Microsoft vs. Adobe heats up

Joe Wilcox says "there's more to the story" this morning about Microsoft's breakdown in negotations with Adobe.

I've interviewed the Word team about its PDF support and it seemed pretty straightfoward to me. That team just wanted to add capabilities for our customers. I'm pretty sensitive to this stuff cause I've had Microsoft's gun aimed at my head and I want to make sure we're always behaving properly when it comes to partners.

I wish we could all get along better to make our customers lives better, but there's big dollars at stake here so understand Adobe's concern here. It always pains me to see a breakdown in communication with a partner, particularly one as valuable as Adobe.

Update: Brian Jones of the Office team gives his side of the story on his blog.

Comments

  1. Dude, first of all, to Adobe, Microsoft is enemy #1. Big partner too, but look at how many initiatives you have, that, if as successful as Ballmer wants them to be will gut Adobe. So let’s drop the idea that Microsoft is little Heidi milking goats at the base of the Jungfrau in this relationship. You’re going after PDF, you’re going after Flash, you’re going after quite a few things.

    Secondly, there are a lot of points that no one knows about yet. It’s not that you can’t have built – in PDF generation for free. Mac OS X proves that wrong. Every Mac OS X application gets free PDF generation. Since Mac OS X 10.3, you’ve had free Postscript to PDF via Preview.

    Outside of Mac OS X, there’s a dozen or more free PDF generators for Linux/Unix. There’s all kinds of free PDF generators on Windows too.

    So with the following facts in mind:

    1) Yes, Microsoft is an Adobe partner, but you’re also their number one and most active competitor in their core business

    2) Free PDF generation in the OS is not banned nor “unpossible”, as Mac OS X proves

    3) There’s a passle of facts that no one knows about

    For Microsoft to start with the “Poor us, Adobe’s being mean” is just fast and furious spin for the ignorant.

  2. Dude, first of all, to Adobe, Microsoft is enemy #1. Big partner too, but look at how many initiatives you have, that, if as successful as Ballmer wants them to be will gut Adobe. So let’s drop the idea that Microsoft is little Heidi milking goats at the base of the Jungfrau in this relationship. You’re going after PDF, you’re going after Flash, you’re going after quite a few things.

    Secondly, there are a lot of points that no one knows about yet. It’s not that you can’t have built – in PDF generation for free. Mac OS X proves that wrong. Every Mac OS X application gets free PDF generation. Since Mac OS X 10.3, you’ve had free Postscript to PDF via Preview.

    Outside of Mac OS X, there’s a dozen or more free PDF generators for Linux/Unix. There’s all kinds of free PDF generators on Windows too.

    So with the following facts in mind:

    1) Yes, Microsoft is an Adobe partner, but you’re also their number one and most active competitor in their core business

    2) Free PDF generation in the OS is not banned nor “unpossible”, as Mac OS X proves

    3) There’s a passle of facts that no one knows about

    For Microsoft to start with the “Poor us, Adobe’s being mean” is just fast and furious spin for the ignorant.

  3. The (in my opinion) excessive price of Acrobat (especially given the fact that most people don’t give a hoot about all the advanced functions and just want to print stuff as PDFs) has prompted a whole microindustry of free and almost free PDF writers.

    Best of breed in my opinion is the open source and free PDFcreator from http://sourceforge.net/projects/pdfcreator/ which is very userfriendly, very configurable and pretty slick.

  4. The (in my opinion) excessive price of Acrobat (especially given the fact that most people don’t give a hoot about all the advanced functions and just want to print stuff as PDFs) has prompted a whole microindustry of free and almost free PDF writers.

    Best of breed in my opinion is the open source and free PDFcreator from http://sourceforge.net/projects/pdfcreator/ which is very userfriendly, very configurable and pretty slick.

  5. It is right that miscommunications between partners is a pitty. But, in the business life, it seems that you are to be ready to be backstabbed by your partners even before your enemy.
    Someone says: “Take care of my enemy, I take care of my friends” or something like that.

    I don’t want to imagine the amount of money at stake there. But I know people (from whoever) are happy to criticize Microsoft because everyone else has at least an export option to PDF, nearly free of charge (Apple in the Operating System, OpenOffice, etc.)… And us, the guys using (and enjoying ;) ) Microsoft Office we have to buy (ie to pay) an extra to Adobe for something that the others have free? Someone was thinking about the consummers by Microsoft! ;)

  6. It is right that miscommunications between partners is a pitty. But, in the business life, it seems that you are to be ready to be backstabbed by your partners even before your enemy.
    Someone says: “Take care of my enemy, I take care of my friends” or something like that.

    I don’t want to imagine the amount of money at stake there. But I know people (from whoever) are happy to criticize Microsoft because everyone else has at least an export option to PDF, nearly free of charge (Apple in the Operating System, OpenOffice, etc.)… And us, the guys using (and enjoying ;) ) Microsoft Office we have to buy (ie to pay) an extra to Adobe for something that the others have free? Someone was thinking about the consummers by Microsoft! ;)

  7. There’s no way in hell Microsoft can compete with…Adobe. All you bastards have is Paint and Word, both shitty Applications.

    You’ll never have a PDF-killer. You’ll never have a Photoshop-killer. You can’t even get your damn Operating System to work properly. Hell, the people that worked on UNIX 30 years ago designed a better Operating System than Microsoft can, even in the year 2006! Un-fucking-believable.

    Fsck Microsoft.

  8. There’s no way in hell Microsoft can compete with…Adobe. All you bastards have is Paint and Word, both shitty Applications.

    You’ll never have a PDF-killer. You’ll never have a Photoshop-killer. You can’t even get your damn Operating System to work properly. Hell, the people that worked on UNIX 30 years ago designed a better Operating System than Microsoft can, even in the year 2006! Un-fucking-believable.

    Fsck Microsoft.

  9. Cody

    I visited your web site and saw the Abouut Me page. Says that your journey started at age 12, seems to me it ended shortly thereafter.

    Your comment reflects this in its attack oriented nature. What could have been an intelligent discussion has now devolved tinto a flame war based on fanaticism.

    Maybe MS will never build this “killer” or that “killer”, that has no bearing on their trying to bring convienece to the users of their software. As stated by others a function that is freely available from multiple sources.

    I don’t want to escalate this any further so I’ll leave it there. Please in the future take a moment to analyze how you present your position. Sometimes a honey is way better then vinegar;-)

    Bill

  10. Cody

    I visited your web site and saw the Abouut Me page. Says that your journey started at age 12, seems to me it ended shortly thereafter.

    Your comment reflects this in its attack oriented nature. What could have been an intelligent discussion has now devolved tinto a flame war based on fanaticism.

    Maybe MS will never build this “killer” or that “killer”, that has no bearing on their trying to bring convienece to the users of their software. As stated by others a function that is freely available from multiple sources.

    I don’t want to escalate this any further so I’ll leave it there. Please in the future take a moment to analyze how you present your position. Sometimes a honey is way better then vinegar;-)

    Bill

  11. Microsoft – Adobe: Much Ado About Nothing

    There is a lot of fuss  about  Adobe  blocking  Microsoft’s  plans to incorporate  "save to PDF" functionality in Office 2007.
    Much Ado About Nothing. Legally Adobe owns the PDF format, but it has long been openly available. 
    A li…

  12. Apple (of the companies that offer PDF support for “free”) and Adobe go way back.

    Before it became OS X, NeXT based it’s core graphics model on Postscript, which was licensed from Adobe. Display Postscript allowed applications to draw using a single API and send the results to either the screen or printer.

    When Apple purchased NeXT, they created their own graphics API, Quartz, to work around performance and licensing issues with Display Postscript. Mac OS X can print, read and write PDF documents because Quartz’s graphics model is very similar to PDF. However, Mac OS X supports only a subset of the most commonly used features of Adobe’s PDF standard. It’s not a official implementation.

    Why isn’t Microsoft trying to add PDF support to Windows Vista instead of just Office? I guess Microsoft’s concern for their customers doesn’t extend to those working with documents from applications other than Office.

    All Mac OS X applications get support for printing to PDF. It’s built into the Operating System. Cocoa developers can read and write from standard application views and images to PDF using the Quartz API. It’s built into the framework.

  13. Apple (of the companies that offer PDF support for “free”) and Adobe go way back.

    Before it became OS X, NeXT based it’s core graphics model on Postscript, which was licensed from Adobe. Display Postscript allowed applications to draw using a single API and send the results to either the screen or printer.

    When Apple purchased NeXT, they created their own graphics API, Quartz, to work around performance and licensing issues with Display Postscript. Mac OS X can print, read and write PDF documents because Quartz’s graphics model is very similar to PDF. However, Mac OS X supports only a subset of the most commonly used features of Adobe’s PDF standard. It’s not a official implementation.

    Why isn’t Microsoft trying to add PDF support to Windows Vista instead of just Office? I guess Microsoft’s concern for their customers doesn’t extend to those working with documents from applications other than Office.

    All Mac OS X applications get support for printing to PDF. It’s built into the Operating System. Cocoa developers can read and write from standard application views and images to PDF using the Quartz API. It’s built into the framework.

  14. As usual, John C. Welch, brings nothing to the table but anti-MS rhetoric. Either PDF is open or it isn’t. And if it isn’t, the governments like Mass shouldn’t pretend that it is.

  15. As usual, John C. Welch, brings nothing to the table but anti-MS rhetoric. Either PDF is open or it isn’t. And if it isn’t, the governments like Mass shouldn’t pretend that it is.

  16. I understand why Adobe is upset because this effectively kills the Acrobat market (unless Acrobat becomes an equal full fledged word processor). We had already made the decision to drop Acrobat as a purchase because of this functionality. (Acrobat Academic pricing is insane compared to MS). That being said, Adobe has dug its own hole in this. When the state of Massachusetts decided to drop MS Office but keep Acrobat, a lot of fuss by these two companies began. Adobe was kept because it kept within the State’s mandate for open formats. If Adobe blocks this move by MS then it’s not an open format and therefore should be excluded as well. What Adobe should do is go ahead and adopt the MS format as an option and play tit for tat, it appears Novell has already done so to a degree according to Brian Jones. What can be argued here is that MS took too long to create a product similar to Adobe Reader (and the office file viewers are not bundled together but only available as a seperate downloads).

  17. I understand why Adobe is upset because this effectively kills the Acrobat market (unless Acrobat becomes an equal full fledged word processor). We had already made the decision to drop Acrobat as a purchase because of this functionality. (Acrobat Academic pricing is insane compared to MS). That being said, Adobe has dug its own hole in this. When the state of Massachusetts decided to drop MS Office but keep Acrobat, a lot of fuss by these two companies began. Adobe was kept because it kept within the State’s mandate for open formats. If Adobe blocks this move by MS then it’s not an open format and therefore should be excluded as well. What Adobe should do is go ahead and adopt the MS format as an option and play tit for tat, it appears Novell has already done so to a degree according to Brian Jones. What can be argued here is that MS took too long to create a product similar to Adobe Reader (and the office file viewers are not bundled together but only available as a seperate downloads).

  18. I see Molly reads the news as well………unfortunately I missed her post before I sent mine off.

  19. I see Molly reads the news as well………unfortunately I missed her post before I sent mine off.

  20. “I understand why Adobe is upset because this effectively kills the Acrobat market”
    If Adobe won’t add more functionality to the thing such that its competitive advantage is that it is one of the few authoring tools for a file format, then they really don’t deserve to have a market? I absolutely loathe being tied into PDF myself, as it is the only “locked” format that I work with (plus I’m tired of apps displaying their goddamn splash pages; I just want to click something and start using it)

  21. “I understand why Adobe is upset because this effectively kills the Acrobat market”
    If Adobe won’t add more functionality to the thing such that its competitive advantage is that it is one of the few authoring tools for a file format, then they really don’t deserve to have a market? I absolutely loathe being tied into PDF myself, as it is the only “locked” format that I work with (plus I’m tired of apps displaying their goddamn splash pages; I just want to click something and start using it)

  22. I support Microsoft on this one. Export to PDF is pretty much standard and expected in any document application. Even we offer one with Zoho Writer http://zoho.com ;-) Adobe should be happy that PDF has become such a standard that even Microsoft is obliged to support it.

    I don’t believe Adobe will win much sympathy on this one, if they actually pursue their threat of an anti-trust lawsuit.

  23. I support Microsoft on this one. Export to PDF is pretty much standard and expected in any document application. Even we offer one with Zoho Writer http://zoho.com ;-) Adobe should be happy that PDF has become such a standard that even Microsoft is obliged to support it.

    I don’t believe Adobe will win much sympathy on this one, if they actually pursue their threat of an anti-trust lawsuit.

  24. I don’t claim to be knowledgeable about any of these matters. But I will say that I’m a Mac user, and I view the free PDF generation built into the OS to be one of the screaming advantages that Mac has over Windows / Office. I flaunt it in front of Windows users all the time.

  25. I don’t claim to be knowledgeable about any of these matters. But I will say that I’m a Mac user, and I view the free PDF generation built into the OS to be one of the screaming advantages that Mac has over Windows / Office. I flaunt it in front of Windows users all the time.

  26. Yes Molly, and you’re obviously still sore from your tattoo of ballmer’s face on your forehead. There, now that’s out of the way.

    The point is, for Microsoft to start with the “poor us” schtick is just spin on a stick. Like everything, there’s going to be Microsoft’s side of the story, Adobe’s side of the story, and somewhere in the middle is the truth, lonely and ignored.

    What Molly missed in my post, (not that i’m surprised, she seems to only care about making sure she’s earned her Windoid stripes on any given day) is that the fact that Adobe allows Apple to implement free PDF and distillation at the OS level makes it kind of hard for them to cry “foul” just because Microsoft wants to do it for Office. When you take into account that you can do this with Office:Mac *right now*, it looks even odder.

    The implication that Adobe is somehow “not allowing” the creation of PDFs from Office is ridiculous, as there are a dozen ways Microsoft could get around this. Therefore, logic states that there is something else in there that they don’t like, and that is the reason for this conflict. Since they have yet to articulate their side of the story, neither Microsoft OR Adobe – bashing is appropriate, since all the facts are not public yet.

    So with that in mind, again, for Microsoft to start with the “Poor us” bit, well, that’s just PR spin for the ignorant until all the facts are out. Who knows, maybe they will indeed support the “Poor us” pov, in which case, it will turn out to be correct. Stranger things have happened, and Bruce Chizen is a bit of a prat anyway.

  27. Yes Molly, and you’re obviously still sore from your tattoo of ballmer’s face on your forehead. There, now that’s out of the way.

    The point is, for Microsoft to start with the “poor us” schtick is just spin on a stick. Like everything, there’s going to be Microsoft’s side of the story, Adobe’s side of the story, and somewhere in the middle is the truth, lonely and ignored.

    What Molly missed in my post, (not that i’m surprised, she seems to only care about making sure she’s earned her Windoid stripes on any given day) is that the fact that Adobe allows Apple to implement free PDF and distillation at the OS level makes it kind of hard for them to cry “foul” just because Microsoft wants to do it for Office. When you take into account that you can do this with Office:Mac *right now*, it looks even odder.

    The implication that Adobe is somehow “not allowing” the creation of PDFs from Office is ridiculous, as there are a dozen ways Microsoft could get around this. Therefore, logic states that there is something else in there that they don’t like, and that is the reason for this conflict. Since they have yet to articulate their side of the story, neither Microsoft OR Adobe – bashing is appropriate, since all the facts are not public yet.

    So with that in mind, again, for Microsoft to start with the “Poor us” bit, well, that’s just PR spin for the ignorant until all the facts are out. Who knows, maybe they will indeed support the “Poor us” pov, in which case, it will turn out to be correct. Stranger things have happened, and Bruce Chizen is a bit of a prat anyway.

  28. You sound like such a hypocrite, once again. We know about Netscape. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are tons of other companies that MS has destroyed with its predatory practices.
    The introduction of the new image format. The constant FUD against OSS from the likes of Hilf and monkey boy. Even your Port 25 is a joke.
    I personally want Adobe to win this one.

    @Keith Since you are being the cheer leader, why don’t you ask MS to open up their source code too. Its a crappy product sustained only by lock-in.

    @Molly C You still sound like the same illogical shill that you sounded like a few posts back.

  29. You sound like such a hypocrite, once again. We know about Netscape. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are tons of other companies that MS has destroyed with its predatory practices.
    The introduction of the new image format. The constant FUD against OSS from the likes of Hilf and monkey boy. Even your Port 25 is a joke.
    I personally want Adobe to win this one.

    @Keith Since you are being the cheer leader, why don’t you ask MS to open up their source code too. Its a crappy product sustained only by lock-in.

    @Molly C You still sound like the same illogical shill that you sounded like a few posts back.

  30. H: I well know Microsoft's history too, which is why I'm sensitive to what the team is trying to do.

    I look at it from a customer's standpoint. If I see a team doing something that improves our customers lives then I'm going to be happy.

    If a team does something just to hurt another company, then I'm not and I'll say that here.

    Did you know about some of the things we offered Adobe because we consider them a valuable partner and want to keep them happy?

    Here's a few:

    o We are planning to remove Save as PDF, as well as Save as XPS, from Office 2007 and make both available only as a separate download
    o We will give OEMs the option to remove XPS from Windows
    o We have offered to ship Adobe’s Flash and Shockwave software with every copy of Windows Vista worldwide

    By the way, there's a lot of us working at Microsoft who didn't like Microsoft's past behaviors (did you read my writing from earlier in my career? I argued that Microsoft should have been broken up). But, at some point we need companies to get together and say "how do we improve our customer's lives?"

  31. H: I well know Microsoft's history too, which is why I'm sensitive to what the team is trying to do.

    I look at it from a customer's standpoint. If I see a team doing something that improves our customers lives then I'm going to be happy.

    If a team does something just to hurt another company, then I'm not and I'll say that here.

    Did you know about some of the things we offered Adobe because we consider them a valuable partner and want to keep them happy?

    Here's a few:

    o We are planning to remove Save as PDF, as well as Save as XPS, from Office 2007 and make both available only as a separate download
    o We will give OEMs the option to remove XPS from Windows
    o We have offered to ship Adobe’s Flash and Shockwave software with every copy of Windows Vista worldwide

    By the way, there's a lot of us working at Microsoft who didn't like Microsoft's past behaviors (did you read my writing from earlier in my career? I argued that Microsoft should have been broken up). But, at some point we need companies to get together and say "how do we improve our customer's lives?"

  32. No one’s saying that you’re not being honest Robert. But we’ve still only heard one side of this story, and until we hear both sides, we cannot make an informed conclusion.

  33. No one’s saying that you’re not being honest Robert. But we’ve still only heard one side of this story, and until we hear both sides, we cannot make an informed conclusion.

  34. [...] Adobe again At the community leaders day I was telling one of the attendees that my sister was a Professor of computer science so I wasn’t even the top Geek in my own family. I know how Ralf Schumacher feels. It was a good day. The open source guy who spoke at the end was really worth hearing, and came out with the memorable quote “Scoble has done more for Microsoft’s image than Bill Gates ever will”. Who says this blogging business is a waste of time ? When I got home there was a post from Scoble and mail from my sister on the same subject. My the serendipity fairy has been busy today. My sister who’s no Microsoft fan, is quite happy to build PDF processing tools for the Mac was pretty scathing about Adobe. Mary-Jo Folly has the full story (which stems from a New York Times subscriber only story) This is what the fuss is about. Now: Office 2003 introduced print to MDI (Microsoft Document Image) format – think TIF with OCR, so it cracks PDF files which prevent copy – e.g the schedule sent my Microsoft UK’s travel agent.Windows Vista has print to XPS (XML paper spec. ) – think open, XML alternative to PDF. Office 2007 has Save or Publish to PDF. It’s the first time Microsoft have supported PDF, though it has been a top customer request for years. We could – I guess – have supplied a print to PDF driver which would have allowed ANY application to create PDF. Adobe have a dominant position in the supply of PDF creation tools for the PC , Adobe have been quite happy for other software companies – including Microsoft competitors like Word Perfect and Open Office – to have PDF output. The key attraction of the format is that it is open, so I find it’s interesting to see reports say they’re playing the “We can’t compete” card that is Anti-trust, to prevent a new entrant supplying competing tools to consumers. Supposedly they tried to negotiate with Microsoft for PDF support to be a chargeable upgrade, but our reluctance to let others tell us what we can or can’t put it software suggests that can’t have been a realistic starting point. Brian Jones suggests that it will be free download as a compromise, but as he says Adobe seems to be saying that PDF is actually not open (or that it is open for some, but not for others). This is a huge problem Over in the world of digital photography (where Adobe photoshop is dominant) Adobe are promoting a “digital negative” format – DNG for the storage of raw images – that is data from the camera’s sensor which hasn’t been turned into a TIF or JPG. Current raw files don’t just vary between camera makers – they change with each model and standards would be great, but who’s going to adopt a standard which is “Open until adopted by someone who we find threatening” ? If this does cause enmity between Microsoft and Adobe then web users might benefit. How so ? On that page of Mary-Jo’s there is a great steaming flash turd. It’s what Jacob Nielsen terms bad Flash with no purpose beyond annoying people: read his most hated techniques in Web Advertising and you’ll see that flash is the implementation vehicle of choice for most of them. Flash is now an Adobe technology. And whose products were being advertised with a really annoying bit of flash on Mary-Jo’s page. Take a wild guess …. Microsoft’s. If this means a blanket ban on flash on any Microsoft site, or ad I’d be delighted. Published Saturday, June 03, 2006 1:57 AM by jamesone [...]

  35. o We have offered to ship Adobe’s Flash and Shockwave software with every copy of Windows Vista worldwide

    Scoble, I hope MSFT is planning to ship Adobe Flash Player and not the Flash software :)

  36. o We have offered to ship Adobe’s Flash and Shockwave software with every copy of Windows Vista worldwide

    Scoble, I hope MSFT is planning to ship Adobe Flash Player and not the Flash software :)

  37. Dear Mr. Welch, Adobe does not allow anyone to freely support PDF. Their instance is actually “anyone that does not threaten our revenue stream of selling PDF-creation software is free to implement PDF support”. That’s why software with minimal market penetration such as Mac OS and Open Office can get away with it.

    PDF as a standard is now dead. Thanks Adobe.

  38. Dear Mr. Welch, Adobe does not allow anyone to freely support PDF. Their instance is actually “anyone that does not threaten our revenue stream of selling PDF-creation software is free to implement PDF support”. That’s why software with minimal market penetration such as Mac OS and Open Office can get away with it.

    PDF as a standard is now dead. Thanks Adobe.

  39. [...] It’s all very confusing. Joe Wilcox wrote up a good take at Microsoft Monitor on what was reality compared to the various claims being tossed around the media circuit. Brian Jones, a PM on the Office team, has a writeup on what’s going on from his side of the fence. There’s a Channel 9 interview with the Office team developer who created the feature (from back in January). Heck, even Scoble got his say on things (which doesn’t surprise me as that blogging machine doesn’t seem to sleep). [...]

  40. Anybody else think that the pdf support announcement was a subterfuge to push Metro? Of course Adobe would be pissed, giving Microsoft the rationale to push their own closed format.

  41. Anybody else think that the pdf support announcement was a subterfuge to push Metro? Of course Adobe would be pissed, giving Microsoft the rationale to push their own closed format.

  42. hmmm…someone brought up that it’s creating *structured* PDFs that could be the problem. That’s something that Mac OS X doesn’t do. It just creates a flat PDF file. If that’s what’s allowed for free, then there could be some problems with Office offering *structured* PDF.

  43. hmmm…someone brought up that it’s creating *structured* PDFs that could be the problem. That’s something that Mac OS X doesn’t do. It just creates a flat PDF file. If that’s what’s allowed for free, then there could be some problems with Office offering *structured* PDF.

  44. @17. Scoble, you can’t be that naive (I say, rhetorically, because each day I wonder if you are). Microsoft is not doing this to “improve customer’s lives”. They are adding PDF support in the hopes that it will SELL more Office 2007 and be another checkbox feature they can point to for people to upgrade. That’s the sole motivation. Let’s be honest. They know the are competing with themselves with Office 95, Office XP, and Office 2003. Customers lives are already improved with Office. I rather doubt adding PDF support is going to improve it all that much. If there was HUGE demand for PDF support they would have done it years ago. As John C. Welch points out, Apple has been doing this for a while now. MS couldn’t have been ignorant of that.

    Repeat after me: “Microsoft is in business to make money” If you believe anything otherwise..like “building great software..” (I offer Vista as Exhibit A..) or “changing the world”, or playing nice with others, you are dillusional.

  45. @17. Scoble, you can’t be that naive (I say, rhetorically, because each day I wonder if you are). Microsoft is not doing this to “improve customer’s lives”. They are adding PDF support in the hopes that it will SELL more Office 2007 and be another checkbox feature they can point to for people to upgrade. That’s the sole motivation. Let’s be honest. They know the are competing with themselves with Office 95, Office XP, and Office 2003. Customers lives are already improved with Office. I rather doubt adding PDF support is going to improve it all that much. If there was HUGE demand for PDF support they would have done it years ago. As John C. Welch points out, Apple has been doing this for a while now. MS couldn’t have been ignorant of that.

    Repeat after me: “Microsoft is in business to make money” If you believe anything otherwise..like “building great software..” (I offer Vista as Exhibit A..) or “changing the world”, or playing nice with others, you are dillusional.

  46. Still trying to sort all this out, but one’s things for sure, yet “Another Fine Mess” for Microsoft. Keep your spit fights under wraps, hammer out something, get an agreement, and be friendly, don’t torpedo via the press and the snippy bloggers. Public Relations nightmare de jour, but then I guess, par for course and just another day at Microsoft.

    Public sparring over this, and nearly a dozen past happenings, just gives the impression that it’s impossible to rationally deal with Microsoft on any level. Which I suspect is really the actual truth. Reverse Dale Carnegie playbook, and expensive too, given the army of lawyers and never-ending lawsuits. The Evangelists and the fluff Bunny bloggers are trying to preach that things are different, but then you look at the actuall evidence, and none of the vaporware yabber talk makes much difference.

  47. Still trying to sort all this out, but one’s things for sure, yet “Another Fine Mess” for Microsoft. Keep your spit fights under wraps, hammer out something, get an agreement, and be friendly, don’t torpedo via the press and the snippy bloggers. Public Relations nightmare de jour, but then I guess, par for course and just another day at Microsoft.

    Public sparring over this, and nearly a dozen past happenings, just gives the impression that it’s impossible to rationally deal with Microsoft on any level. Which I suspect is really the actual truth. Reverse Dale Carnegie playbook, and expensive too, given the army of lawyers and never-ending lawsuits. The Evangelists and the fluff Bunny bloggers are trying to preach that things are different, but then you look at the actuall evidence, and none of the vaporware yabber talk makes much difference.

  48. @dmad

    Yes, Microsoft is in the business to make money and before customers are willing to give them any money, they need to satisfy their demands and make them happy. So it can be argued that Microsoft, like any other business, is here to make people happy because that’s the only way a business can make money. You think MS would have added PDF support if the result is that customer will get pissed instead? You think MS would make money by making crappy software? I know many would probably attack to that point and immediately say that MS does make crappy software but those that do are too blinded by ideology and consequently have no clue about the actual metrics that define good software. It’s good software if they give what people want. Bloat and similar metrics are completely irrelevant because most customers really don’t care.

  49. @dmad

    Yes, Microsoft is in the business to make money and before customers are willing to give them any money, they need to satisfy their demands and make them happy. So it can be argued that Microsoft, like any other business, is here to make people happy because that’s the only way a business can make money. You think MS would have added PDF support if the result is that customer will get pissed instead? You think MS would make money by making crappy software? I know many would probably attack to that point and immediately say that MS does make crappy software but those that do are too blinded by ideology and consequently have no clue about the actual metrics that define good software. It’s good software if they give what people want. Bloat and similar metrics are completely irrelevant because most customers really don’t care.

  50. @28 agreed to a point, but are you telling me there was no demand for saving files to PDF format when Office 2003 came out? I find that extremely hard to believe. MS was drug to supporting the PDF “standard”. They didn’t do it to be nice. they did it to try to remain relevant and competitive. “Making users lives easier” was way down on the list. Otherwise, the would they would have done it much sooner. Again, afterall, Apple has been supporting it for quite a while now. Before OpenOffice started being more prominent I imagine MS would have been content not even playing the PDF game, or the XML file format in Office game, either. Don’t tell me they did that to make users lives easier, too. Go sell crazy somewhere else.

  51. @28 agreed to a point, but are you telling me there was no demand for saving files to PDF format when Office 2003 came out? I find that extremely hard to believe. MS was drug to supporting the PDF “standard”. They didn’t do it to be nice. they did it to try to remain relevant and competitive. “Making users lives easier” was way down on the list. Otherwise, the would they would have done it much sooner. Again, afterall, Apple has been supporting it for quite a while now. Before OpenOffice started being more prominent I imagine MS would have been content not even playing the PDF game, or the XML file format in Office game, either. Don’t tell me they did that to make users lives easier, too. Go sell crazy somewhere else.

  52. @Fernando: dead as a standard? Go to Adobe, download the specification, read the agreement, build your own tool implementing it.

    THIS IS NOT THE PROBLEM. Why doesn’t anyone get that this is the old Microsoft all over again? The problem is not PDF support. The problem is Microsoft

    - bundling yet another feature to take on a competitor, just the same thing as IE and Windows Media Player. In _both_ cases a court decided that this bundling was monopoly abuse.

    - establishing yet another me-too, Windows-only standard just like they did with .NET vs. Java. First they pollute the existing standard (like Java), then they popularize the Windows-only solution (.NET / whatever-product-this-week)

    Why are some people so ignorant that they ignore this pattern? This is such a cheap, simple trick.

  53. @Fernando: dead as a standard? Go to Adobe, download the specification, read the agreement, build your own tool implementing it.

    THIS IS NOT THE PROBLEM. Why doesn’t anyone get that this is the old Microsoft all over again? The problem is not PDF support. The problem is Microsoft

    - bundling yet another feature to take on a competitor, just the same thing as IE and Windows Media Player. In _both_ cases a court decided that this bundling was monopoly abuse.

    - establishing yet another me-too, Windows-only standard just like they did with .NET vs. Java. First they pollute the existing standard (like Java), then they popularize the Windows-only solution (.NET / whatever-product-this-week)

    Why are some people so ignorant that they ignore this pattern? This is such a cheap, simple trick.

  54. In other words: Apple is also bundling a browser and a media player with their operating system. Why is that not a problem if WinIE and WiMP are a problem? Because Microsoft is / has been actively abusing a monopoly whereas Apple hasn’t. Simple as that.

  55. In other words: Apple is also bundling a browser and a media player with their operating system. Why is that not a problem if WinIE and WiMP are a problem? Because Microsoft is / has been actively abusing a monopoly whereas Apple hasn’t. Simple as that.

  56. @John C. Welch: I’m pretty confident that the “structured PDF” argument is not valid. I have played around quite a lot with various versions of the PDF standard and the license you accept for implementing part of the specification or the full spec is extremely liberal. In fact, the license even allows you to implement solutions that read and / or modify PDF files, something a “save as…” doesn’t do. You can even get tools from third parties with Javascript and Forms support and all the other fancy stuff that’s in there.

    In fact, everyone who really uses Acrobat will have a good laugh at what Microsoft is coming up with. However, all the casual users will be presented with yet another Windows-only standard for these documents whereas PDF is available on virtually every platform and allows you to implement tools for supporting it without paying any royalties on any platform (even pure Java – see iText, PDFBox, Apache FOP et al.)

  57. @John C. Welch: I’m pretty confident that the “structured PDF” argument is not valid. I have played around quite a lot with various versions of the PDF standard and the license you accept for implementing part of the specification or the full spec is extremely liberal. In fact, the license even allows you to implement solutions that read and / or modify PDF files, something a “save as…” doesn’t do. You can even get tools from third parties with Javascript and Forms support and all the other fancy stuff that’s in there.

    In fact, everyone who really uses Acrobat will have a good laugh at what Microsoft is coming up with. However, all the casual users will be presented with yet another Windows-only standard for these documents whereas PDF is available on virtually every platform and allows you to implement tools for supporting it without paying any royalties on any platform (even pure Java – see iText, PDFBox, Apache FOP et al.)

  58. Ralph, didn’t say that was the reason.

    What needs to happen is for everyone to calm the hell down until both sides of the story come out. Right now, we don’t have that, so all we have is speculation right now.

  59. Ralph, didn’t say that was the reason.

    What needs to happen is for everyone to calm the hell down until both sides of the story come out. Right now, we don’t have that, so all we have is speculation right now.

  60. @dmad

    I really don’t know much about the historical demand for PDF. It’s conceivable that this demand is something rather recent especially given that the ISO specification for PDF/A was published in 2005 and the movement for the demand for an open format is also recent. Since the last Office was released in 2003, I am not surprised that PDF support is only added now. In fact when Microsoft refers to demand for PDF output, they are probably referring specifically to Massachusetts and other governments/organizations that have been recently clamoring for open formats. In other words, the addition of PDF and Open XML are definitely the result of customer demand, which was probably nonexistent prior to the release of Office 2003, so my point still stands.

  61. @dmad

    I really don’t know much about the historical demand for PDF. It’s conceivable that this demand is something rather recent especially given that the ISO specification for PDF/A was published in 2005 and the movement for the demand for an open format is also recent. Since the last Office was released in 2003, I am not surprised that PDF support is only added now. In fact when Microsoft refers to demand for PDF output, they are probably referring specifically to Massachusetts and other governments/organizations that have been recently clamoring for open formats. In other words, the addition of PDF and Open XML are definitely the result of customer demand, which was probably nonexistent prior to the release of Office 2003, so my point still stands.

  62. I should have also added that I never said that Microsoft did this to make people’s lives easier or they were being nice. If customers want their lives harder (increased security in Windows XP SP2 and Vista for example), Microsoft will do that for them too. All I am saying is that Microsoft did it because that’s what their customers wanted and the only way they can sell their product is by giving them what they want and making them happy.

  63. I should have also added that I never said that Microsoft did this to make people’s lives easier or they were being nice. If customers want their lives harder (increased security in Windows XP SP2 and Vista for example), Microsoft will do that for them too. All I am saying is that Microsoft did it because that’s what their customers wanted and the only way they can sell their product is by giving them what they want and making them happy.

  64. Wym, you really need to do some research on PDF, it’s everywhere. The US IRS is using fillable PDF for tax forms, the USPTO is using it, many states are all about it too. It’s cross-platform, self-contained, programmable, securable, and quite hard to modify when certs are used.

    There’s very little else that even comes close to what PDF can do.

  65. Wym, you really need to do some research on PDF, it’s everywhere. The US IRS is using fillable PDF for tax forms, the USPTO is using it, many states are all about it too. It’s cross-platform, self-contained, programmable, securable, and quite hard to modify when certs are used.

    There’s very little else that even comes close to what PDF can do.

  66. Scoble said “If I see a team doing something that improves our customers lives then I’m going to be happy.”.

    It’s an easy excuse Mr Scoble, too blatant easy.
    If customers really matter, then why isn’t PDF natively supported since Office 97? Back then, PDF already had a huge install base.

    Oh, I know the answer on that one. The MS PR guys ask you to say “we lack resources”. Yes, I have read somewhere that there is over 1000 employees in the Office team…

    And, for the record, I did write a native PDF generator. It’s a 3-week job for a single person, just in case you’d like to measure the cost of things.

    Scoble said “We are planning to remove Save as PDF, as well as Save as XPS, from Office 2007 and make both available only as a separate download”.

    If your customers matter, I’ll guess you’ll make this free download available to ALL Office versions, not only Office 2007, right?

    Come on, Scoble, this subject has way too much politics and back-channels for you to come and stand up with such obtu statements.

  67. Scoble said “If I see a team doing something that improves our customers lives then I’m going to be happy.”.

    It’s an easy excuse Mr Scoble, too blatant easy.
    If customers really matter, then why isn’t PDF natively supported since Office 97? Back then, PDF already had a huge install base.

    Oh, I know the answer on that one. The MS PR guys ask you to say “we lack resources”. Yes, I have read somewhere that there is over 1000 employees in the Office team…

    And, for the record, I did write a native PDF generator. It’s a 3-week job for a single person, just in case you’d like to measure the cost of things.

    Scoble said “We are planning to remove Save as PDF, as well as Save as XPS, from Office 2007 and make both available only as a separate download”.

    If your customers matter, I’ll guess you’ll make this free download available to ALL Office versions, not only Office 2007, right?

    Come on, Scoble, this subject has way too much politics and back-channels for you to come and stand up with such obtu statements.

  68. Yes, PDF has all that stuff, Great! But can you really prove that there was significant demand for PDF output in Office back in 2003 (perhaps 2002 when Office 2003 was being developed). The huge demand for PDF is fairly apparent now since open formats are supposedly the hippest idea in town. I honestly can’t say for sure but from my experience with PDF and Office I am inclined to believe that the answer is no.

    Because the IT industry is rather inept when it comes to changes, superior technology do not always gain acceptance immediately so it really doesn’t matter that PDF has been a superb solution to portable document creation for a long time.

  69. Yes, PDF has all that stuff, Great! But can you really prove that there was significant demand for PDF output in Office back in 2003 (perhaps 2002 when Office 2003 was being developed). The huge demand for PDF is fairly apparent now since open formats are supposedly the hippest idea in town. I honestly can’t say for sure but from my experience with PDF and Office I am inclined to believe that the answer is no.

    Because the IT industry is rather inept when it comes to changes, superior technology do not always gain acceptance immediately so it really doesn’t matter that PDF has been a superb solution to portable document creation for a long time.

  70. @34-35. Uh… PDF has been around for quite some time.
    And Office:mac 2004 has it. Are you saying those same customers didn’t want it for Windows Office? Anyway, you can categorize it as customer demand. I think it more competitive pressure. If MS had not lost the Mass. bid they wouldn’t have even bothered going down this path. They would have told their customer base “Let them eat cake”. Which they had been doing with previous versions of Office regarding file formating. (Again, Office 95 upgrade fiasco anyone? Were users clamoring for incompatible file formats when going from one version to another?)

    I apologize though. It was not you that said it was “to make customers lives easier”..it is Scoble that believes the motives are altruistic.

  71. @34-35. Uh… PDF has been around for quite some time.
    And Office:mac 2004 has it. Are you saying those same customers didn’t want it for Windows Office? Anyway, you can categorize it as customer demand. I think it more competitive pressure. If MS had not lost the Mass. bid they wouldn’t have even bothered going down this path. They would have told their customer base “Let them eat cake”. Which they had been doing with previous versions of Office regarding file formating. (Again, Office 95 upgrade fiasco anyone? Were users clamoring for incompatible file formats when going from one version to another?)

    I apologize though. It was not you that said it was “to make customers lives easier”..it is Scoble that believes the motives are altruistic.

  72. The fact that PDF has been available for a while is irrevelant. Back then there were virtually no features that PDF had that doc didn’t have that really mattered.

    As for why Office Mac 2004 has PDF output support and why Office 2003 doesn’t, there’s probably an interesting story behind it.

    Consider this interesting story behind the incompatible file formats issue.

    ——–
    http://blogs.msdn.com/chris_pratley/archive/2004/04/28/122004.aspx

    So, file formats. Here’s the deal. In the 80s and early 90s, every time (nearly) that a new version of a product came out (1-2-3, WordPerfect, etc), the standard deal was that the new version had a new file format. This was a no-brainer and was considered normal and acceptable by the market. The product had new features that the old one didn’t understand, and you ran these things on standalone machines that had no network, so as long as the new version could read your old files, you were golden. You almost never had to send a file to someone else electronically – you printed it. Innovating meant a new file format.

    So, this was the tradition, and generally applications followed it. Word6 had a new file format compared to Word2, as was normal. Then Word95 came out – it was a 32-bit port of Word6 with only a few new features (although it had my all-time favorite – background red-squiggle spelling), and none of these affected the format, so it wasn’t changed. Word97 was started in 1994 at the same time as Word95, and almost the first thing that was done was the routine change of file format to accommodate some of the big plans we had (Unicode support being a huge one). Something really big happened in 1995 though – the internet, email, and Windows95. Suddenly everyone was getting a computer to access the internet, do email, and/or to experience the “wonder” that was Win95, since that had been such a big deal. PCs were becoming mainstream and were spreading everywhere. Corporations were deploying them in huge numbers. Another development was accelerating – LANs, and WANs – so electronic copies of documents could be shared inside companies much more easily.

    Around the beginning of 1996, well past “code complete” for Office97, we started to realize that the world had changed. Word6 had been sold into a market of about 10 million consisting of pretty techy users with few interconnections except via floppy disk (“sneakernet”), and it was the “challenger” product, so the installed base or older versions was small. Word95 had been unnoticed since it had the same file format, but it was widely adopted – not as much as Word 6 though. Word97 was going into a market of about 50 million, and Word was now “the standard”. We quickly tried to do something about the impending problem, but it was really too late. We had to ship without the ability to save the old binary format of Word6 (there is only one binary save path in Word and it is quite baked in), and of course we couldn’t go back to the old format since it would mean removing most of the improvements: all the new graphics, international support, etc, not to mention a huge delay. We started a crash project to build a “downrev save” converter to the old binary format using Word95 as a base, but that wasn’t ready at launch. Thus was born a legion of conspiracy theories about our “true” motivation for changing the file format.

    The reality of that was that customers were pretty dissatisfied, and wouldn’t buy the new version. Sales stalled at first, and we made a rule that the next versions of Office had to save in a format that was compatible with 97. We could still add new features, but whatever they were, they had to fit in the old format. This is why Word97, Word2000, Word2002, and Word2003 all use the same binary format. Fortunately we had those last few months to add some bits to the 97 format that made it possible to add things in the future that the old versions of Word would ignore politely, but sticking with the same format for the last 8 years (Word97 shipped in 1996) has put a significant crimp in our style. There is a corresponding claim that circulates the net that says we change the format “every release”. Since we bend over backwards not to do this, that one always makes me chuckle.

  73. The fact that PDF has been available for a while is irrevelant. Back then there were virtually no features that PDF had that doc didn’t have that really mattered.

    As for why Office Mac 2004 has PDF output support and why Office 2003 doesn’t, there’s probably an interesting story behind it.

    Consider this interesting story behind the incompatible file formats issue.

    ——–
    http://blogs.msdn.com/chris_pratley/archive/2004/04/28/122004.aspx

    So, file formats. Here’s the deal. In the 80s and early 90s, every time (nearly) that a new version of a product came out (1-2-3, WordPerfect, etc), the standard deal was that the new version had a new file format. This was a no-brainer and was considered normal and acceptable by the market. The product had new features that the old one didn’t understand, and you ran these things on standalone machines that had no network, so as long as the new version could read your old files, you were golden. You almost never had to send a file to someone else electronically – you printed it. Innovating meant a new file format.

    So, this was the tradition, and generally applications followed it. Word6 had a new file format compared to Word2, as was normal. Then Word95 came out – it was a 32-bit port of Word6 with only a few new features (although it had my all-time favorite – background red-squiggle spelling), and none of these affected the format, so it wasn’t changed. Word97 was started in 1994 at the same time as Word95, and almost the first thing that was done was the routine change of file format to accommodate some of the big plans we had (Unicode support being a huge one). Something really big happened in 1995 though – the internet, email, and Windows95. Suddenly everyone was getting a computer to access the internet, do email, and/or to experience the “wonder” that was Win95, since that had been such a big deal. PCs were becoming mainstream and were spreading everywhere. Corporations were deploying them in huge numbers. Another development was accelerating – LANs, and WANs – so electronic copies of documents could be shared inside companies much more easily.

    Around the beginning of 1996, well past “code complete” for Office97, we started to realize that the world had changed. Word6 had been sold into a market of about 10 million consisting of pretty techy users with few interconnections except via floppy disk (“sneakernet”), and it was the “challenger” product, so the installed base or older versions was small. Word95 had been unnoticed since it had the same file format, but it was widely adopted – not as much as Word 6 though. Word97 was going into a market of about 50 million, and Word was now “the standard”. We quickly tried to do something about the impending problem, but it was really too late. We had to ship without the ability to save the old binary format of Word6 (there is only one binary save path in Word and it is quite baked in), and of course we couldn’t go back to the old format since it would mean removing most of the improvements: all the new graphics, international support, etc, not to mention a huge delay. We started a crash project to build a “downrev save” converter to the old binary format using Word95 as a base, but that wasn’t ready at launch. Thus was born a legion of conspiracy theories about our “true” motivation for changing the file format.

    The reality of that was that customers were pretty dissatisfied, and wouldn’t buy the new version. Sales stalled at first, and we made a rule that the next versions of Office had to save in a format that was compatible with 97. We could still add new features, but whatever they were, they had to fit in the old format. This is why Word97, Word2000, Word2002, and Word2003 all use the same binary format. Fortunately we had those last few months to add some bits to the 97 format that made it possible to add things in the future that the old versions of Word would ignore politely, but sticking with the same format for the last 8 years (Word97 shipped in 1996) has put a significant crimp in our style. There is a corresponding claim that circulates the net that says we change the format “every release”. Since we bend over backwards not to do this, that one always makes me chuckle.

  74. duh! You guys couldn’t see that the users would not buy this once shipped? The stalled sales probably lost you more money that slipping in order to put in “Save as 95″ functionality. Still, in the long run it worked out and got people moving. So, you succeeded in spite of yourselves. Still and all, you are missing the point. Customer “need” is way down the list. Competitive pressure more the motivator.

    As an aside I’m always nonplussed when I see folks from Microsoft write when referncing 1995-97 “we realized the world was changing” IOW: “Oh my God!!! We WON’T have the world by the shorthairs now that this internet thing is going to be big”

    Anybody else find is somewhat odd that two guys that could see the furture of PC’s long before anyone else could, couldn’t foresee the potential of the internet long before it almost passed them by? And now the same guy couldn’t see the potentail of search long before someone else came along to eat his lunch? Curious.

  75. duh! You guys couldn’t see that the users would not buy this once shipped? The stalled sales probably lost you more money that slipping in order to put in “Save as 95″ functionality. Still, in the long run it worked out and got people moving. So, you succeeded in spite of yourselves. Still and all, you are missing the point. Customer “need” is way down the list. Competitive pressure more the motivator.

    As an aside I’m always nonplussed when I see folks from Microsoft write when referncing 1995-97 “we realized the world was changing” IOW: “Oh my God!!! We WON’T have the world by the shorthairs now that this internet thing is going to be big”

    Anybody else find is somewhat odd that two guys that could see the furture of PC’s long before anyone else could, couldn’t foresee the potential of the internet long before it almost passed them by? And now the same guy couldn’t see the potentail of search long before someone else came along to eat his lunch? Curious.

  76. So why has Adobe jumped up about this? I think it has to do with the following two issues:

    1. Microsoft’s market share: if saving to PDF becomes a standard option in Office, it will obliterate Adobe’s profit from Acrobat, which is its most popular software package.

    2. Microsoft wanted to include the ability to save to PDF as a fully functioning feature – in other words, hyperlinks and other special formatting would be preserved. Typically, with the free products out there, and with the Mac, when one saves to PDF, it’s essentially a print to PDF function, where special formatting and tags aren’t preserved. If you want the full-featured save to PDF function, that has usually only been available with the paid Acrobat product.

  77. So why has Adobe jumped up about this? I think it has to do with the following two issues:

    1. Microsoft’s market share: if saving to PDF becomes a standard option in Office, it will obliterate Adobe’s profit from Acrobat, which is its most popular software package.

    2. Microsoft wanted to include the ability to save to PDF as a fully functioning feature – in other words, hyperlinks and other special formatting would be preserved. Typically, with the free products out there, and with the Mac, when one saves to PDF, it’s essentially a print to PDF function, where special formatting and tags aren’t preserved. If you want the full-featured save to PDF function, that has usually only been available with the paid Acrobat product.

  78. So… what kind of competitive preassure was Office 97 facing that made it change file formats? It still sounds like customer demand to me. People just need to learn to stop complaining. Do you want Unicode? If you do then a file format change is in order. You can’t have things both ways. I find it funny how people like to complain that MS doesn’t innovate but when they innovate, which usually breaks things, people complain that they do not maintain backwards compatibility. Honestly, would you like to restate your complaint? If you think MS did something stupid and wrong, and was not listening to customer demand, then are you also saying that Unicode was a completely joke?

    Hindsight is always 20/20 and Bill Gates did not design Office so your arguments make zero sense. Also, Unicode is a mostly based on implementation and conventions thus there is no way any program could have seriously anticipated and incorporated it, which is why Unicode induced significant changes to many pieces of software. Since MS software is popular, whiney people only like to complain about MS.. how pathetic.

  79. So… what kind of competitive preassure was Office 97 facing that made it change file formats? It still sounds like customer demand to me. People just need to learn to stop complaining. Do you want Unicode? If you do then a file format change is in order. You can’t have things both ways. I find it funny how people like to complain that MS doesn’t innovate but when they innovate, which usually breaks things, people complain that they do not maintain backwards compatibility. Honestly, would you like to restate your complaint? If you think MS did something stupid and wrong, and was not listening to customer demand, then are you also saying that Unicode was a completely joke?

    Hindsight is always 20/20 and Bill Gates did not design Office so your arguments make zero sense. Also, Unicode is a mostly based on implementation and conventions thus there is no way any program could have seriously anticipated and incorporated it, which is why Unicode induced significant changes to many pieces of software. Since MS software is popular, whiney people only like to complain about MS.. how pathetic.