Jun 9, 2006

Adobe vs. Microsoft: The battle over the .pdf

Source: The Mercury News
Written by John Boudreau

Adobe Systems and Microsoft have seemed to co-exist in a mutually beneficial ecosystem for years.

But their cause for common ground, a little piece of software millions have used but may have hardly noticed — the Adobe PDF — is now the reason the gloves are coming off.

At the core of the tension is Microsoft’s move to create technology to compete with Adobe’s PDF franchise, and difficult negotiations around incorporating Adobe’s mostly open standard PDF software into the next generation of Office programs.

While Microsoft makes software such as Word and Excel that lets people create documents, Adobe can turn those documents you might print out on paper into digital, ready-to-be-e-mailed files through its Portable Document Format (.pdf).

Last week, behind-the-scenes friction between the two became public when Microsoft said it expected Adobe to file a lawsuit against the Redmond, Wash. company, possibly in the European Union, which recently has become more receptive to Microsoft antitrust concerns than U.S. regulators.

The dispute underscored the Silicon Valley axiom: Companies that cooperate often can end up trying to devour each other’s business.

“Adobe is one of many long-time partners of Microsoft that have now turned into competitors of Microsoft,” Jupiter Research analyst Joe Wilcox said.

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