'Open' Microsoft Document Format: Good or Bad News for Adobe?


Microsoft has agreed to include a promise to not sue over intellectual property as it relates to its XPS document format in a move that should make the file type more compliant with open source.


Reuters reports this morning that Microsoft has renewed its plans to submit its XML-based document format -- broadly seen as a threat to Adobe's popular PDF file type -- to an open standards body for review. Microsoft hopes to win the approval of open source licenses, such as the GPL, for XPS, which will be supported natively by both Office 2007 and Windows Vista.


A licensing flack over PDF export in Office 2007 had raised some speculation that a conflict with Adobe could be added to the list of complaints the EU seems to cultivate against Microsoft.


A smart piece at Ars Technica speculates that by pressuring Redmond to truly "open" XPS, the EU (if in fact it was the prime motivator in the case) has perhaps hurt Adobe's market position, particularly if an "open" document format from Microsoft makes headway in the open source/Linux sector.


We agree with Ars Technica that MS will undoubtedly retain legal control of its "open" format, as Adobe does with PDF. But XPS's biggest blow to Adobe may well be that Office users will no longer need to buy its relatively expensive Acrobat software to have full editing capabilities over a portable document format.

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