Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Adobe to sue Microsoft - who cares?

I only just picked up this news from the Gartner High Performance Workplace blog. Adobe is threatening to sue Microsoft for including "Save as PDF" functionality in Office 2007. Normally, I wouldn't care much about corporate legal waving clenched fists. In this case, the outcome could be extremely important to financial services firms offering long-life products.

My comments on this blog were:

MS has no option but to offer "Save as PDF" functionality. Without it, the inclusion of records management capabilities in Vista would be heavily diluted.

MS Office products only save proprietary formats right now, and these do not make good formal records. So for organizations needing long term access to documents they produce, they absolutely must have PDF saving capabilities in the Office products.

Archiving is why Adobe offered PDF/A as an open standard and ANSI adopted it. If MS worked solely with the open versions of PDF (and adhered to the standards), I'm surprised that Adobe could have a say in its use.

For life insurance, annuities or even mortgage companies, ad-hoc customer correspondence and documents are often authored in Word. These usually constitute records that must be retained in the customer file, and be available beyond the end of the life of the account or policy. Which for life products could be well over 100 years. My bet is that the proprietary MS Office 2007 format won't be readable identically as published by any software in 2107.

Fortuately PDF/A will be, if NARA and other governmental records agencies have anything to do with it. It is essential to simplify financial services IT desktops that MS Office 2007 includes "Save as PDF" functionality, even if the firms do not adopt Microsoft's records management in Vista.

Let's hope Microsoft finds an acceptable way to use the open PDF format in its open standard form, and does not try and abuse it or add proprietary features as they did with Java. Adobe will hopefully support this so we avoid another cycle of proprietary MS Office formats making it into our records archives.

1 comment:

Phil Ayres said...


Good to hear that we are in agreement. I like your blog. I've subscribed to it, so expect the occasional comment from me in the future, and if you have something great I'll probably blog you.

In my blog I'm hoping to get a balance of ECM, BPM, general IT, and some business background. Who knows if I'll manage!?