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Office 12 to Include Native PDF Support 473

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the pdf-and-the-tower-of-babel dept.
parry writes "Microsoft announced today at the MVP summit that Office 12, the next version of Microsoft Office, will have native support for the PDF document format. Support will be built into Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Publisher, OneNote, Visio, and InfoPath." From the article: "Currently, on our OfficeOnline site, we are seeing over 30,000 searches per week for PDF support. That makes a pretty easy decision"
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Office 12 to Include Native PDF Support

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  • by exnuke (734919) * on Sunday October 02, 2005 @02:01AM (#13696896) Homepage
    So we just need to go search for Open Document?
    • MS is going to support another company's format (PDF) but they won't support OpenDoc - an OASIS format they indirectly helped create?

      Sooner or later this sort of hypocrisy is going to catch up to them and their business practices. No doubt there are legal interpretations of this that will eventually have to be answered as well.

      • Sooner or later this sort of hypocrisy is going to catch up to them and their business practices.

        What makes you think that? Sounds like wishful thinking to me.
      • by commodoresloat (172735) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @02:35AM (#13697011)
        Sooner or later this sort of hypocrisy is going to catch up to them and their business practices. No doubt there are legal interpretations of this that will eventually have to be answered as well.

        Yeah for sure! Remember in the late 1990s there was a company doing things like this, and the Justice Department went after them. We got a full ruling on the facts from a federal judge detailing count after count of monopolistic practices. The Justice Department really put that company in its place for breaking the law. What was that company called again? Oh, wait a minute...

      • by skyshock21 (764958) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @11:39AM (#13698510)
        OpenDoc? I'd wager to say no one in a "real office" even knows what the hell OpenDoc is. Meanwhile, .pdf's are being shuffled in and out of e-mail boxes, electronic records management systems, and color scanners on a constant basis. It only makes sense for MS to support a file format most people are using anyway. This is a no-brainer.
    • Might as well organize a small percentage of /.ers to make regular searches every few days for "Open Document", Linux, "Open Office", BSD, Java and a few other terms.

      Seriously, it'd be interesting if you could get a lot of people to do that and see which ones they actually pay attention to. I seriously doubt they'd consider adding support for any of the above, but, then again, I'm rather surprised they added ANY kind of support for anything that isn't pure MS.
    • Re:Open Document? (Score:5, Informative)

      by TheSpoom (715771) * <slashdot&uberm00,net> on Sunday October 02, 2005 @09:39AM (#13698046) Homepage Journal
      Here's a link to search for "open document format" on Office Online [microsoft.com].
  • by codergeek42 (792304) <peter@thecodergeek.com> on Sunday October 02, 2005 @02:02AM (#13696898) Homepage Journal
    Does this mean it will have PDF-import capabilities too? Or is this just export-only? It says on the article that it can publish to PDF. Just curious...
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I worked for a major engineering firm for a few years, and documents were distributed in PDF format specifically because they were read-only.

      If you were reading one of our PDFs, you could be assured that the content was accurate. Even printed versions of the document were (supposed to be) considered suspect.

      Making PDFs Read/Write would torpedo a LOT of current practices.
    • That was my question below too... Being able to export to PDF is something third party extensions have been doing long before OSX came along, and even the third party extensions put the export command in the "print" dialog for every other program, so it might as well have been built into the OS. I am sure Windows users have had similar options for years too. The searches they're getting for "PDF support" probably want something more involved than an "export to PDF" command.

      If that is what they're doing,

    • by Craig Ringer (302899) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @05:28AM (#13697462) Homepage Journal
      Unlikely. PDF import is WAY harder than export. here's an explanation I prepared earlier. [msdn.com].
    • by 1u3hr (530656) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @06:47AM (#13697627)
      Does this mean it will have PDF-import capabilities too?

      It would be possible to make valid PDFs that included the Word doc file as a resource. Users would open such a file in Word and edit it, then save it as MS-PDF again. After a while users would get used to this, even setting Word as the default app for PDFs, and this would lead to people saying "There's something wrong with your PDF (from OpenOffice/WordPerfect/etc), I can't open it in Word...." following their time-worn Embrace/Extend/Extinguish strategy.

  • by MightyYar (622222) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @02:03AM (#13696902)
    I don't know about you, but I can't wait for Microsoft Office with Pretty Darn Fast technology!
  • Now if only... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Deacon_Yermouf (900678) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @02:06AM (#13696913)
    ... they could incorporate a minimalist, fast pdf viewer into Windows itself, I would happy. Ever since zip support was incorporated into XP, I've been so pleased that I've had no reason to download winzip. And the Windows "Picture and Fax" image viewer is exactly what I had wanted for a while- a fast, simple way to view images, zoom in, etc. That's what I would want for .pdf's in Windows, a simple way to quickly open, view, and print. And with Adobe's latest offerings getting bigger, more bloated, and more irritating with each new release, believe me, it can't come fast enough. Thank God for www.oldversion.com [oldversion.com].
    • Try Foxit PDF Reader (Score:5, Informative)

      by manastungare (596862) <manas@tungare.naMONETme minus painter> on Sunday October 02, 2005 @02:46AM (#13697045) Homepage
      Foxit [foxitsoftware.com] reminds me of OS X's Preview every time I use it. Fast, lean, and loads quickly. It may not read some of the more advanced stuff that PDFs may contain, but it's great for previewing/printing. Free as in beer. No install required, so I even carry a copy on my thumbdrive.
      • by lahvak (69490)
        This is interesting. On Windows, you have Foxit. On OS X the Preview, on X11, ghostscript, xpdf, gpdf, kpdf and evince, at least. None of these does evrything Adobe Reader does, but they are all faster and smaller. I wonder how is this going to affect the pdf format.

        Pdf files can do a lot of things. You can create interactive documents, with animations, scripted with javascript, you can embed movies into documents. Few examples, just from the top of my head:

        a calculator [tug.org]
        Lorenz Attractor [uni-bremen.de]

        I have seen much mor
    • I agree! They could call it "Preview."
    • I've always been unhappy with acrobat, and then Macromedia came out with FlashPaper (a SWF posing as a document). I didn't notice it at first, then I saw a resume come in with a FlashPaper attachment. Like most flash, it's got a very small filesize and loads fast.

      It'll never be picked up by Microsoft (even though SWF is an open format), because MS is still trying to push it's Flash Killer line of graphics / motion tools. Real shame, because it's one of the better uses of Flash.

    • Give ACrobat Speedup a try http://www.tnk-bootblock.co.uk/prods/misc/index.ph p [tnk-bootblock.co.uk] to get it. Basically it turns off all the damn plugins that ACrobat loads by default. This does mean that some advanced stuff won't work but who cares? You never see PDFs with it anyhow.

      It really does drop the loading time singificantly.
  • by XavierItzmann (687234) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @02:07AM (#13696916)
    OS X 10.0 (Cheetah), March 24, 2001
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mac_OS_X [wikipedia.org]

    "Redmond, start your photocopiers"

    • Actually Word for the Mac has had PDF support for years.

      My father's always been pissed at Microsoft for including PDF support in their Mac products but not in their PC products.
    • ps2pdf has been around since.. hell, as long as I can remember using Linux (probably before Office95). Since printing in Linux has always been based around postscript, I've never even thought about the fact that people have trouble printing to PDF.

      PDF has been a target printer in Gnome for a long time. I reckon longer than OS X has been around.
      • There have been free Mac-native PDF solutions since about the same time, including a port of ps2pdf. The grandparent was probably referring to single click PDF generation in Mac OS X: you don't even have to pick it as your printer. It's definitely very convenient having it available as a command button in every print window.
    • And this odd need to go "Ooo look, Apple was t3h first!!!!111"

      Who. Cares.

      Ok, great, so Apple got PDF viewing back with OS 10 (please note it's viewing that's built in, MS is talking about PDF creation as well). How does that makes them special?

      Also what's real intersting if you are all up on copying then what about the OS-X kernel? Rather than make their own, or buy one like BeOS, they decided to grab Mach and use that. Not that there's anything wrong with it, but there's no innovation there, it was copying
    • Just to clarify: any OS X program that can print can produce PDF files.

      Office 12 might be going to include PDF support but I really wonder why they don't just make the Windows print system capable of producing PDF files.
      • Just to clarify: any OS X program that can print can produce PDF files.

        Just to clarify more: OS X does not produce PDF files with embedded fonts. This means that you cannot *guarantee* that the recipient sees the same thing that you printed. This happend to me while sending a advertisement layout to a local newspaper.

        Very not good. :(
  • by d2_m_viant (811261) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @02:08AM (#13696921)
    For those who haven't seen them yet, Office 12 Screenshots: http://pdc.xbetas.com/?page=o12preview1 [xbetas.com]
    • ughhhh.... (Score:3, Interesting)

      The new Word looks like a nightmare. I'm glad I use it on a Mac. Native PDF support's been in the OS for a while so that's never been an issue. Hell, under MacOS 7.5+ I could print to PDF from Word using third-party extensions.

      The real question though is what they mean by native PDF support. Will I be able to fire up Word, open a PDF document, edit it and save as a Word document that someone else using earlier versions of Word can open? I bet a significant portion of the searches they see for PDF sup

    • by Seraphnote (655201) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @08:46AM (#13697891)
      About PDF, my thought is the same as many, ABOUT TIME!
      About OpenDocument format, we ought to start a pool on how many versions it will be before they "listen to their customers" for that request.
      (And why don't some Open developers whip up a plugin for Office to allow OpenDocument support for Office?)

      BUT WHAT I FIND MOST INTERESTING, IS Office 12's ENTIRELY NEW and RE-ARRANGED INTERFACE!!

      Its NOT JUST AN UPGRADE!
      Its a WHOLE NEW USER EXPERIENCE, which means...

      ...THERE'S NO REASON CORPORATE USERS CAN'T BE SWITCHED TO OpenOffice, StarOffice, or any other Office!

      There is no way a corporation can "drop" Office 12 into place without people first being trained! (Well they could, and probably will, but to their non-techie users it'll be a shock!)

      Thank-you Microsoft! For once again giving us innovation to do the same work an entirely different way!
      (But now we have another good reason to look at alternate brands for that "entirely different way"!)
  • by KajiCo (463552) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @02:11AM (#13696928)
    WOW, PDF support in Office 12, amazing how innovative microsoft is... let me just print and save this amazing article through my Native PDF print driver here on my little ole' primitive Macintosh for later use...
  • PDF Printer Driver (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mlewan (747328) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @02:18AM (#13696947) Homepage Journal
    A solution that would be kinder to the competition would be to have a system wide PDF printer driver, like MacOS X has. In that way you could print to PDF from any application.

    Isn't there such a thing hanging around as freeware already in Windows, btw?

  • So, I guess the PDF standard is here:

    Embrace ***
    Extend
    Extinguish


    It wont be too long before we all have to have Microsoft Document Reader (tm) installed somewhere on our boxen!
  • Innovation (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 02, 2005 @02:19AM (#13696954)
    Say what you will about Microsoft, this is one company that knows how to innovate. Innovation runs in its blood. Microsoft really innovates like nobody else. Built-in PDF support is an excellent idea. No one ever thought about doing it but Microsoft did. Sometimes we are ready for their innovation as is the case with the PDF support. And sometimes Microsoft is ahead of the times as in the case of Microsoft Bob. This is one innovative company though.
  • OpenOffice.Org... (Score:3, Informative)

    by DarkProphet (114727) <chadwick_nofx&hotmail,com> on Sunday October 02, 2005 @02:21AM (#13696963)
    ...has had this for a long time.

    But, let me be one of the first to say - "Its about freakin' TIME!"
    • Re:OpenOffice.Org... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Bio (18940)
      What I usually do in my role as webmaster when I receive a Word doc for presentation: Open it in OpenOffice, export as PDF and upload it to the website. The PDFs are very slim. And it's easy.

      I bet the PDFs written with MS Office will be very bloated (like the HTML format is).
  • by SerpentMage (13390) <ChristianHGross@yah o o .ca> on Sunday October 02, 2005 @02:24AM (#13696975)
    Is it not amazing that MS is supporting PDF? AFTER MA made its decision with use on Open Document formats? I mean if this is such a great feature, then why was it not discussed at the PDC? Oh yeah, forgot at that time the MA decision was not final. So I wish MS would admit that they are doing this so that they can be MA decision compliant (http://news.zdnet.co.uk/software/windows/0,390203 96,39215912,00.htm [zdnet.co.uk]) and not because "the customer" wanted it. BECAUSE the customer has wanted it for ages!
  • PDF in Vista? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by broothal (186066) <christian@fabel.dk> on Sunday October 02, 2005 @02:31AM (#13697006) Homepage Journal
    Great - now they're finally catching up with Open Office :)

    Actually, I'm wondering. If they're really implementing PDF support in that many products, wouldn't it be easier to just do it one place - say in Vista? Windows Vista could have native PDF support, and in turn all the programs would have PDF support - not just the above mentioned.

  • Oh, *really*? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Darkforge (28199) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @02:32AM (#13697007) Homepage
    From the article: "Currently, on our OfficeOnline site [microsoft.com], we are seeing over 30,000 searches per week for PDF support. That makes a pretty easy decision"

    So, how's about you, me, and a few thousands of our friends search for OpenDocument support [microsoft.com]?

  • microsoft bashing (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mrterrysilver (826735)
    everyone on slashdot bashes microsoft non-stop and its very annoying.

    take for example pdf support. it became a feature that maybe they didn't do first but realized there is a need for it and they added it. are they supposed to never add features they didn't originally think of? isn't the most important thing that they reconize it is something customers want and they give it to them?

    also i'm sick and tired of hearing that there's no innovation from microsoft. i've used office 12 and it is very cool an
  • Coincidence that this announcement comes a few days after Massachusetts goes for PDF as one of the approved formats to use in government? Methinks not...
  • by Lucas Membrane (524640) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @02:50AM (#13697063)
    PDF is the most miserable format to have to read the way that most of us do most of our reading -- on a computer. I've got lousy (ie over-50) eyes, so I magnify everything with that zoom magnifier so that the text fills the screen horizontally. What happens when I scroll down? Because pdf is for paper, and paper has different right and left margins depending on whether you're on a right or left page, the next page won't have its print filling my screen, it's off to the left or right. Play with the horizontal scroll bar every page. Thanks, pdf. Then, because it thinks the printed page is everything, Ctrl-A doesn't select 'All' text, just all text on the current page. And don't get me started on documents presented newspaper style, where I've gotta keep scrolling up and down, left and right. And page down gives the next page of text (according to the hypothetical paper), not the next screen of text according to the actual viewing device. That's so close to useless, you'd think MS invented it. The objective in software is to achieve device independence. The PDF viewer manages to achieve device dependence on a device that isn't even in use (paper). Paper is going to be an exception. A printable e-book would be nice, but if I want a paper book, I don't need a computer. To make the computer subservient to the dead tree is upside-down design.
    • by Arandir (19206) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @03:07AM (#13697119) Homepage Journal
      That's because PDF is a WYSIWYP (the "P" standing for "print"). Yes, it's a pain, but PDF is hardly alone in this regard. Most word processing formats have the same drawback. I don't know if these fixed-width formats are because of the "Age of Paper" as you say, or whether it's because so many people can't stand the user/reader being in control of the formatting. IMHO, HTML and other markup languages are better (as well as simpler) for information content than rigid page formats.
    • I'm currently in the process of writing my honours thesis, so I have used hundred and hunreds of lengthy PDFs this year (as most journal access is electronic this day). I completely agree with you that PDFs make for crappy screen reading, but used for certain purposes PDF make a lot of sense. I would make two points:

      1) When writing an academic text you invariable reference your sources (otherwise its, obviously, plagarism). PDF is useful because you (usually) get a scan of the original article, with the
    • Totally true! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Inoshiro (71693) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @03:43AM (#13697223) Homepage
      If only there was some kind of extensible document format [coverpages.org] that let people have it be both printable and viewable on a monitor! We'd have to let the style sheets cascade [w3.org], but then we could even support things like text-to-speech [w3.org] from the same document meant for printing and viewing! Hey, why stop there, why not make it a markup language [w3.org] so that we can add other neat features, like hyper links!

      Wow, though, that's a lot of standards work. We might need a standards body [w3.org] to oversee it. Maybe someday, people will start to encode information in this format [wikipedia.org] so that we can view it comfortable on our monitors without fucking around with stupid documents [goldmark.org].

        -=-

      Sarcasm aside, it's totally not a technology issue -- it's a people issue. PDF has its place in forms you want printed off, because it currently has momentum. I have no idea why people resist using the alternate solutions which have added benefits beyond the PDF momentum.
          Bug the people who put up PDFs for use. People using PDFs where they should be using XML is lot like people using Shockwave flash where they should be using XML.
      • Re:Totally true! (Score:3, Informative)

        by kryptkpr (180196)
        I know exactly why nobody uses XML and everyone uses PDF.

        XML has absolutely NO software support. I can painstakingly write this great XML file by hand, using either a long, complex Tutorial [brics.dk] which I can hopefully bend to my needs, or by reading the several pages of specification [w3.org] packed with technical garbage. Fine. Now what the fuck do I view it in? What do my recipients view it in?

        On the other hand, to create a PDF, I can create the content with my application of choice and print to a PDF distiller (of
    • Viewer, not format (Score:3, Informative)

      by Craig Ringer (302899)
      The majority, if not all, of the issues you describe are with the viewer, not the format. Moreover, many are solved by learning to use the viewer. Continuous view, with an appropriate page fit setting, will solve the majority of the problems you've described.

      Personally, while I don't have poor vision, I do like large and highly readable text since I work on computers a *lot*, and I have a very high resolution display as well. I rarely find PDF to be a problem in this regard. I'm generally as happy with PDF
  • ahhhhh!!! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GimmeFuel (589906) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @03:05AM (#13697113) Homepage
    Anyone else cringe when they read this?

    native support for the PDF document format

    In other words,

    native support for the Portable Document Format document format

    • by Johnso (520335) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @03:28AM (#13697185)
      native support for the PDF document format

      If that's true, I'll be able to export my PIN number to the PDF document format and store it on my RAID array...

      • No, you've got it all wrong. You'll walk over to the automated ATM machine and enter your personal PIN number. You'll then receive some cash and a receipt encoded in the portable PDF document format. When you get home, you'll scan the receipt with optical OCR recognition and then store it on your redundant RAID array made from inexpensive disks.
    • Ha, reminds me of the Detective Comics covers, "DC Comics presents Detective Comics" = "Detective Comics Comics presents Detective Comics."
  • for awhile now. Which is great, open up presentation, make one, and save it as a PDF makes for great easy marketing PDF's. =)
  • Ballmer decides to "kill" Google... Yahoo are the first to suffer... Massachusetts goes for Open Document and pdf... Microsoft decides to accept the less "open" of the two and Adobe get to suffer

    What's the bets that this 'innovative' native Office12 support for pdf will only really display properly in Office 12???

    This is all to get back in with Massachusetts but will enable them to foist their perverted XML into the mix.

  • by more (452266) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @04:52AM (#13697391)
    Microsoft has three legs: .doc, win32 api and wabi.

    They are cutting win32 api to lead the customers to the next honey pit, .NET. They need to move the customers around, because otherwise the competition would catch up with an increase of win32 api complience (WINE, nt2unix, wind/u, MainWin, Willows Twin API) and wabi complience (WINE, Cedega). If Microsoft stays put, they will lose the win32-leg. This is whyt they will cut it away. They will be standing on two legs, and are trying to grow an additional leg (at customers expense) called .NET.

    Adding good support for .pdf is like self-amputating the (quickly rotting) .doc leg. After this amputation, Microsoft will be standing for a while (before and if .NET is adopted ***) on one leg, binary compatibility. This is where they really excel. The windows software out there is so buggy, that it is a huge task to make an binary layer that matches the bugs in the early Windows, changes modes around to match the various Windows versions, etc. Typically, I can easily run about 5 % of old Windows code using WINE, whereas about 50 % runs on a modern version of Windows (I am talking about software that Microsoft has not tested within their labs, like computer games made in Finland for Finnish kids, but to some extend this ranges to other multimedia software and games, up to Tiger Woods Golf 2000, which does not run on latest Windows). However, if people would see Microsoft balancing with one leg, there would be much more money pushing it over by an improved binary compatibility.

    In my opinion it is very dangerous for Microsoft to simultaneously cut two legs, win32 and .doc.

    ***) In the company where I work at, the initial enthusiasm for .NET is dying in the upper management. The initial projects implemented with .NET have been near catastrophes in engineering productivity and quality, whereas our C++ work has been okeyish. Also, the middle management is seeing the interoperability difficulties with C++/.NET -- C++ is still needed at the algorithm level to gain competitive speed, and the interoperability issues with .NET are huge.

  • by Craig Ringer (302899) on Sunday October 02, 2005 @05:33AM (#13697477) Homepage Journal

    This is very odd. I've seen almost no comments along the lines of "Yay, native PDF support in this software that lots of people use, now maybe they'll stop emailing me bloody word docs."

    Rather, there's lots of ranting about innovation, and lots of people saying that $[software] did it first. Yep, sure. I have an unpleasant revelation for you - *none* of the software industry is exactly a powerhouse of innovation. They all implement ideas that came from each other, improve them or butcher them along the way, and try to compete. OO.o may have had PDF export first, but it's UI is a bad clone of an even worse UI (Office '97). Office might be picking up PDF export pretty late in the game, but on the other hand it looks like they're working to fix the train wreck that is office suite user interfaces. Similarly, Apple and Microsoft are busy chasing each other, nicking each other's ideas, and coming up with the odd good one along the way. Arguing about who is most innovative is just not interesting. Ideas come from all the involved parties, and everybody steals them. Big deal.

    To me, this just looks like MS doing something sensible, often requested by customers, and perhaps long overdue. It's beyond me why all the comments here are so overwhelmingly negative.

    Slashdot isn't usually this bad, folks. What's gotten into this bunch today?

    For those talking about printer-driver based PDF export, it's not that simple. Here's what I posted earlier [msdn.com]. Summary: OS based would be nice, but a simple generic print interface would be insufficiently flexible so something more would be needed anyway. Anyway, if they built PDF export into the OS, I bet this crowd would be screaming about monopolies, bundling, and anticompetitive business practices.

    I find all this pretty disappointing. There are posts on the forum thread with the new user interface screenshots that are foaming crazy, and they all prominently say "I support open source!" or rant about OSS. Yet so many folks here wonder why nobody is interested in listening when someone has something constructive and rational to say. I begin to wonder if the crazies are the loud majority, rather than the loud minority...

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