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Microsoft Abandons PDF-Saving Feature

 10:07 am on Jun 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

Microsoft Corp. said it had canceled plans to include an automatic way to save documents in the popular PDF format in the next version of its Office software, amid a dispute with Adobe Systems Inc.

Instead, users who purchase Office 2007, due out in January, will have to download separate, free software to save Word, Excel and other Office documents as PDFs.

Microsoft Abandons PDF-Saving Feature [latimes.com]



 12:35 pm on Jun 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

What exactly do they mean by a "spat" with Adobe?

I am not surprised Adobe wanted to stop them, I am surprised they succeeded. How did they do it?


 2:12 pm on Jun 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

Don't know, but perhaps the dispute stems from Microsoft gunning for Adobe's PDF format? [news.com.com]


 2:57 pm on Jun 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

There are dozens of PDF conversion utilities on the market that seem to be OK with Adobe from an intellectual property standpoint. If these little guys were really infringing, I'd think Adobe would have gone after them long ago not because they cause any major financial pain but purely to protect their IP. And if these little guys can get away with it, one would think Microsoft could, too, if they really wanted to.

That makes the "push our own PDF-like format" scenario more likely.


 3:53 pm on Jun 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

Everyone is assuming that Adobe stopped Microsoft, which none of the articles state.

Another possibility is that Microsoft, true to long-standing strategy, wants to "encourage" conversion to the Metro format and the spat stems from that. As a result of a Metro/PDF spat, MS drops PDF and uses its still substantial presence to try to push Metro as a standard for the so-called "basic scenario" of document sharing and printing.

No idea if that's true, but it could be.


 4:14 pm on Jun 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

I doubt that Adobe has stopped them. PDF creation facilities are integral to many software suites, including the OpenOffice suite, most LaTeX distributions and numerous accounting packages.

It is probably more along the lines of Microsoft not liking something that wasn't designed by them and isn't controlled by them. Remember when they tried to displace javascript with active X (was that what it was called?)?


 9:20 pm on Jun 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

* Linux has been deployed in mission critical, commercial environments with an excellent pool of public testimonials. ... Linux outperforms many other UNIXes ... Linux is on track to eventually own the x86 UNIX market ...

* Linux can win as long as services / protocols are commodities.

* OSS projects have been able to gain a foothold in many server applications because of the wide utility of highly commoditized, simple protocols. By extending these protocols and developing new protocols, we can deny OSS projects entry into the market. Microsoft Internal Memo, aka Halloween [catb.org]

If in doubt, just refer to microsoft's own internal opinion about open source, open protocols, and open document formats. They know what they are doing and why. I'd assume the same reasoning lies behind their equally pointless new image compression stuff they have presented.

Pdf, jpg, png, are all by now very well established, basically universally supported, and work very well.

All this nonsense MS is doing is simply proof that the Halloween memos are not just a one off thing, but actually do represent one key component of how Microsoft is planning to battle open source and open standards, they've always tried that, though many people are not aware of some of the worst stuff they did, with no success luckily.

In other words, microsoft sees something on the horizon that they can't compete with directly, so they have to try to tie people into as many closed ms standards, protocols, etc as humanly possible.

If you follow the MS/europe stuff, server protocols are key in that, and MS is now fighting the penalty phase with everything they have.

This is just another attempt on their part to introduce more junk that keeps users hooked into ms. And it shows how weak MS really is now despite its overwhelming market dominance. I think they have looked into the future and have found that it won't support continuing year in and year out 30% profit margins made possible by near monopoly of the consumer desktop.

It's my guess that when the MS big boys talk to together, their biggest fear is becoming the next sun/ibm type company, once overwhelmingly dominant, now just another player. It's going to happen one day, they just want to avoid it as long as possible.


 1:52 am on Jun 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

OS X: choose Print for programs inc Word, and options include "Save as PDF".


 11:30 am on Jun 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

In OS X it is built into the operating system, not merely into programs like Word. Print to PDF works in every single program under OS X.


 4:39 pm on Jun 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

I may be mistaken here but isn't the only trademark Adobe has in regards to the PDF just the file ico that they have?

I really don't understand why they would have even involved Adobe to begin with, unless they wanted to use the PDF icon, which again is the only thing I can find that Adobe holds claim to in relation to the PDF file format. Anyone know why MS would have involved them in this at all?

For my clients who wish to have their website return dynamic data into a PDF I just use reportLab and that works fine for most plain text things with simple images. Seems like with OSX and other available tools MS is just catching up.


 5:16 pm on Jun 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

MS needs to deal with Adobe because Adobe created the PDF format. To the extent OO and others build in PDF compatibility, they do so on Adobe's terms.

From the WSJ:
Adobe Systems Inc. said it hasn't decided whether to file suit against Microsoft Corp., in a disagreement over the use of the ubiquitous PDF format

...Adobe, in a statement, said: "Adobe has made no determination to take legal action against Microsoft. Further, 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."

...The dispute raises questions over Adobe's policy regarding its PDF format, because the company publishes specifications for PDF files that companies use in a wide variety of products.

From Microsoft-watch:

Microsoft announced in October 2005 that it was building into Office 2007 a PDF export capability, following requests for such a feature by its customers.

...Microsoft was not planning to embed a PDF reader into Office 2007

...Microsoft added the PDF export capability due to widespread Office customer demand, and it appears Adobe intends to prevent Microsoft from addressing the demand (at least not without increasing the price of Office and, I assume, channeling part of that incremental revenue to Adobe).

..."it's perplexing that Adobe permits other vendors and organizations (e.g., Apple and OpenOffice.org) to publish PDF while Microsoft won't be permitted."


 5:28 pm on Jun 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

MS needs to deal with Adobe because Adobe created the PDF format. To the extent OO and others build in PDF compatibility, they do so on Adobe's terms.

I realize that they created the format, does that give them exclusive rights to it? I didn't think so but perhaps I was wrong.

The fact that they "allow" OS X, OpenOffice and many, many other applications to do this would seem to me that they have given up the rights... if they even had any, to use the PDF format.

Failure to protect your intelletual property can result in it becoming "public domain". You don't get to pick and choose who can violate and who can't, you have to regulate it's use or you have to let it go, you don't get to wait for deep pockets to come along and then decide you are going to enforce it's use becuase you see a payday.

I have looked and I can't find anything stating that Adobe has exclusive rights to create files in a PDF format. Does anyone know


 5:43 pm on Jun 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

I realize that they created the format, does that give them exclusive rights to it?

Yes, it does, as they hold the relevant patents. They are free to license the use of the technology in whatever manner they seem fit. If they want to charge OpenOffice nothing (or more likely $1) and then charge MS $1 billion (or simply bar them from using it), that is their choice.

There are several freeware and shareware utilities that let you create PDF files. I have always wondered why Adobe allowed them to keep going. Maybe they have just been waiting for one of them to add enough value to make it big - and then they will hit them up for royalties and penalties.


 6:42 pm on Jun 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

Yes, it does, as they hold the relevant patents.

I am not sure about this, there isn't a lot to patent and the main reason is that the technology is based on postscript which I believe is an Apple product or at least was and PostScript, I believe is under some type of GPL, I stand to be corrected on that. I just don't know how much they actually have a claim to, kind of like a SCO situation.


 10:41 pm on Jun 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

Open a copy of Adobe Acrobat reader. Then open the "About Adobe Reader x.x" on the "Windows" menu. This will list off a bunch of patents and copyright notices. The large block of patents at the top are held by Adobe. Here is the list I see with my version of the reader:

4,837,613; 5,050,103; 5,185,818; 5,200,740; 5,233,336;
5,237,313; 5,255,357; 5,546,528; 5,625,711; 5,634,064;
5,729,637; 5,737,599; 5,754,873; 5,781,785; 5,819,301;
5,832,530; 5,832,531; 5,835,634; 5,860,074; 5,929,866;
5,930,813; 5,943,063; 5,995,086; 5,999,649; 6,049,339;
6,073,148; 6,185,684; 6,205,549; 6,275,587; 6,289,364;
6,324,555; 6,385,350; 6,408,092; 6,411,730; 6,415,278;
6,421,460; 6,466,210; 6,507,848; 6,515,675

Some of these are specific to the reader itself. But many are for the PDF format and/or the implementation of that format. (these are U.S. patent numbers)


 1:47 am on Jun 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

Bearing in mind that ghostscript is released under GPL surely Microsoft could just incorporate ghostscript into Office and release the whole thing under GPL, neatly avoiding the licensing problem.


 3:51 pm on Jun 6, 2006 (gmt 0)


I did review some of those yesterday but all that jargen gets hard to read.

I can show you all the patent numbers that SCO has for a popular free OS, they haven't had much luck enforcing them and most are turning out to not hold water.

I think Adobe is in the same boat and that is why we haven't seen them actually try to enforce their patents yet. Time will tell.


 7:41 pm on Jun 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

sco's claims on owning those patents have almost all been rejected by the judge. That case was never real in the first place, it was a scam, in several different ways, which is why companies like ibm fought it so hard, and so successfully. SCO currently is basically hanging on by a thread, and will probably go bankrupt fairly soon. And microsoft got its monies worth from that investment in terms of spreading fud about linux.

This new adobe ms thing though is more interesting than it first appeared, adobe is taking a pretty big chance, since because they are now claiming that they have patentable control over the pdf format, which was recently accepted as an allegedly 'open' format by Massachussetts, if they continue with this they are going to seriously shoot themselves in the foot, since they are defacto declaring that pdf is not in fact an open format.

If it turns out that adobe does in fact have the right to bar anyone they want from using or implementing pdf, either for output or simple reading, then it of course is immediately not an open standard. Adobe can't have it both ways, they will have to make a clear decision on what they want.

This corporate software nonsense is getting more and more ugly as the companies fail to produce meaningful new products, and just keep trying to milk their old stuff for more and more cash. Bottom line: software patents stifle innovation, just like software patent opponents have said all along. That's getting increasingly obvious.

More interesting, in the UK right now a judge has accepted a case that may end up banning the legal right of anyone to patent software, especially methods/processes, which would be fantastic.

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