Huh? PDF standardization decision has nothing to do with Microsoft?

Huh? PDF standardization decision has nothing to do with Microsoft?

Summary: Does anyone out there believe Adobe's contention that its decision to submit PDF to ISO for standardization has nothing to do with Microsoft? Especially after Adobe's much-publicized objections last summer to Microsoft embedding XPS in Vista and Office 2007?

TOPICS: Microsoft

It's only Monday. But this statement gets my vote for quote of the week:

Adobe's decisiont to submit PDF 1.7 for ISO standardization "does not, (Director of Product Management Sarah) Rosenbaum asserted, have anything to do with Microsoft's PDF competitor: the Metro format, aka XPS (XML Paper Specification) print path."

Does anyone out there believe this? Especially after Adobe's much-publicized objections last summer over Microsoft embedding XPS in Vista and Office 2007?

Adobe made its announcement on January 29, the day that Microsoft is launching Windows Vista and Office 2007 in New York.

Microsoft said last fall that it planned to take XPS to a standards body. (I don't believe the company has said yet which one; officials were probably waiting to see who Adobe chose.)

Pushing PDF an internationally-sanctioned standard is far more likely to have an impact on customer buying decisions than is banding together with the same old group of Microsoft competitors and taking yet another laundry list of complaints about Vista to the European courts -- which is exactly what Adobe, Nokia, Red Hat, Sun, IBM, Oracle, Opera and a few other companies did late last week.

(And I make that statement despite the fact that I believe the U.S. and European antitrust courts were correct in finding Microsoft to have abused its monopoly in desktop operating systems.) 

In their latest complaint, Microsoft's compeitors cited XAML and Office Open XML (OOXML) as examples of Microsoft unfairly pushing its own technologies as "standards." It's surprising they didn't throw XPS in, for good measure.

Let's see how long it takes Microsoft to make the announcement of XPS' planned standardization path, now that Adobe has showed its hand.

Update: It took one day. Microsoft said on January 30 that it will submit XPS to ECMA International for standards consideration.

Topic: Microsoft


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • MS might have something to do with it...

    ...but since PDF is widely implemented by developers other than Adobe and there's little or nothing Adobe can do to reverse this, even if they wanted to, it makes sense for them to at least take the lead in further development of the format.

    If strategic incompatibility is not an option, interoperability becomes much more important.
    John L. Ries
    • Network effect.

      pdf is probably as awkward and useless as it is for a purpose. I use Foxit in place of the Reader, but even that program charges for something as simple as text versions.

      Even though pdf may be used easily only for viewing and printing, it has become a standard for some purposes.

      Adobe appreciates this, because making some use of the standard requires other software. More use, more need for what Adobe is selling.

      Me, I think the best software for pdf converts to Word. At least it's possible to work with those formats.
      Anton Philidor
  • Possibly some more mundane reasons

    PDF is rapidly becoming the format for virtually
    all professional printing.

    In large scale operations this often entails very
    expensive, specialty workflows used to manage
    multi-million dollar presses. Even a rather
    mundane RIP can cost upward of $10,000 and
    it must be able to interpret the data fed to it

    In such a case, it?s quite helpful to have the ISO
    seal of approval. It gives the workflow
    solutions providers a firm international
    standard to shoot for, while providing a
    measure of comfort to those responsible for
    purchasing and implementing the workflows.

    In many cases, people who write about
    computers and software tend to ignore the end
    result of the work created on the computers by
    the software. In this case, that end result is
    printed matter; every newspaper, magazine,
    book, pamphlet, catalog, carton, label, etc in
    the whole world. That result is massive and
    PDF is becoming the format for all that. That?s
    why ISO cert is very helpful.
    • As you say, that's occurring now.

      Question, then: If Adobe has so managed pdf that it's already used effectively, why would ISO certification make a difference?
      Anton Philidor
  • Adobe PDF a Heavy Standard

    Of course Adobe is pushing PDF toward standardization because of Microsoft. How long has it been around? Since 1993? What took them so long?

    Adobe Reader has been the de facto document presentation standard just short of forever. This despite the fact that it's heavy, bloated, complex and difficult to integrate seamlessly in modern web applications. If Adobe were truly serious about setting a standard they would have addressed these shortcomings years ago.

    So now along comes Microsoft XPS with the benefit of a clean slate and the promise of document/content normalization many developers have been looking for. Will it displace PDF as the technology if not the standard of choice? Who the heck knows, but Adobe has only themselves to blame for now making Microsoft part of the dialog.

  • Just another ISO for PDF.

    PDF/X-3 (ISO 15930-6:2003).
    PDF/X-1 and X-1a (ISO 15930-1:2001).

    Most of the professional publishing industry has been standardized on PDF/X-1 or -3 for years. Time, Inc., for example, mandated X-1 for all 56 of its magazines on ad materials from outside agencies back in 2002.

    Microsoft won't have much luck in pushing aside least not until the company starts selling XPS raster image processors for the printing industry. Which isn't going to happen. So, if a multimedia content creator needs to go Web, print and broadcast on, say, an ad campaign, an Adobe-dominated workflow is the only one that will get you all three. Microsoft can't even figure out how to get simple color management to work properly on Windows, and they've had 15 years to get it done.
  • Microsoft Will Support PDF

    All you need do is look at what happened to the Word Perfect replacement for PDF.

    This is a done deal.,1895,1863060,00.asp Mass Belgium ISO

    Austrailia, India Peru....

    Its worse than GSM, another standard that I believe Microsoft tried to thuart in a futile attempt to promote some kind of a Windows based cell phone.

    Developers need to be paid by Microsoft to go against this overwelming current. Those who do not get paid need to remind Microsoft managment that even a battleship will change direction when the seas are more favorable on a different course. Everyone else can make money supporting ODF and PDF. So can Microsoft shareholders.

    Frank L. Mighetto CCP
  • Microsoft and Adobe will support standards

    Okay, so you don't think that Adobe suddenly has concerned itself with standards. That?s okay, standards are pretty boring, so you probably were writing about much more interesting stuff. Most people did not pay much attention when Adobe submitted Acrobat version 1.0 (PDF specification 1.0) to the IRS in 1993 - suddenly all Fed IRS forms were PDF, quickly followed by the States. When Big brother adopts something, it becomes a defacto standard, but that?s another issue. Now Adobes Sara Rosenbaum will spin with the best of the other Adobe engineers (all trying hard to be marketing types) but hey, it is tough to argue with Adobes time line;

    In my not too distant past, I represented an Adobe vendor / partner, where we were using and promoting proprietary / secret sauce technology in our ?standard? based ICC profiles and our ?value added? PDF files. The vendor I consulted with was much larger than Adobe. It was Adobe that dragged us kicking and screaming into a world of standards.

    My point here is that EVERYONE is doing a WHOLE LOT of announcements in the past two weeks about stuff they have been working on for MANY YEARS. The Vista launch is like a blend of Super bowl Sunday and the world poker championship, causing everyone to lay their cards down on the table and present their commercials ? ready or not.

    It really started with the ODF announcement, followed by Vista launch (and the ?response? to the EU) and then, hello, Microsoft laid its cards down, so Adobe could either bluff, call or fold ? they called and raised.

    But hey, what do I know.

    Michael Jahn, a person who thinks you should blink once and a while so your eyes could tear up and see what is going on a little better.