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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.
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."
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).
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.
This is a huge threat to Adobe, as Microsoft's XPS is going to compete with PDF as a format.