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Microsoft told to remove PDF support from Office 2007

Microsoft raised a few eyebrows when it announced that it would natively support the ability to publish documents in Adobe PDF format. Given the popularity of PDF documents (for better or worse) on the web, support from Microsoft was seen by most as a nice addition for Office 2007.

That is all about to change now due to concerns raised by Adobe. The two companies were in talks for the past four months about the inclusion of PDF functionality in Office 2007, but those talks broke down recently. Microsoft contended that it is in the clear as far as native PDF support goes and that its customers have been asking for the features. Adobe countered by saying that Microsoft should either remove the feature altogether or charge customers for it. "The 'save as PDF' feature is the second most popular request we get from customers. Adobe has told the world that PDF is an open format...and (rival) products OpenOffice, WordPerfect Office and Apple (Computer's applications) already support PDF and tout it as a selling feature. Microsoft should be able to support PDF as well," stated Microsoft attorney Dave Heiner.

As a result of the legal bickering, Microsoft will remove not only the save as PDF feature that is available in Office 2007 Beta 2, but also the ability to save documents in Microsoft’s own XPS format. Customers will, however, be able to download both options as free downloads from Microsoft's Office homepage.

Brian Jones, program manager for Microsoft Office, is really disheartened over the whole situation. He recently wrote about his thoughts on the matter in his blog:

This really is one of those cases where you just have to shake your head. Adobe got a lot of goodwill with customers, particularly in government circles, for making PDF available as an open standard. It’s amazing that they would go back on the openness pledge. Unfortunately, the really big losers here are the customers who now have one extra hassle when they deploy Office.

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Adobe PDF usage distinctions
By david Canada on 6/2/2006 11:07:32 PM , Rating: 2
As I recall, PDF is an open standard to read. However, Adobe always required a premium license to create a PDF files. Also at play may be Microsoft's famous extend and extinguish tactics on industry standards eg HTML. Why else would talks last 4 months and then end with the functionality available only by an Adode provided download?
I am expecting OS x systems to get more notice through 2007 in government users due to the ability to support OSx, XP and UNIX by dual booting and likely soon virtualization. So more, not less choice is ahead.

RE: Adobe PDF usage distinctions
By Bonrock on 6/3/2006 4:02:14 AM , Rating: 2
Why else would talks last 4 months and then end with the functionality available only by an Adode provided download?

Based on what I've read in numerous articles today, my understanding is that Microsoft--not Adobe--will provide the PDF functionality as a free add-on download for Office 2007. This is in lieu of including the functionality right out of the box. Nonetheless, it seems that Adobe objects even to the free download approach--this is why Microsoft is saying they expect Adobe to sue them.

By david Canada on 6/3/2006 10:13:55 AM , Rating: 2
Missed that detail....XPS might be argued to be the "extend" play. The irony though is that Microsoft has waited to this late hour to bring on PDF and is arguing for standards. It ought to be possible to more easily add standard file formats etc to Windows services and Office.. recall .zip .mp3 encoding and .pdf needed standalone programs. DVD and Divx became part of a services library.. but then Microsoft was motivated to move in the media direction due to weaknesses there and tried later to foist .wma and .wmv on the public (and gave IPOD an 80% share). I guess Adobe knows all the facts better than I do..

RE: Adobe PDF usage distinctions
By Trisped on 6/6/2006 12:10:54 PM , Rating: 2
extend and extinguish isn't likely since adobe will still provide their free reader and so many people already use the PDF format. The only thing they might do is not implement commands properly, so the viewer wouldn't display PDF files from other software properly. Since there is already a free reader available, all adobe would have to do is fix it so it actually works right, then everyone would still download it and their wouldn't be a problem.

1)acrobat reader sucks
If anything, adding a faulty PDF viewer to MSO would only help the end user. Have any of you actually looked at the acrobat reader lately? Even on reasonably fast computers it takes 3-4 times longer to load then any other desktop app. Version 7.0 isn't compatible with over half the acrobat files I come into contact with. The page viewer does not optimize for large screens well. If Adobe would put some actual money into fixing the reader, perhaps we would get a reader that is worth using. While they are at it the might as well throw in some content creation stuff too. The fact is they are just trying to squeeze every dime they can out of us, weather they have a good product or not.

2)MS didn't kill HTML
HTML was not designed to be an exceptionally robust language. As a result other languages had to be created to flush it out (like JavaScript and CSS). Microsoft didn't kill HTML, W3 (the people who created and updated HTML) declared that it would no longer be updated. Instead the created CSS to provide a more robust webpage creation tool. What Microsoft has done that is a problem is they have not properly implemented sections of CSS so those who write web pages for IE must use strange tricks to get the page to look the way they want.

"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad

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