PDF in Office 2007 - Adobe's Side of the Story

PDF in Office 2007 - Adobe's Side of the Story

Summary: Last week, news spread that Microsoft, anticipating a lawsuit from Adobe, was pulling PDF support from Office 2007. Brian Jones from the Office team wrote about the issue and even ex-softie Scoble jumped into the mix. Microsoft did a great job of getting it's version of the story out while Adobe remained silent. Over the weekend, Mike Chambers of Adobe finally gave Adobe's side of the story on his blog.

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TOPICS: Microsoft
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Last week, news spread that Microsoft, anticipating a lawsuit from Adobe, was pulling PDF support from Office 2007. Brian Jones from the Office team wrote about the issue and even ex-softie Scoble jumped into the mix. Microsoft did a great job of getting it's version of the story out while Adobe remained silent. Over the weekend, Mike Chambers of Adobe finally gave Adobe's side of the story on his blog.

Obviously there are some very complex legal issues involved, but I think the conversation was steered in an unhealthy direction. Microsoft is in a tough position. They really do have to play by different rules and to some extent, I think that's unfair. But they do have a monopoly over the desktop market and they do wield an enormous amount of power. In this case, Adobe felt that power was being misused and impacting consumers in a negative way. Mike does a great, if belated, job of hashing out the issues Adobe is dealing with.

I think competition is one of the best things that can happen for innovation. I think Microsoft does best in markets where it is the underdog (mobile, gaming, ect). One of the reasons I enjoy watching and writing about RIAs is because I think the market is so fragmented and that a clear "winner" is a long way off. But as RIAs take hold, I think competition for old markets, like the operating system, will heat up again and consumers will be the beneficiaries.

We're seeing two companies that are moving in the same direction. Naturally, there will be some animosity and some of the old partnerships will lose out. The software industry is changing and the ramification on revenue numbers will be significant. This is the first tiff in a wider argument about how people build and interact with software. It's going to get worse before it gets better.

Topic: Microsoft

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  • Adobe is just bellyaching like so many of MS' competitors

    [url=http://weblogs.macromedia.com/mesh/archives/2006/06/on_microsoft_pd.html]Per Mike Chambers of Adobe[/url], it is Adobe?s contention that it is afraid MS will embrace the PDF standard and extend it? Has MS done so? Has MS said it is going to do so? Does Adobe realize that MS is incorporating export to PDF functionality into Office because it is the second most requested feature by its customers? Where is the evidence that MS? motives are sinister? As for MS incorporating XPS into Windows, what is the problem? Can?t MS introduce a technology into Windows that competes against Adobe?s monopoly? MS should march into the EC and charge Adobe for trying illegally protect its monopoly in document export formats. All of this is just a smoke screen for Adobe not wanting to lose valuable revenue from its own Office export to PDF business.
    P. Douglas
    • A history of....

      (Disclosure: I am neither a MS basher, or a PDF lover. Now, that said....)

      Hang on, have we all forgotten WHY Microsoft has to play by a different set of rules? They abused their monopoly position, flaunted it in internal e-mails, and then got caught red handed. They AGREED to play by a different set of rules, instead of getting broken up.

      The fear from Adobe's point of view is that MS will introduce a "Click here to convert to PDF" now and a "Click here to convert to PDF and include some fancy stuff that will make your PDF work better - maybe even editable - with Word and not any other program" in the future. Given MS history of playing loose and fast with HTML, JavaScript and Java standards, to the point where they simply do not work if you use a MS product, I think Adobe is perfectly justified in their concerns.

      The problem is that MS wants it's portable document standard (XPS) to be accepted as an 'open' standard, when it isn't, and won't be accepted as such. MS has simply been flying off the handle at this point - but instead of bringing themselves up to the point where their products can be accepted as "open", they are trying to dilute others products, so there's very little difference between them. This, as Ryan pointed out, is hard to do under their set of rules. But hey, when they did this in the past, it was never good for the consumer, and it won't be either, if they are allowed to do it again. IMHO.

      Cheers,

      David
      davidmartinomalley
      • And how is that a bad thing?

        The fear from Adobe's point of view is that MS will introduce a "Click here to convert to PDF" now and a "Click here to convert to PDF and include some fancy stuff that will make your PDF work better - maybe even editable - with Word and not any other program" in the future.

        Ummm so adding "fancy stuff" is harming the consumer? In what way? Don't get me wrong, I would want to it to be clearly labled that it may not be compatible with all PDF readers, but beyond that I see nothing here but postives for the end user.

        No, Adobe's fear is that they are going to lose a revenue stream, nothing more...
        No_Ax_to_Grind
        • Because it kills competition

          "Ummm so adding "fancy stuff" is harming the consumer? In what way?"

          On the surface, it isn't. However, it is a competetive tool that Microsoft can use to kill its competition, Adobe. It has even been codified: "Embrace, Extend, Extinguish."

          Mind you, the only reason this works is because Microsoft is a monopoly. If they weren't then MS would be shooting itself in the foot by deviating from the standard, as other competitors would take market share away from MS by complying with the standard better. However, since they are a monopoly, deviating from the standard just ensures that people will use MS Word to view PDFs more than they will use the Acrobat Reader.

          Once they're in that position they can, more and more, de facto dictate what the standard will be. Better yet, they can copyright/patent their extensions and make it so that Adobe [b]can't[/b] include those features whether it wants to or not. Thus, Acrobat (Reader and Writer) becomes marginalized.

          Thus, competition is eliminated. This tactic is known as "illegally using a monopoly position to muscle into new markets."

          Obviously, this is bad for Adobe. Less obviously, this is bad for consumers. Once Microsoft establishes a monopoly, at least for bundled programs and components, it stops improving them.

          As an example, consider Internet Explorer. When MS was competing with Netscape it improved its browser regularly, with new versions released every year or two. IE 6 was released in September of [b]2001[/b]. It has now been 5 years without a change or improvement. Arguably, it could easily have been another 5 years before MS did much, if anything, with IE, except for the surfacing of Firefox. Suddenly, with competetion once again rearing its head, we have IE 7 on the horizon.

          Microsoft is a monopoly in several markets. As such they have a power that other companies don't have, a power that is detrimental to free-market economics. Therefore, they must play by different rules than non-monopolies. They may not like it but that's the consequence of their success.
          FamilyManFirst
          • And this hurts Adobe how...?

            [b]However, since they are a monopoly, deviating from the standard just ensures that people will use MS Word to view PDFs more than they will use the Acrobat Reader.[/b]

            Given Adobe gives their Acrobat Reader away for FREE - what's the big deal here? Reading a PDF isn't the issue.

            WRITING them, on the other hand, IS. Consider that Adobe gets $300 for the Standard version of Acrobat 7 to $450 for the Professional version. So when Microsoft decides to include the technology for writing PDFs into Office, that threatens their revenue stream. And THAT is the real 'why' Adobe is on the warpath.
            Wolfie2K3
          • SO what? Free enterprize?

            I really hate this gotta be fair stuff.

            So what? If Microsoft has a product the world wants then why stop them? If Adobe has an open source PDF and Microsoft wants to use it Huh? I really think thats unfair to say they can't use it cause they are microsoft! Wow Apple has been given money and help from Microsoft and they still are #2, it seems when it come to PC's it will be windows all the way forever, at least it has been for over 2 decades. I say a company who can't inovate and hack it in a free market place deserves to crumble, why do we always have to put up with less cause of being what some people call is fair? If you want fair then allow the gas prices to be the real price like in the rest of the world (double of what it is in the USA) then will you be happy? Hey It's fair!

            Remember there's Open Office ( I use it too) it has PDF exportable, hey wait a minute that's not fair!!!!!!!!!
            whuds1
      • Adobe's Position Is Weak

        [i]The fear from Adobe's point of view is that MS will introduce a "Click here to convert to PDF" now and a "Click here to convert to PDF and include some fancy stuff that will make your PDF work better - maybe even editable - with Word and not any other program" in the future. Given MS history of playing loose and fast with HTML, JavaScript and Java standards, to the point where they simply do not work if you use a MS product, I think Adobe is perfectly justified in their concerns.[/i]

        The problem with what you are saying, is that MS got into trouble with the DOJ and U.S. courts over trying to block technologies that competed with Windows ? namely Java and Netscape. The U.S. courts asserted that this behavior was an effort on MS? part to illegally maintain its monopoly. The Appeals court had no issue with MS embracing and extending Java in its monopoly case. It was in another case with Sun that the court took issue with MS embracing and extending Java, and MS being allowed to do so in light of an agreement it had with Sun. Therefore in the U.S., if MS has secret designs to embrace and extend the PDF, it would not be violating antitrust law.

        I don?t even see how MS is breaking antitrust law in Europe either. Assuming the European courts accept as antitrust behavior, the notion of a company leveraging its monopoly in one market to enter another with a competing technology, how does MS embracing and extending the PDF violate this law?

        At best Adobe has a weak argument concerning MS incorporating into Windows, XPS, which is a competitor of PDF. But it is hard to believe that the European courts will uphold the EC?s contention that this behavior in and of itself is anticompetitive, as this would mean once an OS reaches monopoly status, no new functions can be added to it, as it would probably affect some software company or individual programmer somewhere, foreclosing the possibility of that company?s / individual?s survival in the market place.
        P. Douglas
        • re: Adobe's Position Is Weak

          I dont Adobe will be successful in stopping XPS being added to windows - unless there is something technical that MS agreed in the anti-trust battle (lets leave that up to lawyers).

          Regarding the generation of PDF's from Word :
          Adobe doesn't want to stop it, it just wants to have it done in its own terms (ie, free download from Adobe). If they let MS generate the PDF the "additional" things it adds may not be readable by Adobe's free PDF reader. Then what? We'll have competing pdf's? If YOU were Adobe, YOU wouldn't let another company define your products.
          davidmartinomalley
          • No no no no no...

            [b]Regarding the generation of PDF's from Word :
            Adobe doesn't want to stop it, it just wants to have it done in its own terms (ie, free download from Adobe). If they let MS generate the PDF the "additional" things it adds may not be readable by Adobe's free PDF reader. Then what? We'll have competing pdf's? If YOU were Adobe, YOU wouldn't let another company define your products.[/b]

            It's NOT about Microsoft tweaking (and <gasp> possibly improving) PDFs in general. Adobe makes its money selling SOFTWARE - Namely Acrobat. The standard version is like $300 and the professional one is $450. (And we thought Microsoft was gouging everyone for Office! At least Office is a bit more than a one trick pony!)

            Should MS include PDF generation features into Office, there wouldn't be a need to shell out the big bucks to get Acrobat.

            Yes, you can get other PDF creation tools. And yes, some of them are free. Adobe even has an online PDF tool that's free to use. But none of them are as simple or elegant as clicking on File | Save As and changing the file type to PDF.

            As it stands, some of those aforementioned PDF generating plug-ins are already non standard - or are stuck in retro mode - where the PDFs being generated are either limited in some ways or generate an older, obsolete version of the PDF standard.
            Wolfie2K3
        • Translation for those in Rio Linda...

          [b]At best Adobe has a weak argument concerning MS incorporating into Windows, XPS, which is a competitor of PDF. But it is hard to believe that the European courts will uphold the EC?s contention that this behavior in and of itself is anticompetitive, as this would mean once an OS reaches monopoly status, no new functions can be added to it, as it would probably affect some software company or individual programmer somewhere, foreclosing the possibility of that company?s / individual?s survival in the market place.[/b]

          If Microsoft puts PDF support into Office 2k7, then there's no longer any need to buy Adobe Acrobat (standard or pro). Adobe loses revenue. Adobe might go broke.
          Wolfie2K3
          • True, but . . .

            "If Microsoft puts PDF support into Office 2k7, then there's no
            longer any need to buy Adobe Acrobat (standard or pro). Adobe
            loses revenue. Adobe might go broke."

            With all those FREE PDF generators for PC out there, I'm surprised
            Adobe hasn't already gone broke. I for one, use CutePDF writer with
            Office 2003 and it works like a charm -- and is FREE.
            999ad@...
  • So where is their side of the story???

    Is this it? "Adobe felt that power was being misused and impacting consumers in a negative way."

    Ummm, so being able to easily generate a PDF from within Office is a negative for users?

    Did this guy pass out from spinning that hard???
    No_Ax_to_Grind
    • Sounds like Java

      They feel Microsoft will try to destablize PDF like they tried to destablize Java by changing the specification.

      PDF is open as long as you adhere to the standard. Once you make a specification change you CANNOT call it a PDF.

      I get the sense from reading Mike Chambers' blog that Microsoft was trying to do this.

      Adding their own specifications to the PDF support in MS Office? Which in turn would require Microsoft to call it something other than PDF.

      Still sounds like the lawyers are keeping a tight rein on the information.

      The full picture will eventually emerge.
      dragosani
    • re:So where is their side of the story???

      They're not saying you can't export to PDF - they just aren't letting MS dictate the terms for doing so. MS readily admits that 5 minutes of time, and a quick download from Adobe and you can export to your hearts content!
      davidmartinomalley
  • MS Export to pdf

    I am sad to see that this is not going to be a reality in the next version of MS Office. I convert many word and excel document to pdf for distribution. I currently run win x64 and I have had nothing but trouble doing this. Also, if you have raid for storage, there too is another problem. I have applied the fix, but more errors. Adobe needs to get the house in order too.
    polar_bare