No PDF in Office Could Mean More RIA Clout for Adobe

Could the move by Adobe to force Office 2007 to exclude the export to PDF feature be aimed at making sure Apollo and its Rich Internet Application strategy are intact? This move will require Vista users to download more Adobe software, giving them a better chance of penetrating Vista.

People are buzzing about the news that Microsoft expects Adobe to file an antitrust suit over the inclusion of "Export to PDF" in Office 2007. Joe Wilcox has the best analysis and ZDNet has a good overview of the story. Marc Orchant here at ZDNet also made mention of the hubbub. Despite all the exposure, a lot of people, myself included, are a bit confused. PDF is an open standard, and both MacOS and Open Office have options to export as PDF. PDF seems more like a commodity at this point than a proprietary technology. So what's going on? And how does this impact Rich Internet Applications?

I'm glad you asked. Some of this is going to be a reach, and I realize that, so I encourage you to take it with a grain of salt. I'm brining all of these up as discussion points rather than actual predictions. I think that Adobe is betting a lot on Apollo, the universal client that will bring together PDF, Flash and HTML. This technology is going to be a big part of their RIA strategy and Microsoft and WPF are the biggest threat to that. It seems possible that Adobe could wrap some significant PDF functionality into Apollo. But cutting of Microsoft and leaving everyone else be, the 90% of people using Windows will have some incentive to download Apollo and further Adobe's RIA agenda.

The other thing that struck me as interesting was that according to eweek Microsoft offered to bundle Flash and Shockwave with Vista in exchange for PDF functionality. Adobe obviously thinks that Flash stands on its own, and wasn't willing to cave on PDF in exchange for the market share that Vista ends up with. Because PDF is open, I would have thought this exchange would be a no-brainer.

In the end, I think this is Adobe standing up to what it sees as its fiercest competitor and Microsoft trying to paint Adobe as a bad guy while moving to make its XPS format more attractive. However, the analysts are happy and it will make a good portion of Vista users download more Adobe software. If that software is used to both deliver high powered RIAs and PDF, then it's a direct shot at Microsoft.


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