PDF In-Depth

OPINION: Clash of the Titans

Our take and conclusions


For Microsoft to back off so quickly, without having the matter tested in court -- European, American or otherwise -- is very interesting indeed. At this stage, there is clearly a desire to respond to the commercial demand for PDF creation functionality while not greatly upsetting Adobe (or an antitrust commission, for that matter). If it is a free download -- which Jones indicates it will be as of the time of writing -- we suspect there is a good chance that Adobe will call the lawyers again.

Just in: Adobe have provided a response to Planet PDF on their official position.

If the "Export to PDF" is removed from Office 12, will people adopt the use of XPS instead? Surely this is something on Adobe's mind; it has requested that this feature also not be "bundled" in with Office 12 and available only as a separate download (with a fee). This could make the XPS vs. PDF war more intense than we once thought.

We admit to being very surprised to read of this suit -- coming from a company which has introduced new features into the core Acrobat product which have obsoleted product features from vendors such as Enfocus, our own plug-ins division, ARTS PDF, and others. The difference is purely a matter of scale.

What's our take, at this stage, the matter seems far from being over. Will MS-built PDF creation in Office be free or not? Will it be available at all? What will be the extent of the functionality? Will Microsoft elect to pursue its own XPS format even harder now that it faces a challenge from Adobe on PDF?

Joe Wilcox of Microsoft Monitor Webblog has an interesting take on this whole story -- he sees that Adobe's side of the story has been noticeably absent from much of the writings on the web available at present for some obvious reasons. We'd encourage you to check out "There's More to This Story".

The news this week has delivered more questions than answers but it's clear the PDF game will continue to heat up as we count down to the Office 12 launch. In the meantime, the team down in San Jose might like to start looking at ways to build a more competitive product rather than sitting on their legal laurels.

Remember, the question hasn't been whether the basic PDF creation is going to end being free -- the question has always been when. There is a cavalcade of solutions out on the web for people looking from basic PDF printer drivers to more fully fledged Word to PDF converters. You can find most of them via a search in our PDF tools section at Planet PDF.

Will Adobe and Microsoft consider joining forces? The jury is still out.

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