|Adobe to Release PDF as ISO Standard|
Adobe, AIIM Make ISO Push for PDF:
|People with differing definitions of what makes an open standard truly "open" will still be able to argue about PDF until they're blue in the face, but moves made Jan. 29 by Adobe Systems and the Association for Information and Image Management will make PDF more closely resemble an open standard. |
With Adobe's blessing, the trade group plans to submit the entire PDF 1.7 file spec—the current version released with Acrobat 8—to the ISO (which, standards buffs will tell you doesn't stand for the obvious "International Standards Organization" but instead just refers to the Greek word for "equal"). The international standards cabal could approve PDF as a standard after a likely 15 to 30 months' worth of reviewing and refining.
This is particularly interesting insofar as, running a business, you are forced to archive your documents for a period of up to ten years, at least inmy country. The laws say, that for electronic documents of any kind you additionally have to make sure you still provide the hard- (!) and software to make your documents viewable after such a long period of time.
Adobe has been relatively constant and reliable in this respect anyways, but shifting towards an ISO standard would imply it suffices to archive the documents on a normal harddrive: the appropriate reader will be available "forever."
Microsoft will be releasing Vista and Office 2007 tomorrow. This is a huge threat to Adobe, as Microsoft's XPS is going to compete with PDF as a format.
It seems Adobe is trying to position PDF as a de jure standard as a defensive move (they say they are not doing that, but come on).
It's obviously a strategic differentiator. Microsoft is notorious for distributing products without defining file structures, for changing file formats without warning.... I'm surprised people haven't caught on more quickly that it's just flat dangerous to have any kind of important records in a Microsoft file format.
Now, Adobe has always been extremely good at defining file formats, at defining changes in file formats (and pretty good at maintaining backwards compatibility. But, again, small businesses often didn't have tech people that knew why that mattered.
Companies are always going to be looking for vulnerable points in the Redmond dinosaur. And with the massive costs of Vista (not just money, in hardware expenses, changed file formats and user interfaces), I think a lot of companies are going to realize that they need to take control of their own data. And that means giving up the Microsoft Kool-Aide, and putting that data in files that they can carry away from Redmond on alternative hardware.
The Microsoft Office monopoly may be more vulnerable now than at any time in years. It's time for everyone to be slicing at jugular veins or slashing at tendons or knobbling whatever's within reach.
Adobe has had years to open up the PDF format to standardization. They've only done so because Microsoft have the XML Paper Specification (XPS) [microsoft.com] built into Vista under a royalty-free copyright license. It's about time they did this. It's unfortunate that they had to be persuaded in this manner.
|This is a huge threat to Adobe, as Microsoft's XPS is going to compete with PDF as a format. |
It's only a huge threat if they ignore it. The monopolistic power of Microsoft has started to fade at an ever increasing rate; the deal with Novell shows that. Adobe has a good and very popular format; it's theirs to loose more than it's Microsoft's to take. By opening the standard their position should be safe for a while. That said, turnabouts can come very quickly, if there is a good reason.