Adobe really is being an A-grade ass when it comes to Microsoft's intention to integrate PDF output into Office 2007. Despite having encouraged everyone to develop software that can read and write PDF, it suddenly has a huge problem with Microsoft building it into Office.
Adobe really is being an A-grade ass when it comes to Microsoft's intention to integrate PDF output into Office 2007.
If you haven't caught wind of this story yet, here's a synopsis. Microsoft wanted to build PDF output into the new version of Office (2007, now in beta).
Adobe has been out there for years, very publicly encouraging anyone to make PDF readers/writers, to foster the adoption of PDF as the de facto industry standard for passing a document on to someone with formatting perfectly preserved.
Apple built PDF output into Mac OS X; OpenOffice has it; QuarkXPress, the only semi-viable competitor to Adobe Indesign, has it built in. All of these apps included PDF output without a peep of objection from Adobe.
Now, when Microsoft wants to build it into Office (which naturally threatens Adobe's sales of $500-per-seat licences for the full version of Acrobat to corporate customers) Adobe is finding that it suddenly has a very strong objection to Microsoft doing it.
Microsoft is, of course, not particularly interested in getting involved in another huge lawsuit over allegations of anti-competitive behaviour, so it has yanked a feature from Office that would have been incredibly useful to many people. Now it'll be a downloadable add-on for Office. And Adobe is still pushing hard for Microsoft to charge people for it rather than giving it away.
I'm the last person that would want to give Microsoft a free kick under any circumstances. I find it depressing that only about 13 per cent of browsers to apcmag.com use Firefox, despite its incredibly rich feature set compared to Internet Explorer 6. (No offence to the 63 per cent of you who choose to use IE... I just hope it is an informed choice rather than simply the default web browser on your computer.)
Microsoft's competitors had perfectly valid complaints about the tactics Microsoft used to ensure that absolutely every Windows user had a copy of Internet Explorer on their hard drive and that it was the default browser.
But Adobe is trying to have its cake and eat it. It has gone out and encouraged everyone to develop free PDF readers and writers. As a result, it has truly reaped the benefit of having PDF adopted as an industry standard. Frankly, Microsoft's upcoming "XPS" document format - a PDF competitor - doesn't really hold much of a hope of gaining much foothold for at least five years, when Vista adoption will be very broad. Adobe's software is seen as being the "gold standard" for PDF creation. Companies have built complex document workflows around it.
But now, when there's a risk that sales of Adobe Acrobat full version might drop a bit, Adobe suddenly wants to throw its weight around.
It's very simple: if Adobe wanted to keep selling licenses to the full version of Acrobat ad infinitum, it should simply have patented the technology and not allowed anyone to implement it. And it shouldn't have taken the free ride it got with the industry adopting it as a de facto standard. It can't have it both ways.