Adobe (and PDF) a 'significant long-term threat' to Microsoft

December 01, 2003


In his article "What's behind Microsoft's Office moves?," David Becker of CNET News looks at possible motivations for Microsoft's recent announcement that it will soon begin allowing customers and partners to view the unique XML dialects -- aka "schemas" -- used in its primary Office 2003 applications. The company had initially resisted sharing the schema details, but according to Becker, relented in part in response to industry pressure -- especially from The European Union and various European governments.

Becker notes another growing threat to Microsoft's desires to maintain its position of dominance within large enterprises: Adobe's PDF. He writes:

"Rob Helm, an analyst for researcher Directions on Microsoft, said software publisher Adobe Systems may be seen as a more significant long-term threat by Microsoft. Adobe's push for businesses to broadly use its Portable Document Format to store and exchange business data could undercut the value of Office applications.

'Microsoft is fighting to keep Office as the standard archival format for documents ... and Adobe has begun to give Office a little bit of a scare on that front,' he said. 'If companies were to standardize on PDF, Office would become just one PDF authoring tool among many. It's a very long-term potential threat, but Microsoft can afford to look several steps ahead.'

Open XML support in Office helps counter any PDF threat by allowing free interchange of data between Office documents and back-end systems and by encouraging customers and partners to build services around Office, Helm said."

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