Much of cyberspace today is still two-dimensional: click on a web site or chat room and you get text or pictures. But the internet could become more three-dimensional—allowing surfers to virtually step into a site, walk around, and talk to others—if Adobe Systems Inc. has its way with a new web-authoring software tool.

The new product, called Adobe Atmosphere, lets web designers create 3-D web pages where visitors can interact and chat with each other in real-time. Web site visitors will be able to virtually “walk the web” and communicate in real-time for a richer, more realistic online experience.

Atmosphere provides powerful, easy-to-use creation and productivity tools. The software leverages standard web design practices, such as connecting “worlds” through URLs and using JavaScript to animate objects, add sound, and program special effects. The Atmosphere browser is powered by the Viewpoint Media Player, which provides ultra-high fidelity object display and animation capabilities.

A public beta version of Atmosphere is available to download from the Adobe web site for free. The beta will work only on Windows-based systems; a Mac-version will be available in the early summer, the company said. Adobe expects to start shipping the final product in the summer. The company has not disclosed a suggested retail price.

More information can be obtained by calling (800) 833-6687 or by visiting http://www.adobe.com/products/atmosphere/main.html