I want Internet Explorer to simply launch
the Acrobat plugin to view the PDF within the context of the browser.

The behaviour of IEx varies from version to version. You could do: 1. Use a URL which ends in .pdf: http://my.server/some/path/to/file.pdf Yes, you can build your servlet so that your URLs look as if they point to static files. This may, of course, require a major redesign of your site structure. Nevertheless this is the only known way to get always what you want. 2. Append a dummy parameter: http://my.server/servlet?e=.pdf This will only work reliably if your base URL does not end in a registered extension (on the machine where the browser runs!)

In either case, set the content type to application/pdf


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