PDF In-Depth

The Trouble with Adobe Acrobat and Microsoft Office 2007

June 14, 2006

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The interesting if not troubling thing I've found after using the Microsoft Office 2007 beta is that Adobe Acrobat's PDF creation tools are now well and truly hidden away and hard to find. This creates multiple problems for Adobe: less people will successfully create PDFs, and more people will be asking, "Where did my 'Create PDF' button go?"

"... I would put a lot of effort into making it easy to update previous versions of Acrobat so people don't consider the alternatives."
Richard Crocker, Editor, Planet PDF

As it is, creating PDFs using Microsoft's tool seems to be the easier choice, but fortunately for Adobe, Microsoft will be removing its PDF creation tools from the final product. Unfortunately for Adobe, users really need to update their Acrobat product so PDF creation is still easy to do.

Dude, where's my Create PDF button?
Microsoft Word 2007 Beta. Dude, where's my "Create PDF" button?

The problem is that Microsoft has moved Office products (including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) from the old 'menus and toolbars' way of managing different tools to a new 'ribbon' style, which essentially combines menus and toolbars into the one element. The result is that Adobe's PDF creation tools have been relegated to the 'Add-Ins' folder--a long way away from the familiar 'Create PDF' toolbar buttons that usually sit right in front of us.

The conundrum for Adobe is that, even though users are no longer going to get 'free' PDF creation when they buy Office 2007, they are going to need to install an update to make PDF creation easy again, or risk a big support headache.

So, will users update their Acrobat product (including versions 5 and 6), or will they update their Office product with the tool Microsoft has said it will offer as a free download? It may well come down to whichever option is easiest for the user, and it may partly come down to how well the update or tool works. If I were Adobe, I would put a lot of effort into making it easy to update previous versions of Acrobat so people don't consider the alternatives.

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