to 17 – but the Classic (perpetual) track versioning will remain at 15.xx?

    If so, until when? And couldn’t that be seen as somewhat confusing?

    Thanks again.

    • By rkadian - 3:08 AM on March 27, 2017   Reply

      @ProDesignTools, patches for Classic track deliver only security and platform enhancements. New features are not usually provided by design and customer expectations. Hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any further queries on this.

      • By ProDesignTools - 2:39 PM on April 5, 2017   Reply

        Thanks for your response, but now I’m really confused…

        According to this page on what was new to Acrobat DC in 2016, there were 18 separate additions to the Classic track:

        Most are smaller items, but some still look very much like new features?

        Sure, it’s less than half of what the Continuous track received, but still notably more than just security and platform support.

        Is that incorrect?

        • By rkadian - 2:00 AM on May 15, 2017   Reply

          None of the additions (except Deprecated QuickTime support on Windows) were available for the Classic track. Please check against each feature that they are available only for the Continuous track.

  • By alex - 12:14 PM on April 13, 2017   Reply

    When will Acrobat Reader be back on Linux? I am still hoping.

  • By Stephen St. Onge - 10:20 AM on April 14, 2017   Reply

    An information-free announcement.

    What, if anything, is the latest release supposed to do for me, as opposed to persuading your bosses that you should be kept on the payroll? You don’t even attempt to tell me.

  • By Dan Korn - 11:21 AM on April 14, 2017   Reply

    This change broke our Acrobat plug-in installer.

    As a developer of a plug-in to Acrobat built with the Acrobat SDK, how are we supposed to program an installer to know where to install the plug-in, and also whether the installed version of Acrobat will support our plug-in?

    Our current installer logic, on both on Windows and Mac, looks at the major version number of Acrobat.exe/, and installs the appropriate version of our plug-in for that version of Acrobat. This all worked fine for a long time: If the version is 10, we install our Acrobat 10 plug-in; if it’s 11, we install our Acrobat XI plug-in; etc. And if it’s version 15, we install our Acrobat DC plug-in. But the change in the version number broke our installer, because it doesn’t know what to install for Acrobat version 17.

    We can certainly change the version number of Acrobat that our installer is looking for, to install the same plug-in for versions 15 and 17. But all existing versions of our installers out in the field will have this problem.

    The thing is, it’s impossible to know what the upper end of the version range should be. We could change our installer program to not have any maximum version, but that will be a problem whenever Adobe decides that a completely new plug-in has to be built for a new version of Acrobat, where our old plug-in won’t work. Then we’ll have the opposite problem, where we’ll install the wrong plug-in.

    I would be nice if Adobe would more carefully consider the needs of their partners and plug-in developers when making these decisions about version numbers and installation locations, or at least provide us with some guidance of how to properly determine how and where to install our plug-ins to various versions of Acrobat and InDesign.

    • By rkadian - 1:57 AM on May 15, 2017   Reply

      This is unfortunate that the changes broke our Acrobat plug-in installer. I have reached out to you offline to understand this better and ensure we don’t face such issues in future.

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