Recently Microsoft and Adobe have been at odds with regards to PDF integration in Microsoft Office. Adobe has threatened legal action against Microsoft simply because they wanted to put the Save As PDF function into their flagship product Word. This makes very little sense to me as it seems like Adobe is really shooting themselves in the foot with this.
For me, PDF is an essential part of my job. Since I started as a designer we have used PDF as a means of sending proofs to our clients and receive feedback quickly and easily. It assures that when I send a proof it’s going to be properly represented on the screen to the client and they will be able to make an accurate judgement of the work and be able to give feedback. This concept is of vital importance. Using other formats that rely on people having certain fonts installed makes sending files a crapshoot. This very problem came up this week when I needed to output some formatted Word documents that were emailed to me. I needed to reformat the document and make it look proper before I could print it because of font issues and the use of special characters. While it wasn’t a big deal to change, it still left the presentation of the document up to chance. PDF takes the guesswork out of how something should look.
Now the reason I think Adobe is shooting themselves in the foot because Word is the key to solving this problem. Practically everyone has Word on their computer. It’s the standard in the business world when it comes to word processing. Many people don’t venture too far outside Word when it comes to their computing experience. They use Word for everything, including visual layout. It’s very hard to get these people to use new programs. Relying on the fact people will use 3rd party tools to save a PDF out of Word seems fool-hardy. Having the functionality built right into the program is key to getting the business world using PDF. It seems to me that offering a means with which to guarantee the work done in Word will look proper on someone elses computer should definitely have an appeal to the Word using masses of the computing world.
I’m hopeful that Adobe and Microsoft can work out an amicable deal. Broadening the use of PDF will definitely make the lives of business and creative people alot easier and improve their ability to colaborate.