One option for governments wanting to standardize on open formats would be to use Microsoft products to create PDFs. Adobe's PDF format is generally considered open enough to address the concerns of governments. The process now is fairly cumbersome, but Microsoft had been looking at building PDF support directly into Office 2007.
Alas, negotiations between Microsoft and Adobe have broken down, AP reports. Instead, Microsoft has a great, new idea - really unheard of in Redmond circles - Microsoft's ... wait for it ... own, competing format. The new format is called XML Paper Specification, or XPS.
The issue, according to Microsoft lawyer David Heiner, is that Adobe wanted MS to charge for the ability to create either PDFs or XPS. Microsoft declined and decided to offer the PDF functionality as a free download.
But viewed from another perspective, the negotiations were about what it would take for Adobe to not sue Microsoft over the inclusion of XPS capabilities in Vista. Since the talks broke down, Microsoft expects Adobe to sue over the decision, perhaps in the EU.
In the closed-door discussions between the Microsoft and Adobe, Heiner said Adobe also raised concerns about new technology being built into the forthcoming version of Microsoft's Windows operating system that would let people save documents in Microsoft's competing XPS format.
Heiner said Microsoft agreed to let computer makers remove that functionality if they wanted to. Microsoft also offered to ship Adobe's free Acrobat Reader, which lets people view PDF documents, with the new version of Windows, called Vista. He said Adobe was considering that request. Microsoft had also offered to include a PDF creation tool.
In any case, no easy way to get from Office to PDF.