Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 4th Oct 2005 13:16 UTC
Features, Office This week, Microsoft announced that, with the next version of Office, it will support saving files to Adobe's Portable Document Format, or PDF. While logical, the move raises questions about how the PDF support will coexist with Windows Vista's move to its own page description format, known as Metro. Sinofsky [Microsoft Senior Vice President] also addressed how Microsoft views the controversy surrounding Massachusetts' mandate for the OpenDocument standard.
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Clinton
Member since:
2005-07-05

Why is the inclusion of such a feature worth making any noise over?

It isn't.

OpenOffice and others have supported exporting to PDF for a long time, and as you said, there are already print drivers that allow you to print anything to a PDF file.

To me, this is nothing more than Microsoft saying, "See, we support open standards too! See! See!"

Political nonsense at its best. A bunch of blathering with no substance whatsoever.

Reply Parent Score: 1

Mystic TaCo Member since:
2005-09-13

Speaking as a member of the team that built this support, I can tell you that, at least for my product, PDF export is the #1 requested customer feature. It is true that you can buy a third party prodcut, like CutePDF to get the same kind of thing, but here are the reasons customers have given me directly for wanting PDF support in Access:

- Integrated; This means it is plumbed all the way through our object model and macro engines, all their existing code and macros can take advantage of the feature w/o writing against some external libraries. This is extremely important due to current security concerns related to code signing, application trust, etc... Also, it makes automation easy. In Access you can output a report to PDF in a one-line macro that gets clicked off when you click a button on a form.

- Deployment & Maintinance Cost; If it is a part of Office, then there is only one source for patches. It gets included in the standard IT maintinance routine.

- Avaliability; While it is true that we hobby-developers all have administrator or root on our machines, it is uncommon for corporate users to have this level of access. In many cases, installing extra software packages isn't an option for them (they already have Office).

In short, we built this because customers asked us to. It is true that workarounds exist to solve this problem, but people don't want workaounds. They expect support to just be baked in to the product.

Reply Parent Score: 0

klynch Member since:
2005-07-06

I understand the reasons for corporate entities to cut back on software (especially with a subpar method of updating, but I digress).

However, why is this functionality being included in Office rather than part of Windows as a system level printer?

Also, PDF isn't really an "open" standard.

Reply Parent Score: 1

Ressev Member since:
2005-07-18

In short, we built this because customers asked us to. It is true that workarounds exist to solve this problem, but people don't want workaounds. They expect support to just be baked in to the product.

Glad you posted. This is exactly why people would like native OpenDocument support in MS Office.

Reply Parent Score: 1

Clinton Member since:
2005-07-05

Well, of course customers want it. They've wanted it for a long time. What I don't understand is a) why not announce it before all the news about Microsoft vs. MA (seeing as it's such a demanded feature)? and b) why not integrate it into Windows? As is, it looks like nothing more than a political move.

Also, if the customer really is that important, why not support OpenDocument, which would go a lot further in acheiving the level of document sharing capabilities that people want than PDF will? The only reason people want PDF is because they don't yet know that there is a better way.

Doesn't Microsoft think it would be a much bigger step towards satisfying customer's real needs by supporting an open format that is more robust than PDF?

Instead of trying to stick it to the competition all the time, why not listen to what your customers really want and then execute? It's pretty sad if your product doesn't have enough merit to stand up on its own without resorting to file format lock-in, don't you think?

Reply Parent Score: 2