June 2, 2006 11:14 AM PDT

Microsoft, Adobe squabble over PDF

Microsoft is bracing for a legal battle in Europe with Adobe Systems, following a breakdown in negotiations last week over the use of Adobe's PDF technology in Microsoft's Office applications suite.

Microsoft, which last October announced it would support Adobe's PDF format in its upcoming Office upgrade, has reached an impasse after four months of talks, a Microsoft attorney said Friday. Adobe wants the software giant to remove the PDF "save as" feature from its beta version of Office 2007 or to charge a fee for it, whereas Microsoft wants to offer that feature for free, said Dave Heiner, the deputy general counsel who oversees Microsoft's antitrust cases.

"The 'save as PDF' feature is the second most popular request we get from customers," Heiner said, adding, "Adobe has told the world that PDF is an open format...and (rival) products OpenOffice, WordPerfect Office and Apple (Computer's applications) already support PDF and tout it as a selling feature. Microsoft should be able to support PDF as well."

Adobe has threatened to file an antitrust complaint against Microsoft with the European Commission if the software giant includes the PDF "save as" feature in its Office 2007, Heiner added.

Adobe, which acknowledges it has had discussions with regulatory agencies worldwide about Microsoft's use of its PDF format, contends it has not violated any antitrust or price-fixing regulations.

"The regulators we talk to are the same regulators that cover antitrust and price regulatory issues," said Holly Campbell, an Adobe spokeswoman. "So we believe we are well within the bounds of the law."

Microsoft first learned of Adobe's concerns in a February letter from Adobe Chief Executive Bruce Chizen to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, according to a source close to Microsoft.

In the past, the San Jose, Calif.-based software maker has raised objections to Microsoft's plans to put its own XML Paper Specification (XPS) format, developed under the code name Metro, into the upcoming Windows Vista update.

As a result, Microsoft plans to remove from Office 2007 the ability to save documents as either PDF or XPS formats. Those capabilities can be added back in by customers via a free download from Microsoft's site.

Also, Microsoft said Friday that it will give computer makers the option to remove some of the XPS features from Windows Vista. Vista will still use XPS technology under the hood to handle printing duties, but user options such as viewing and creating XPS documents will be omitted if PC makers choose that option.

Microsoft, which last week released a test version of its Office 2007 package, now plans to remove the PDF feature from that beta as soon as feasible. The company does not expect that effort to lead to a delay in the scheduled release of Office 2007, which has already been postponed.

Competitive concerns
One reason Microsoft is taking these steps is to avoid further clashes with the European Commission, which is reviewing whether to level a massive fine against the software maker, Heiner said. European regulators found that Microsoft engaged in antitrust behavior by bundling in its Media Player with its operating system. They also found that the company had put up hindrances to competitors that wanted to design enterprise software that would interoperate with Windows.

The European Commission is already taking a look at Vista, and it voiced its concerns in March over such issues as the possible bundling of PDF-like formatting capabilities in its operating system.

Another area of concern for European regulators is the possible bundling of Internet search technologies into Vista. However, the U.S. Department of Justice recently shrugged off antitrust worries over a search box in the Internet Explorer 7 browser update in Vista.

Microsoft contends that Adobe is seeking to avoid competition, by wanting the software giant to charge for its own XPS technology and also for Adobe's PDF format.

Got views on Vista?

Adobe's desire to hold pricing discussions on these matters may violate antitrust laws surrounding price fixing, Heiner said. He added that antitrust laws prohibit competitors from working together to lower or raise prices and, as a result, Microsoft has refused to enter into such discussions.

Microsoft said it offered to include Adobe's PDF software in Vista but was told by Adobe that it does not want the software giant to use its PDF creation software in Vista. However, the parties remain in licensing negotiations over Microsoft using Adobe Reader to view PDFs in Vista, Heiner said.

Though talks have stalled on the "save as PDF" feature in Office 2007, Heiner said Microsoft is still open to renewing such discussions.

Microsoft has moved to resolve a number of its legal disputes over the past several years, settling with, among others, the U.S. Justice Department, Sun Microsystems, Time Warner and others. However, the company has seen new disputes crop up in recent months. In addition to the ongoing EU spat, Symantec has hit Microsoft with an antitrust suit over storage technology it inherited as part of its Veritas Software acquisition.

CNET News.com's Ina Fried contributed to this story.

See more CNET content tagged:
antitrust, Adobe PDF, regulator, Microsoft Office 2007, Adobe Systems Inc.

42 comments

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sounds like a missed opportunity
If MS could offer a seperate Office product that was more expensive but offered PDF editing abilities then I can't beleive they would pass that up. It is just one more opportunity to make Office more powerful and adobe can fade further into the background. Seems like it would be a solid step toward their end goal of world domination.
Posted by jeffhesser (102 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Open office offers PDF capabilities why not MS Office
Why is adobe complaining about microsoft offering to save the documents in pdf format?!!!

Isn't this an opportunity for Adobe?

Open Office allows users to save documents as PDF!!! and adobe does not have any problem with it.
Posted by Tanjore (322 comments )
Link Flag
world domination?
Both these companies are too big for their britches. They are both greedy and both want to dominate the world. I use Adobe products more but agree with Microsoft on this. MS should be able to add the PDF capabiltity for free. Especially that it has been there in past versions. Adobe will only be hurting their PDF format because office users with need to choose a different option than PDF.
Posted by Stan Johnson (322 comments )
Link Flag
So Its Okay for Apple
To integrate PDF within its OS, free of charge. But MS putting it in office is Taboo? Okay whatever...Looks like metro will become the standard document format for windows then. Thats OK, Id rather use Metro than the buggy, slow, resource hog AKA Acrobat...
Posted by SystemsJunky (409 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Apple?! How did they get in here?
Who says Apple isn't paying a fee for pdf integration?? Point me to that info please.
Posted by technewsjunkie (1265 comments )
Link Flag
Yes, it is OK because
Apple is not a convicted monopolist and Microsoft is. Being a monopoly requires that they have to play be slightly different rules than all others. And the conviction means that the competitors are allowed to enforce those rules.

Besides, I'm not convinced that Apple does not pay royalties.
Posted by sunergeos (111 comments )
Link Flag
Apple does pay&
OS X uses the PDF technologies for much of its display
technologies and the license it from Adobe. Save as PDF is but one
of it's uses.
Posted by (4 comments )
Link Flag
You'll Have to Use PDF
You may get to use Metro a bit, but you'll have to use PDF as
well -- here's why.

PDF will remain and grow stronger as the king because it is the
defacto standard from which all corporate documents are
produced for print production. Some companies will export to
metro as well, but time and resources will make this the
exception.

PDF is far from "slow and buggy," by the way, and I would know
-- I build and test about 100 pdf files weekly.

DJO
Posted by dansterpower (2511 comments )
Link Flag
Need more details!
Is Adobe saying no free pdf Reader in Office unless MS charges for an editable version??

In any case, this is goingto be a battle royal.
I'm so sick of MS trying to own everything!
Posted by technewsjunkie (1265 comments )
Reply Link Flag
OpenOffice does the same
OpenOffice has this feature since their first release. It can convert the Open Document files to PDF from within the program without installing anything else. SImilarly, you can convert the slide shows to Flash (swf) files. I am not sure if they have a deal with Adobe, but since OpenOffice is free, I assume they don't.

I see this integrated functionality as a good step for Microsoft. People will get functionality of two programs for the price of one. Besides, there are a lot of freeware programs available which can convert any Office document to PDF. for example Primo PDF. So even if Microsoft doesn't include PDF capability within Office, people can install these freewares and make PDF files for free (though a lot of people are not aware of these freewares)

Apart from that, a lot of higher end features, like PDF with videos, PDF with fillable forms etc can only be done by adobe.

Let's see where this lawsuit goes.
Posted by Riyan.M (20 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Adobe needs to get a clue...
Stop being greedy!
Posted by Stan Johnson (322 comments )
Reply Link Flag
RE
Companies are out to make money. Microsoft has a proven track record of being a bad actor in the market. They licensed the right to build a JVM from Sun and included proprietary extensions, that is until Sun sued them. They use their dominate position to hijack technology, I can't say I blame Adobe for not wanting to grant Microsoft the ability to use PDFs.
Posted by unknown unknown (1951 comments )
Link Flag
Huh?
MS thinks Adobe will sue for antitrust because MS won't seperate Adobe's thing and charge extra for it?

I'd imagine that Adobe gets paid either way. How is it better for Adobe that the consumer needs to know to specifically buy PDF support? How is it better for Adobe that the consumer then feels he or she must pay extra for it, and buy yet another addon to get it?

This is nuts. I think MS is goofy for assuming Adobe will do this, and I think Adobe would be goofy if MS's assumption is actually true. I don't pay extra for or have to obtain PDF export support seperately from OpenOffice...
Posted by amigabill (93 comments )
Reply Link Flag
FUD
This story is complete FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) on Microsoft's part. Creating PDF documents doesn't require Adobe's permission-- the file format is publicly available. It's possible Microsoft wanted to license Adobe's PDF library for inclusion in their software, though, for which they should no doubt pay a fair price.

I sense that Microsoft is just trying to create an excuse and sympathy for their own PDF-like technology they're introducing in Vista/Office next year.
Posted by samkass (310 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Microsoft needs ADOBE - NO FUD
ADOBE PDF is accepted as open document standard!!!(according to atleast Masschusets).

Microsoft PDF-like file format is not a open document standard!!!
Posted by Tanjore (322 comments )
Link Flag
Who Cares...
You should not be using Microsoft Office anyway. Always better to use as little MS software as possible.
Posted by umbrae (1073 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Message has been deleted.
Posted by pdude (65 comments )
Link Flag
That depends...
...if you live in the REAL world.
Posted by Stan Johnson (322 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Everyone should charge
If they want Microsoft to charge, they should require all apps to charge.
Posted by webbbaron (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Let's face facts
Adobe does not want Microsoft to include a Save as PDF feature in Office because that's the primary reason why people buy the full version of Adobe Acrobat.

If Office includes this feature, a large majority of users will have no need to buy Adobe Acrobat, and it will hit Adobe hard in the pocket.

Once again, it becomes Microsoft's responsibility to provide for the sales/usage of another company's software...

The PDF format is either open or its not. If Adobe can stop them from writing PDF's, who's next?

First they came for Microsoft, but I didn't speak up because I was a Microsoft-hater. Then they came for the...
Posted by fafafooey (171 comments )
Reply Link Flag
OpenOffice doesn't have PDF
Not like Microsoft wants it, anyways. To Save a file as a PDF using OpenOffice, you have to "Export as PDF". Microsoft wants to include PDF in the "Save As" drop down box in their upcoming release.

This to me is the critical difference -- Adobe does not want people to do a straight "save as".
Posted by Secesh (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Exact same thing
Although it might seem different "export" and "save as" are the exact same thing although terminology is different. Microsoft does not allow users to edit straight PDF files.
Posted by rjdohnert (16 comments )
Link Flag
Adobe Shaken
Adobe opens up PDF.

Adobe maintains Acrobat which sales rely on PDF.

Adobe wants broad PDF use in the market.

Now Adobe wants to prevent Microsoft to natively support PDF in Microsoft products.

What obviously surprise those in the know is that Microsoft is potentially Adobe's biggest partner given that Microsoft has a global market share that can definitely promise the broadest use of PDF.

Apparently, Adobe's interest is focused on protecting Acrobat's sales and maintaining their competitive stand with PDF supporting partners and customers. Are they shaken by the "PDF killer" potential of XPS? Or is it because Adobe's licensing model for PDF is not good enough to work with (or earn enough from) Microsoft?

Right now, sadly, the open standard PDF backfires Adobe.

Tsk, tsk, tsk...
Posted by Mendz (519 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Poor Integration with Plug-in
I've been using the PDF plug-in since Office 97 and I have had issues with the setup and integration of the plug-in with every version, including Office 2003(Acrobat versions 4-7). This wasn't isolated to one PC, this was on 6 different PCs, from Windows 98 to XP.

I use it frequently, and every time I click the PDF icon I wonder if it will work. I've had to reinstall countless times. If I install a service pack or security update related to office, it will likely require a reinstall of the PDF Plug-in.

So long story -- short, life would be much better if this was integrated as a "Save As" or "Export To" option in offfice. I. as well as most users see the benefit to the PDF format, read-only, universal readable document format.

But Adobe needs to realize that after 4 versions of PDF plug-ins for Office, they don't have what it takes to design and implement a smooth plug-in.
Posted by jmhmaine (10 comments )
Reply Link Flag
PDF made easy
Two quick comments:
1. Why does anyone care about this. in OpenOffice you just hit the "export directly as PDF" icon: done

2. You want to print anything from windows directly to pdf? All you need is PDF Creator: <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://sourceforge.net/projects/pdfcreator/" target="_newWindow">http://sourceforge.net/projects/pdfcreator/</a>
Posted by chukieb (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
http://sourceforge.net/projects/pdfcreator
this is all you need
Posted by chukieb (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Adobe is full of liars
"Adobe publishes the PDF standard in its entirety and makes it available for free, without restrictions, to anyone who cares to use it," Adobe Senior Director of Public Policy Michael Engelhardt wrote last year in a letter to a Massachusetts state senator. "No one needs permission from Adobe to build their own product with the PDF standard."

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.informationweek.com/shared/printableArticle.jhtml?articleID=188701361" target="_newWindow">http://www.informationweek.com/shared/printableArticle.jhtml?articleID=188701361</a>
Posted by ChazzMatt (169 comments )
Reply Link Flag
goodbye, Acrobat Standard and Pro
A client asked me to price out some software, including Acrobat. I inlcuded pring for Standard and Pro, along with a note about a free product called PDF Redirect. I asked him what he needed Acrobat for and he said he needed to print PDFs that were to be emailed. He didn't know anything about forms or any other feature Acrobat offers. Needless to say he chose the free PDF printer. If this is a typical Acrobat customer, then expect sales of Acrobat to decrease dramatically as MS adds this functionality to Office/Vista.
Posted by booboo1243 (328 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What's the point in PDF's anyway
I have to admit that I've always hated PDF's. Acobat Reader has always been a horribly slow program and doesn't add anything on top of any other text document except you can't edit them.
Posted by Lex Man (33 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Adobe is a bit hypocritical...
Autodesk, the monopoly in the CAD space, includes PDF and its own proprietary format DWF. No comments from Adobe. Hmmmm.

Adobe, the monopoly in PDF sets up OEM deals with other software providers to integrate its own save-as PDF technology in the application, preventing other third-party developers from selling plugins. Hmmmmm.

The government approved PDF as an accepted standard based on Adobe stating that anyone can develop to the PDF specification without restriction. Odd that their licensing agreement reads to the contrary. Did the wool get pulled over the eyes of our Senate? Hmmmmm.

So, where should the antitrust suit begin?
Posted by onthesidelines (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
 

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