Foxit Reader keeps pushing the PDF reader alternative with its latest major-point update, version 3. Although there are some long-awaited minor changes, such as auto-scrolling via the center mouse-button or annotating images and highlighted text, there are three major changes as well.

Foxit Reader's interface hasn't changed much, but its features have. (Credit: Foxit Software)

Multimedia content is now fully supported, which means that you can embed video and audio into a PDF and play them back from within Foxit. Although the competition from Adobe has had this capability for a while, this is one that's been long missing from Foxit and ensures that it's not left behind as multimedia embeds become as essential as communicating through the written word.

To add video or audio, there's a filmstrip icon and a speaker icon that you can add to the Toolbar, or you can access them through the Menubar under Tools, Advanced Editing Tools, and choose either the Movie tool or the Sound tool. Most major formats that I tested, including AVI, MOV, MPEG, MP3, WMV, and WAV were supported.

Another new tool is a plug-in that lets Firefox users open PDFs in a Firefox tab. I've never been a big fan of doing this, since it can slow down the browser considerably. Foxit is also such a nimble PDF reader that it opens downloaded PDFs almost instantaneously. However, I'm sure that there are some users that prefer it.

The third major new tool is a plug-in for Foxit itself. Called the OnDemand Content Management, it lets you organize, share, and edit content from within Foxit with other Foxit users. It makes Foxit competitive with Google Docs, Zoho, and other Web-based collaborative tools. Once the add-on has been installed, users should check out the program's OnDemand instructions on the Menubar under Advanced and then OnDemand. The service requires registration to use it, but thankfully, it's free. Otherwise, there'd be little point in trying to compete with Webware solutions.

Additional changes include introducing a somewhat bland landing page when you run the program without opening a PDF, and support for PDF layers. Foxit Reader 3.0 doesn't contain anything revolutionary, but it's still a marked improvement on a program that never fails to put some zip into the slothful PDF.