Adobe, Microsoft Offer Perspective On PDF Discussions [Updated]

The discussions between Adobe and Microsoft concerning the ability to export PDF out of Office 2007 have raised some questions, so TMO asked Adobe and Microsoft for their take on the situation. The negotiations between the two companies revolved around Adobeis request that Microsoft charge for the ability to create PDF documents from the Office suite applications, and Microsoftis unwillingness to do so.

Microsoft spokesperson Stacy Drake commented "Adobe has long claimed that PDF is an open standard and dozens of companies, including a number of our competitors, have implemented that standard, but Adobe insists we need to charge a price."

Microsoft offered to make the PDF export module available as a free download, instead of bundling it with the Office suite applications. Adobe saw that as a step in the right direction, but still wanted Microsoft to charge for the module - something Microsoft didnit want to do. Now Microsoft plans drop the ability to export files to PDF completely from both the Windows and Mac versions of the Office suite, according to a Microsoft spokesperson.

Ms. Drake stated "We have taken a number of significant steps to accommodate Adobe, and offered many proposals in an effort to avoid a dispute, but we have now reached a point where we feel what they are asking for is not in the best interest of our customers."

She also said that Microsoft offered to ship copies of Flash and Shockwave with each copy of Windows Vista, and plans to remove the Save as PDF and Save as XPS options from Office, as well as to give OEM PC manufacturers the option of removing XPS support from Vista. XPS is an XML-based document format that some see as a potential competitor to Adobeis PDF file format. Unlike PDF, however, XPS is a static document format and does not support the more dynamic feature that can be found in PDF.

Although Adobe doesnit comment on discussions with its customers, partners and competitors, the company did clarify that it has not made a determination as to whether or not it will take legal action against Microsoft.

The option of legal recourse is one of the avenues open to Adobe as the two companies work to resolve their differing views over the use of the PDF format. If Adobe were to take such action, it would likely be in the form of an antitrust suit in Europe.

In response to media speculation that Adobe is attempting to snub the functionality in Word, PowerPoint and Excel in order to protect Acrobat, a company representative commented "With regard to any discussions we have had with Microsoft about Office and Vista, our sole motivation is to maintain a fair, competitive landscape in the software industry. Any suggestions to the contrary are unfounded."

[This article has been updated with information from Microsoft and confirmation that PDF export support will be removed from the Mac version of the Office suite.]