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?