At the community leaders day I was telling one of the attendees that my sister was a Professor of computer science so I wasn’t even the top Geek in my own family. I know how Ralf Schumacher feels. It was a good day. The open source guy who spoke at the end was really worth hearing, and came out with the memorable quote “Scoble has done more for Microsoft’s image than Bill Gates ever will”. Who says this blogging business is a waste of time ?
When I got home there was a post from Scoble and mail from my sister on the same subject. My the serendipity fairy has been busy today. My sister who’s no Microsoft fan, is quite happy to build PDF processing tools for the Mac was pretty scathing about Adobe. Mary-Jo Folly has the full story (which stems from a New York Times subscriber only story) This is what the fuss is about.
Now: Office 2003 introduced print to MDI (Microsoft Document Image) format - think TIF with OCR, so it cracks PDF files which prevent copy - e.g the schedule sent my Microsoft UK's travel agent.
Windows Vista has print to XPS (XML paper spec. ) - think open, XML alternative to PDF. Office 2007 has Save or Publish to PDF. It’s the first time Microsoft have supported PDF, though it has been a top customer request for years.
We could – I guess – have supplied a print to PDF driver which would have allowed ANY application to create PDF.
Adobe have a dominant position in the supply of PDF creation tools for the PC , Adobe have been quite happy for other software companies – including Microsoft competitors like Word Perfect and Open Office – to have PDF output. The key attraction of the format is that it is open, so I find it’s interesting to see reports say they’re playing the “We can’t compete” card that is Anti-trust, to prevent a new entrant supplying competing tools to consumers. Supposedly they tried to negotiate with Microsoft for PDF support to be a chargeable upgrade, but our reluctance to let others tell us what we can or can’t put it software suggests that can’t have been a realistic starting point. Brian Jones suggests that it will be free download as a compromise, but as he says Adobe seems to be saying that PDF is actually not open (or that it is open for some, but not for others). This is a huge problem
Over in the world of digital photography (where Adobe photoshop is dominant) Adobe are promoting a “digital negative” format – DNG for the storage of raw images – that is data from the camera’s sensor which hasn’t been turned into a TIF or JPG. Current raw files don’t just vary between camera makers – they change with each model and standards would be great, but who’s going to adopt a standard which is “Open until adopted by someone who we find threatening” ?
If this does cause enmity between Microsoft and Adobe then web users might benefit. How so ? On that page of Mary-Jo’s there is a great steaming flash turd. It's what Jacob Nielsen terms bad Flash with no purpose beyond annoying people: read his most hated techniques in Web Advertising and you’ll see that flash is the implementation vehicle of choice for most of them. Flash is now an Adobe technology. And whose products were being advertised with a really annoying bit of flash on Mary-Jo’s page. Take a wild guess .... Microsoft’s. If this means a blanket ban on flash on any Microsoft site, or ad I’d be delighted.