Closing an Open Window

Looks like Microsoft has another fight on its hands. Adobe, the company behind the popular PDF format, may sue Microsoft over use of that open document format.

For years Microsoft Office couldn't create PDFs in the same way that WordPerfect or Open Office could. The two companies had been in discussions to change that, according to the Wall Street Journal, but those talks broke down. Adobe wants Microsoft to remove the ability to save Office files as PDFs. It wants to offer that functionality for a separate fee. Microsoft reportedly agreed to do away with the PDF features, but refuses to charge extra for them.

Is this the downside of open standards? The ubiquity of the PDF format is what made it successful. Microsoft sees a successful format that millions are using and wants the Office suite to use it too. But by making PDF technology open to everyone, including Microsoft, Adobe may be losing out on potential sales of its Acrobat PDF-making software. Still, by taking this approach with Microsoft, Adobe is opening itself up to a public-relations hit and charges that it's applying a double standard.

What do you think? Should Microsoft have to pay Adobe for use of an open format? Should users have to pay for an otherwise open feature?

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7 Comments

  • Parsa Sepahi

    Yes this is funny, this can be done for free right now and it would be convenient for office to have that feature built in. Adobe needs to find other ways of improving its PDF maker for the product to survive by going beyond just making a pdf file.

  • Darcy McGee

    "PDF is an open format" is the same myth as "MP3 is an open format."

    Both are proprietary, owned and subject to patent restrictions. Both became so ubiquitous that collecting royalties is a complicated issue. Both have been reverse engineered by creative programmers.

    Unlike MP3, no real alternative to PDF has sprung up (AAC, Ogg Vorbis...the latter specifically created to work around the problems both financial and audio with MP3)

    Microsoft need only pay a licensing fee. For years, it's happened with Postscript.

  • Paavani

    I was going to comment something else BUT after reading Darcy McGee comment I got perplexed that what do I say.
    See, if PDF is not an open format then they could ask for anything relevant but definitely it should be valid for all either Microsoft, apple or whoever.

  • Darcy McGee

    Sigh. Journalism dies a little bit more every day.

    It's not an open format. It's a proprietary format. It wasn't even the only format of its kind, but Adobe was the 800 pound gorilla and won that fight at least 10 years ago.

    It has been reverese engineered to a point, and yes there are free PDF generators but these do not offer all of the features that PDF does.

    Yes Apple licenses PDF from Adobe, just as they licence PostScript (and NeXT licenced display Postscript prior to that.)

    Journalism dies a little more every day in the modern era.

  • Daniel

    It's intellectual property that belongs to Adobe. They should be able to do what they want with it. There is not constitutional guarentee of fairness in the U.S. Even if there were, constitutional and legal protections should only be available to those who are named in the constitution. Citizens. Corporations are not and cannot be considered citizens.

  • mike q

    Its a joke. There are free utilities that let you do this now. Why would I pay for the ability to do what I can do for free now. Building it into Office is a natural extension of the technology. If Adobe didnt want it to be used by everyone,(including Microsoft) then they should never have let anyone else use it....but then, no on would have....