Adobe Speaks Out on Microsoft PDF Battle

Adobe has issued a statement of response to recent reports that it has been unable to agree on licensing conditions with Microsoft regarding the inclusion of PDF support in a future version of Office.

The company says Microsoft has been an important partner to Adobe, adding: “Adobe is one of the largest commercial developers of Windows software, and we share millions of customers around the world.”

The statement continues: “While we typically do not publicly discuss our negotiations with customers, partners or competitors, Microsoft recently made a decision to share with press the fact that talks with Adobe were ongoing. Therefore, we feel it is important to provide additional background and clarification on a few of the resulting issues that have been raised in the coverage.”

The company confirms it has been in discussions with Microsoft for “some time,” sharing concerns regarding features and functionality in the upcoming releases of Vista (the next version of Microsoft’s operating system) and Microsoft Office.

“While much of the press coverage to date has centered on disputes over PDF and XPS [a competitive technology to PDF] in MS Office and Vista, the real issue is the protection of open standards,” Adobe explains.

Adobe is committed to open standards, the company continues. “Adobe publishes the complete PDF specification and makes it available for free, without restrictions, without royalties, to anyone who cares to use it. Because we license the PDF specification so openly, it has become a de facto standard, used by hundreds of independent software vendors worldwide. No other specification is employed on as many hardware platforms, operating systems and applications as PDF. PDF is incorporated into a number of ISO standards, and Adobe encourages developers, independent software vendors and publishers to support and embrace it. While the specification is available publicly, customers expect Adobe to ensure that the format does not become fragmented and that competing implementations of PDF do not undermine what customers have come to expect in terms of reliable viewing and printing of PDF documents across platforms and browsers.”

Adobe then explains that Microsoft in the past has demonstrated a practice of using its monopoly power to undermine cross-platform technologies and constrain innovation that threatens its monopolies.

“Microsoft’s approach has been to “embrace and extend” standards that do not come from Microsoft,” Adobe warns.

Adobe’s concern is that Microsoft will fragment and possibly degrade existing and established standards, including PDF, while using its monopoly power to introduce Microsoft-controlled alternatives, such as XPS. The long-term impact of this kind of behavior is that consumers are ultimately left with fewer choices.

Adobe has made no determination to take legal action against Microsoft. Any speculation on this matter is just that, according to the company.

“Adobe welcomes innovation and competition. We are confident in our ability to drive innovation and compete successfully given a level playing field. In our discussions with Microsoft, our motivation has been to maintain a fair, competitive landscape in the software industry. Any suggestions to the contrary are unfounded,” the company states.

-Macworld staff, Macworld.co.uk

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