There have been a ton of really great comments and questions today in relation to the news that we are going to have to pull our PDF and XPS publish support out of Office 2007. We will still offer the PDF and XPS publish functionality as a free download, but due to pressure from Adobe we are not able to ship it in the box. This is just an unfortunate added pain for our customers and doesn’t really benefit anyone.
There were a few areas that I’ve seen a bit of uncertainty around lately, and it was mainly from folks wondering why Adobe would do this. While I can’t say what the actual motivation was, I think I can help to clear up some of the speculation I’ve seen out there.
ISO 19005-1 compliant PDF/A
The first thing I’ve seen some folks suggesting is that the PDF output from Microsoft was somehow not following the PDF spec and that Adobe had to step in to stop that. I can assure you that is definitely not the case, and if you have any reason to believe that our PDF output was flawed, we would love to hear about it. If you have any feedback, you can go to Jeff Bell’s blog which discussed our PDF support. He hasn’t been too actively lately, but he’s definitely still reading the comments. Cyndy also had a couple posts earlier on that gave more details on Office’s PDF support (here and here).
To be clear, we worked really hard to follow the ISO standard for PDF. If you use the Beta 2 version of Office 2007, you’ll see the following dialog when you choose to publish as PDF:
Notice that there are a number of options for how you publish your PDF. One of the key ones is to use the ISO 19005-1 standard for PDF:
You’ll see that we really are trying to comply with the spec, and wouldn’t have anything to gain by doing otherwise. Remember we are only a producer of this stuff (not a consumer), and doing anything non-compliant would just mean that our output would be flawed and not look right. That would of course undermine all the work we’ve done to build this support in the first place… we want people to use it.
The second issue I’ve seen folks raise is that they thought we might have been blocking other people out from building their own solutions/formats into the product. That’s also not the case. Check out this MSDN article that clearly explains how anyone could come along and add their own functionality into the publish feature: http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/ms406051(office.12).aspx
You can see that we definitely are positioning Office as a platform for anyone to build solutions on top of. That’s why we use the Open XML format as our new default format and it’s why we focus on a rich object model.
The third issue I’ve heard is that people think this may be a sneaky way for us to promote the XPS format. That’s also not the case, as you’ll see that we are removing the XPS support in the same way we are removing the PDF support. We actually separated the XPS support out because we wanted to make sure we weren’t giving XPS an unfair advantage over PDF.
Please understand that this really is a pretty straightforward issue. If we could include it in the product we would, but unfortunately we can’t so we had to go with the next best thing (a free download). It would be great if this could all get worked out, but from looking at the articles, our folks have been in discussion with the Adobe folks for a number of months now, and there hasn’t been any progress. It’s really a shame.