Adobe: Watch Out Office, Here Comes The PDF

Recent improvements in Adobeis PDF technologies and applications are catapulting Adobe directly into Microsoftis way, according to a Forbes Magazine article. The battlefield? A more universal document format. Despite the fact that the PDF isnit anything new, recent Adobe software releases allow all sorts of documents, including all formats contained within the MS Office suite, to be converted to PDFs that can be read anywhere by Adobe Reader. Microsoft, on the other hand, cannot easily recreate its documents outside of confines of the Office applications. Couple that with the new "smart" forms features of the PDF, and Microsoft may see some direct competition that coming from a company they arenit used to. From the article:

[Adobe CEO Bruce] Chizen, who has been running the company since December 2000, has learned from past mistakes. Heis spent the last two years redesigning products, replacing sales staff and buying up smaller firms to gird Adobe for a new assault on the corporate market. The grand plan: Convince companies that every single document they produce should be turned into an Adobe PDF.

It used to be that a document created in Acrobat was the only thing that could become a PDF. Now, with Adobeis new software, a Word memo, an Excel spreadsheet, a Web site, a videoclip or a hybrid combination of all four formats can be converted to a PDF. Adobe has begun selling software that gives any of these documents the ability to be read by Adobe Reader, as well as tell company servers where to send itself, who can read it, who has made changes to it and what data within it should go into which part of the database. "The ubiquity of Reader means we can build more applications to take advantage of that platform," says Chizen. "Itis like what Microsoft has in Office."

Well, not quite. But at least Chizen is showing real chutzpah in stepping between Microsoft and its customers. Adobe has managed to get by for two decades without incurring the wrath of Redmond. Now Microsoft is paying attention. Its new electronic-forms product, InfoPath, is due out later this year with the next version of Office. Like Acrobat, it will use the Internet programming language XML to make forms more interactive but, in typical Microsoft fashion, InfoPath is designed to work within Office and doesnit read Adobe forms.

"Microsoftis view," says Chizen, "is that Office is the network, but if you want your document to be the network, it has to work across all platforms. Reader is universal."

More information can be found in the original article.