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Print 16 comment(s) - last by TomZ.. on Jan 31 at 2:39 PM

Adobe anticipates giving up control of the PDF standard in order to keep competing formats outside the mainstream

This article was first published on HWUpgrade.com.

Adobe Systems today announced its intent to submit PDF, or Portable Document Format, to AIIM for publication by the International Organization for Standardization, internationally known as ISO.

Adobe plans on releasing the full PDF 1.7 specifications for submission to ISO. In releasing the PDF format as an international standard, Adobe will forfeit company control over the specification. Adobe claims this move will ensure its long term intentions for the format. In addition, the move is expected to help keep Microsoft’s competing format, XPS (XML Paper Specification), at bay.

Adobe adds that “PDF has become a de facto global standard for more secure and dependable information exchange since Adobe published the complete PDF specification in 1993.” The announcement comes a day before Microsoft officially releases Vista and Office 2007 to consumers, both of which support Microsoft’s XPS format.

Kevin Lynch, senior vice president and chief software architect at Adobe, said that “By releasing the full PDF specification for ISO standardization, we are reinforcing our commitment to openness. As governments and organizations increasingly request open formats, maintenance of the PDF specification by an external and participatory organization will help continue to drive innovation and expand the rich PDF ecosystem that has evolved over the past 15 years.”

The PDF format is nothing new to the International Organization for Standardization. Two specialized PDF subsets, PDF for Archive (PDF/A) and PDF for Exchange (PDF/X), are already ISO standards; two more specialized subsets, PDF for Engineering (PDF/E) and PDF for Universal Access (PDF/UA), are currently proposed standards. The process of submitting the full PDF format to the ISO is expected to take up to three years.


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RE: TomZ and Ironic
By michaelejahn on 1/30/2007 12:06:06 AM , Rating: 3
I have sat on standards committees since 1996 - Adobe has been there offering to modify and add things to PDF since version 2.1. They came through with version 1.3 (Acrobat 4) of the spec so we could build PDF/X and solve a huge problem for th prepress industry, all while Microsoft did nothing to help us. Sorry, this announcement has little to do with Microsoft, and more to do with the upcoming AIIM show where several industries are crying for standards they can impliment, all with different needs, pulling PDF in many different directions - So Adobe wisely opened up the doors and are saying "help us" - how can this seen by anyone as bad ?

Michael Jahn
ELAN GMK




RE: TomZ and Ironic
By Nekrik on 1/30/2007 4:35:34 AM , Rating: 2
If that's true (not saying it isn't) then why did they make MS pull support from Office 2007 just a few months ago?


RE: TomZ and Ironic
By mforce2 on 1/30/2007 6:33:45 AM , Rating: 2
My guess would be because they could. MS wants to step into Adobe's territory so they weren't too happy with that. MS is not only going after the PDF, it's also developing image editing and other software Adobe make a lot of money from. It's all good when you get to sell you products and MS only builds you the OS to use but it seems it doesn't work that way. MS wants a piece of Adobe's cake.
By the way , Open Office has exporting to PDF built in so I guess it's personal between Adobe and MS.


RE: TomZ and Ironic
By kelmon on 1/30/2007 7:11:13 AM , Rating: 2
As best as I remember, Adobe wanted Microsoft to remove the Save to PDF function because they were afraid that Microsoft would start implementing proprietary modifications to the PDF file standard. Now how this gels with the realisation that it's OK to download the functionality from Microsoft after you have installed Office 2007 is beyond me.

To be honest, I'm not sure why it was "bad" for Microsoft to provide support for saving Office documents in the PDF format but it's OK for Apple to provide this function for any application capable of printing. I also may be mistaken but I didn't think that creating PDF files requires a license so I can't see why Microsoft pulled the functionality.


RE: TomZ and Ironic
By Behlal on 1/30/2007 1:32:52 PM , Rating: 2
The following is entirely guesswork, I'm not claiming any special knowledge. However, Microsoft has a monopoly both with Windows and Office. Adobe could correctly argue that for something like Office 2007 to be able to directly create PDF out of the box would be an abuse of its monopoly position (i.e. an attack on another company's products/revenue) and therefore be an anti-trust abuse. PDF is presently a 100% royalty free format, so they can't stop people creating converters, but they can stop anti-trust violations.

Forcing Microsoft to make it a separate download means that users get to choose (just like the cut down version of XP in Europe can still have Windows Media Player installed on them, but can't come with it as part of the OS). Now a user has to decide whether they want the free PDF converter from Office 2007, to get another third party converter or to buy an Adobe product.


RE: TomZ and Ironic
By TomZ on 1/30/2007 2:24:29 PM , Rating: 2
That all sounds reasonable, but wouldn't Microsoft also be in "anti-trust hot water" also for XPS, then? XPS is potentially a PDF-killer that is integrated into Vista and supported by Office 2007.


RE: TomZ and Ironic
By Behlal on 1/30/2007 5:24:00 PM , Rating: 2
I can see your point, but I don't think it works that way. Microsoft is allowed to create new formats as and when it wants and the consumer gets to choose whether or not to use them. However, it can't create a competing product and bundle it for free with another product that already has a monopoly. I should make it clear IANAL and am just going on what I have read on this subject. I have also probably done a really bad job of explaining the above :)


RE: TomZ and Ironic
By TomZ on 1/31/2007 2:39:49 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks for the reply. I'm not sure I understand the logic as to why Microsoft would be free to create and include support for their own file format, compared to implementing PDF and including support for that. Both ways would decrease sales of Acrobat/Distiller, right?

Also, I think you could argue that Adobe has a monopoly with their PDF format, since I would guess that is probably >90% of the market for page-formatted documents. Wouldn't anti-trust arguments go against Adobe because of that? Not sure it makes sense; just thinking out loud here.


RE: TomZ and Ironic
By Samus on 1/30/2007 3:40:57 PM , Rating: 2
Support will be added back in.

Adobe is just making sure their format stays long term, even if they dont have control of it (they can't force Adobe Reader on everyone who wants to open spec 1.7 PDF's) and its integrated everywhere.

Because after all, PDF will always be known as Adobe PDF, even if you dont use Adobe products to open, edit, or create them.


RE: TomZ and Ironic
By TomZ on 1/30/2007 9:53:15 AM , Rating: 3
I'm not saying the decision is bad; my observation is that Adobe seems to be talking out of both sides of its mouth when it comes to PDF. With Microsoft, it tells them that it is not ok for them to include save-to-PDF, and now it says it is releasing the entire standard to ISO.

If the theory is that including save-to-PDF in Office 2007 would decrease sales of Acrobat, how is this different at all from releasing PDF as an ISO Standard? This will facilitate the same - it will allow many more companies to more easily create Acrobat replacements. How is it right for Adobe to tell Microsoft "no" and say "yes" to everyone else?


Ironic?
By TomZ on 1/29/2007 9:12:33 PM , Rating: 4
Isn't it ironic that Adobe is now openly releasing the PDF standard, after having pressured Microsoft to not release save-to-PDF functionality in Office 2007? I figure the argument they made to Microsoft was somehow related to PDF being their intellectual property; how else could they have muscled Microsoft into backing down? Anyway, pretty ironic now that they are going to take PDF to ISO.




RE: Ironic?
By tuteja1986 on 1/29/2007 9:41:17 PM , Rating: 2
Now Microsoft should add support for PDF in thee next office 2007 update for free.


RE: Ironic?
By MrDiSante on 1/29/2007 9:48:19 PM , Rating: 2
Uhm... you can already download it for free. You just have to specifically download it as opposed to it coming built in.


RE: Ironic?
By MrDiSante on 1/29/2007 9:48:19 PM , Rating: 1
Uhm... you can already download it for free. You just have to specifically download it as opposed to it coming built in.


RE: Ironic?
By borowki on 1/30/2007 12:31:13 AM , Rating: 2
As I recall, they used an antitrust argument. If Office can create PDF directly, then far fewer people would buy Distiller.

The ironic thing is that Adobe bought out the only serious challenger to PDF for online distribution--FlashPaper.


RE: Ironic?
By kamel5547 on 1/30/2007 12:50:13 AM , Rating: 2
I already buy competing products... far cheaper and same functionality. (Scansoft PDF COnverter Pro for example $99)


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