October 3, 2005 3:31 PM PDT

Microsoft to support PDF in Office 12

Microsoft will enable people to publish documents in the Adobe Systems PDF format with Office 12, a company product manager said Saturday.

Office 12, which is expected to be completed by the second half of 2006, will let end users take an Office document and convert it to PDF, Brian Jones, a program manager for Microsoft Office, said in a blog posting. People will not be able to actually read PDF files from within Office applications; a PDF viewer will still be required, he noted.

The PDF support will be built into Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Publisher, OneNote, Visio and InfoPath, Jones said.

"We've really heard the feedback that sharing documents across multiple platforms and long-term archiving are really important," Jones said in his blog. "People now have a couple options here, with the existing support for HTML and RTF, and now the new support for open XML formats and PDF."

Microsoft's XML-based document formats will be the default setting for Office 12. The advantage of having an XML-based format is that information from documents can be more easily shared and archived, according to Microsoft executives.

The importance of multiple document formats came into sharp focus last month when Massachusetts decided to mandate the use of the OpenDocument format in desktop productivity applications used in the state's executive branch agencies. Adobe's PDF is considered an "open format" under the state's policy. Microsoft's Office 12 does not support OpenDocument.

Even as Microsoft adds PDF support, the company is working on a document format, called Metro, that offers many of the same features as PDF. Metro will be delivered in late 2006 with Windows Vista.

Metro is designed to enable people to view Office documents without needing Office applications. The format also uses the graphics engine in Windows Vista to have a consistent way of displaying data on a screen and sending document data to printers, according to Microsoft.

At a meeting with Microsoft partners Saturday, Microsoft's senior vice president of Microsoft Office, Steven Sinofksy, demonstrated the PDF support. A beta test version of Office 12, which will include the PDF feature, is expected to be released this fall.

In an interview on Monday, Sinofsky said that Microsoft has been getting 120,000 requests a month that it add an option to save files in PDF. He said the decision to add the support was made some time ago.

"It's been a feature area that has been under development for the whole product cycle; we just chose to announce it this past week," he said.

An Adobe executive said that the company welcomes Office's support of PDF.

"Microsoft's announcement is really a validation that PDF is the basis for customer critical workflows," Pam Deziel, Adobe director of platform strategy, said in an interview.

At the same time, Deziel acknowledged that the company is seeing increased competition from Microsoft in a variety of areas.

"Yes, we see them encroaching into areas where Adobe has long delivered products," she said, adding that Microsoft is both a key partner and a formidable competitor. "There is healthy 'co-opetition'...That's the way the game works in this industry."

Deziel said that Adobe might see lower sales of its low-end Acrobat Elements program, but that the majority of the Acrobat business comes from higher-end products whose abilities stretch beyond Office's PDF-handling features.

It is less clear, Deziel said, how Office's new PDF capabilities will dovetail with Microsoft's plans for Metro. The ability to save and share Metro documents from any program will be built into Vista and available as an add-on to Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. Sinofsky declined to say what built-in Metro abilities Office 12 will have.

"We're curious about that," she said. "I don't think they've answered that question very well."

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


Join the conversation!
Add your comment
About time . . .
The next step should be to add the ability to generate PDFs from
any app, something that Mac OS has had built-in for several years.
Posted by Thrudheim (306 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I agree...
... 'coz MS should've done this a long time ago...
Posted by Mendz (519 comments )
Link Flag
Any App can create a PDF...
Just use one of the hundreds of printer drivers for it that are all over the web...
Posted by zaznet (1138 comments )
Link Flag
Big Deal!
Mac users can generate pdf files directly from the MacOS for
ages. Still, good news for the MS users, I think.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
PDF Files Suck
Im so sick of PDF's. Acrobat crashes consistantly on Mac and on Windows. I prefer just using the MS Document Image writer. Much better and speedier than PDF.
Posted by SystemsJunky (409 comments )
Link Flag
PDF = "standard"
Sadly, the PDF format is a "standard" in the same way that .doc or .xls are "standards", and so it makes sense for Office to support those files.

It's such a PITA to use them, though. PDFs have their place, but they are used WAY more frequently than they should be.

Funny, though, to listen to the Massechusets people sheepishly stumble though their explanation of why PDF is "open enough" for the state to use, but Office metro docs aren't, even though neither support OpenDoc. Almost like the plan started with an agenda BESIDES money or "transparent file formats", and then formulated a course of action to fit that agenda.

Anyway, it's pretty clear my shop will continue to rely on Excel (and Office), given the feature set coming in Excel 12. I think OpenOffice has about 4-6 years worth of HARD work to do to catch up, 2.0 is woefully behind the times, and will feel like Excel 5.0 when Excel 12 ships. (Yes, I think OO is great if it does what you need, it just isn't for everybody.)
Posted by KTLA_knew (385 comments )
Reply Link Flag
PDF is usefull because you can get a reader for just about every platform. I don't believe Microsoft intends to publish the specs for Metro so it can be used on any platform. I also believe that Microsofts XML file format won't validate as standard XML.

There is always WordPerfect which I find to be way ahead of Microsoft Office in many area's and sadly behind in others. Microsoft know that if they use open document standards they will actually have to create a better program. And that goes against their business practices.

Most everybody I know buys Office because that's the most wildely used document format and is used in many schools and offices, not because they like using office. Some do, but many don't. Many I know switched from WordPerfect and have regretted it.
Posted by System Tyrant (1453 comments )
Link Flag
PDF is an Open Standard!
It totally makes sense why the State of Massachusetts is
including PDF in their mandate; PDF is an open (hence
published) standard. It is also cross-platform, meaning that all
computer users have access to documents created in the PDF
format, which is the best approach for maintaining universal
accessibility for information made available to the public.

In regards to OpenOffice versus Microsoft Office...

I use both office suites and your analysis is biased and off the
mark. I would venture to say that OpenOffice (and StarOffice) is
probably more comparable to MS Office 2000 and higher, which
since most of the MS office using world is probably using either
Office 2000 or Office XP, then switching to OpenOffice or
StarOffice would not be a problem for 95% of Office users out
there today.
Posted by JuggerNaut (860 comments )
Link Flag
doesn't make sense
why is microsoft supporting formats other than their own? If "metro" is a pdf killer, then why give life to pdf? I'm confused. Unless by pdf, they meant metro based, but pdf compatible. imagine the file size needed to accomodate both.
Posted by agent V (34 comments )
Reply Link Flag
...PDF is a standard, and customers are asking for it to be supported. Don't think for a second that MS doesn't hope to define that market itself, but for now, they are choosing to give customers what they're asking for.

I'm sure they'd love to get rid of it just like they'd love for .wk1 and other old competitor formats to go away.
Posted by KTLA_knew (385 comments )
Link Flag
Actually, it's no big deal....
... Office 12 is not going to be adopted by most users. It doesn't
offer enough improvements to warrant the cost. PDF capabilities in
Office 12 are nothing more than a massive yawn
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Office 95 can produce PDF files...
All that is needed is a printer driver that 100 websites provide for $35. You can also find a free one out there if you dig hard enough.

This is hardly news worthy stuff...
Posted by zaznet (1138 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Just use CutePDF writer
Just use CutePDF writer. It's freeware and work well.

There's another free one that's open source but it never worked for me.
Posted by hadaso (468 comments )
Link Flag
catching up?
One more reason to use a Mac; saving any document, including those generated with Office, as a PDF has been part of the standard Print menu in OS X since 10.3.0.
Posted by kavanden1964 (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
One more what?
Try reading some of the other posts. You have been able to produce PDF's on Windows from anything that can print since long before OSX was around (I like PDFCreator). Maybe that is one more reason to use Windows?
However, I think if you look around, you have been able to do the same on Mac's, again long before OSX. Once again, MS copies the same folks that Apple copied from.
Posted by catchall (245 comments )
Link Flag
I like...
I thought it was interesting that you will apparently need Vista to use and view Metro files. Since it uses the Vista display engine. Now I could be wrong but that seems to leave out a great number of computers and users that simply won't be able to use those files. Seems to me like Metro is already a dead and worthless format. PDF still rules and I am guessing that Microsoft doesn't like that.

Posted by Heebee Jeebies (632 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You're right
considering that WindowsXP is still battling to unseat Windows2K (I think that it just surpassed Win2K a few months ago), making software that only runs on Vista will be an uphill battle.

It has taken years for XP to surpass 2K and it will take years for Vista to unseat both 2K and XP.

As someone else has said, Office2000/XP/2003 are already good enough for most people (not everyone, but for most). Microsoft will have to offer something really wonderful to make those people shell out money to pay for something they belive they already have in their current version. Tying the wonderous features to Vista only serves to increase the cost of the upgrade (and yes, one may even have to upgrade their hardware) and suddenly, the great feature may not be as compelling as it looked initially.
Posted by Flytrap (82 comments )
Link Flag
Mac version has it already
'Print to PDF' has been in OS X since at least 10.3

Reason #576 to get OS X, or to buy a Mac :-)
Posted by (22 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Print to PDF not OS/X specific...
Print to PDF on the Mac is not peculiar to
Office nor is it Mac-specific. Mac OS/X uses the
same CUPS print system that has been used for
years in most Linux distributions (predating Mac
OS/X, but not its predecessor NeXTStep) and is
also popular in Solaris.

The advantage of an application generating PDF
directly is that it can frequently produce a
more terse PDF file (smaller one). Running
OpenOffice on a Mac or Linux you can both export
a file as PDF and print to PDF. The results are
visually identical, but the application
generated output is generally smaller.
Posted by Gleeplewinky (289 comments )
Link Flag
Can you edit an existing PDF file?
Posted by Sboston (498 comments )
Link Flag
Microsoft OpenOffice.org
Well I actually posted a reply like this at Blogma.... but since all over this site there is a reprint of likewise articles, I will reply here as well!

Since OpenOffice 1.1 came out, I use this PDF feature already, and now Microsoft finally reaches the state of being able to do the same? It seems to me like Microsoft is just beating Google in acquiring OpenOffice implementations. Maybe that's part of their deal with SUN they made last year?

However in the meanwhile the MS Marketing Department convinces the rest of the world, including IT Media like C|Net that this new feature in their office product is so advanced, as well as the same media copies Microsoft press releases stating that OpenOffice is outdated, backwarded and way not as advanced as their Office product! Seems to me to be one great FUD, and a big disappointment.

It not as such a complaint against Microsoft, they do a great and smart marketing job. But in my opinion, the media does have to beef up their quality and stop publishing these kind of nonsense stories without critical comments. It shouldn't be the readers to state the Sun and OpenOffice.org connection, C|Net and likes should have done that!
Posted by (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The Mac had it before 10.3
I remember printing to pdf in OS 9.
Posted by Macsaresafer (802 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Yep you can "print" a pdf file from any Mac OS X native application. Makes my job of emailing forms to people outside of my company an easy process.
Posted by Karlos2121 (1 comment )
Link Flag

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot



RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.