The pressure is really on Microsoft Office at the moment. Just one day after Google ‘complimented’ Excel by releasing its own free online spreadsheet software Microsoft now finds itself forced to pull both PDF and XPS support from its upcoming 2007 edition.
The decision comes after Adobe, creator of the PDF format, started to kick up a stink four months ago. Microsoft claims Adobe argued that although PDF is an open format (it is already part of OpenOffice and Mac OS X) licensing it free to the Office would pose a genuine threat to its business. Consequently, Microsoft says Adobe demanded an additional charge be put on Office for PDF support. When Gates’ boys said no they were forced to pull it.
Adobe has yet to comment on its reasons for seemingly pulling rank on what should be an open standard but it has led to a double blow for the Redmond giant. After the court room battles that greeted the inclusion of Windows Media Player in its OS in recent years the company now fears including a rival PDF format (namely XPS) whilst not supporting PDF itself could lead to similar legal action. As a result a non XPS version of Office 2007 will have to be released (as if we didn’t have enough flavours?) alongside the XPS edition leaving customers unnecessarily baffled.
With six months still to go before Office 2007 hits shelves it will be interesting to see if the two companies can come to some form of arrangement. Certainly, Microsoft was thrilled to announce PDF support last year and Office Product Manager Darren Strange even volunteered to do a one-on-one interview with me to express his delight.
Is this the first time an open standard suddenly become a closed one? We await Adobe’s response with some anticipation.