Microsoft lawyer: talks with Adobe to use PDF have broken down, Adobe threatened legal action

“Microsoft Corp.’s negotiations to use Adobe Systems Inc.’s technology in its new Office business software broke down earlier this week and Adobe threatened legal action, Microsoft’s top antitrust lawyer said on Friday. The previously undisclosed talks between the two sides centred around Microsoft’s plan to allow users to save work under Adobe’s Portable Document Format, or PDF, within the company’s Office 2007 suite of applications and its new Windows Vista operating system,” Daisuke Wakabayashi reports for Reuters. “Adobe objected to Microsoft building the ‘save as PDF’ option into Office and Windows, arguing that the ability to save a document in a fixed document format, such as PDF, is a separate product and should not be free, Microsoft said.”

“In order to avoid a legal clash, Adobe requested Microsoft remove the “save as PDF” option from the new Office and wanted to have users download the “add-on” function for a fee, said Heiner, who is also Microsoft’s deputy general counsel,” Wakabayashi reports. “Further, Adobe asked Microsoft to also remove the ability to save a document under Microsoft’s XML Paper Specification, or XPS, format — a rival to Adobe’s PDF technology — and then charge a fee to add the XPS feature into Office. Microsoft agreed to remove the built-in ability to save a document using both the PDF and XPS file format from Office, but refused to charge users a fee to download the two formats because there are rival products that already allow users to create PDF documents for free… Microsoft argues that Adobe offers for free the technical specifications to allow other software companies to build applications that allow users to save documents using PDF. A competing software to Microsoft’s Office from Apple Computer Inc. and an open-source product called OpenOffice allow users to save in PDF.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Note: Just a sec – we’re saving this as a PDF. Okay, done. Since it was first released, Mac OS X has been able to read and write PDF files. MacOS X is the first operating system on the market that actually uses PDF-technology within the operating system itself. Quartz, Mac OS X’s native graphics system, is built on the Portable Document Format (PDF) drawing model and all native Mac OS X applications can create PDF documents automatically.

According to Apple (2.7MB PDF, appropriately enough), “The Quartz imaging architecture is based on a digital paper metaphor. In this case, the digital paper is PDF, which is also the internal model used by Quartz to store rendered content. Content stored in this medium has a very high fidelity and can be reproduced on many different types of devices, including displays, printers, and fax machines. This content can also be written to a PDF file and viewed by any number of applications that display the PDF format. The PDF model gives application developers much more control over the final appearance of their content. PDF takes into account the application’s choice of color space, fonts, image compression, and resolution. Vector artwork can be scaled and manipulated during rendering to implement unique effects, such as those that occur when the system transitions between users with the fast user switching feature. Mac OS X also takes advantage of the flexibility of PDF in implementing some system features. For example, in addition to printing, the standard printing dialogs offer options to save a document as PDF, preview the document before printing, or transmit the document using a fax machine. The PDF used for all of these operations comes from the same source: the pages formatted for printing by the application’s rendering code. The only difference is the device to which that content is sent.”

According to the The PrePressure Page, “Some people have been wondering whether Apple pays licenses to Adobe for the technology used in Quartz. Here is what an Apple employer had to say about this: ‘The Quartz renderer and the PDF interpreter that Apple ships with Mac OS X are built with Apple code, with no external licenses, by Apple employees. Adobe just publishes a specification for how it’s supposed to function. This gives Apple considerably more flexibility with regard to what Quartz and the PDF interpreter can be used for.’”

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46 Comments

  1. Is this Adobe being greedy or Microsoft pulling a move on Adobe which Adobe responded by pulling their format so M$ can just use XPS?

    M$ knows Adobe needs money. Photoshop is pirated quite a bit on Windows and sales of it are stalled on Mac’s because the entire code base is being rewritten for universal/X-Code and they just don’t have the talent like they used too.

    So whatta you think? M$ BS or what? M$ being greedy and not parting with the money?

    Adobe thinks they are in a position of power. M$ knows it is?

    What’s the real deal?

  2. I love PDF. I couldn’t function without it. Many of my Windoze clients hate the fact they can’t create it for free without having to buy the program, but they all use PDF Reader.. HA

  3. PDF is the business standard. Microsoft has been talking up Vista’s and Office 2007’s ability to save in PDF format for years.

    Apparently they want PDF but they don’t want to pay Adobe for it because Apple doesn’t.

    There is always open source PDF but the licensing is a bit much for Microsoft to swallow. I guess business will have to keep buying Acrobat.

  4. I don’t understand. Why can’t MS do the same thing that Apple does? Take the free specifications and write code that meets those specs. If Adobe is not letting MS do what others are able to do at no cost, then Adobe is wrong.

  5. This appears to be another case of M$ copying what everyone else already has.

    That said, if Adobe didn’t go after Apple et al for including PDF, I don’t think they have much of a basis to block M$.

    Then again, IANAL.

  6. There’s gotta be something else going on here. My understanding is that PDF is an “open standard”, i.e. you don’t have to ask Adobe’s permission to use it. If I had to guess, I’d say that the functionality Microsoft wants to build in is based on Adobe’s source code, not just the PDF standard.

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