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Microsoft

Microsoft takes on PDF 983

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the enter-the-competition dept.
bhhenry writes "Linux Format reports on a new Microsoft PDF-killer technology to be included in Office 11, called XDocs. From the article: "Adobe's stock took an immediate hit, and some analysts went so far as to compare Adobe to erstwhile MS competitor Netscape.""
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Microsoft takes on PDF

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @06:43AM (#4598184)
    OpenOffice/StarOffice produce very nice pdf-files, wonder if that has anything to do with it.
  • Monopoly Abuse? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by otisaardvark (587437) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @06:45AM (#4598194)
    Surely this sort of thing is exactly what the US DOJ is avidly against - using overwhelming market share (in, say, office products) to gain overwhelming market share in other sectors (wysiwyg "electronic paper"). Hopefully the EU anti-competition measures will be more stringent than those in the US.
    • Re:Monopoly Abuse? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Mocenigo (534548) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @08:01AM (#4598491)
      Yes, but people in the american administration is not happy about the "europan" attitude towards the behaviour of an allegedly "free market". The EU stance is that there is no free market if market is allowed to create a monopoly. In physics this is called a singularity, and Microsoft is indeed a kind of black hole. It engulfs everything, and distorts and ultimately breaks what gets near to it. I am quite happy that we (well, actually, France) also have nukes: GWB will not treat us like Iraqis. After all, we are becoming a "rebel market" in Bush' eyes...
  • by ruckc (111190) <ruckc@ y a h o o . c om> on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @06:45AM (#4598196) Homepage
    XDocs are based around the XML specification. Hence, wouldn't they be easily modifiable?
    • The question is, will Microsoft invent their own "standard" brand of XML. I suppose they could follow the XML spec, but then again I don't hear any pigs flying overhead at the moment.....
      • If nothing else, they'll still f**k up the format by adding links to ActiveX components etc. so that you'll need to have Office installed to view properly.

        What is wrong with a plain old PS, you can even embed EPS files into PS files. Has always worked, will always work. I use Framemaker + xfig + matlab for my documents, and this far, I've never had any problems. As for PS portability, that's what ps2pdf is for :)
    • by sql*kitten (1359) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @07:01AM (#4598268)
      XDocs are based around the XML specification. Hence, wouldn't they be easily modifiable?

      Let me just see if I understand Slashdot's position on all of this:
      • MS Office uses a closed, proprietary format and that's bad.
      • OpenOffice uses XML, and that's good.
      • Now Microsoft want to use XML too... but that's also bad

      So my question to the Slashbots is, will you criticize everything Microsoft does - even if it's something you wanted them to do - just because it's Microsoft? Or is there a serious technical reason that this product is inferior?

      Because, y'know, the best product should always get the support of the market. That's why Excel is so popular.
      • by khuber (5664) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @07:24AM (#4598346)
        Just because you use XML doesn't mean that your format is open/accessible. XML is just a low level file format that requires a language to be useful. I mean binary is an open format because all computers understand 1s and 0s right? No...

        PDF isn't a very good format either because Adobe controls the spec. It isn't open.

        Looking at Microsoft's XDocs FAQ since I can't get to the article, it appears to be geared primarily towards creating forms so it's not obvious how it competes directly. I never liked PDF forms and they seems to be used rarely.

        The evilness of XDocs depends on whether you will be able to easily use them without Office. PDF has wide support on many platforms.

        -Kevin

        • by pjrc (134994) <paul@pjrc.com> on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @10:58AM (#4599322) Homepage Journal
          If PDF isn't an open format, then how did Derek Noonburg create XPDF [foolabs.com], a free (GPL) PDF viewer for unix/X11 that works well on almost all PDF files, even ones with encryption.

          It wasn't always fully open... I've followed xpdf for many years. In the early days, Derek could not show encrypted PDF files because Adobe would not release specs on the encryption . Long ago, xpdf printed a message with contact info for someone at Adobe, saying "contact them and tell them to make good on their claim that PDF is an open format" (or something like that... it's been years). Apparantly there was quite a bit of tension between Adobe and Derek, and people from Adobe claimed (lied) that xpdf could not show those files because Derek was a bad programmer. Finally, Adobe relented and released full specs including the encryption. This probably never would have occured if it weren't for Derek Noonburg and his xpdf program (and Adobe's initial refusal to release a linux version of acrobat reader).

      • by rant-mode-on (512772) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @07:25AM (#4598350) Homepage
        • Because, y'know, the best product should always get the support of the market. That's why Excel is so popular.

        But why is Excel the best? Is it because they just made a better product and everybody else gave up because they couldn't innovate? Or is it because Microsoft crushed the opposition by exploiting their monopoly?

        I think you'll find that Microsoft ensured that the "best product" never got made, because they knew it wouldn't be theirs.
        • by guybarr (447727) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @07:45AM (#4598437)
          I think you'll find that Microsoft ensured that the "best product" never got made, because they knew it wouldn't be theirs.

          Nope. They have good devs just as other firms. the "best product" wouldn't be made because MS will not be able to charge for an upgrade later.

          This is not an MS-specific tactic, many SW firms use it, but MS has used it most successfully, so far.

          problem with this kind of tactic is that eventually it WILL backfire.
      • by Nerant (71826) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @07:25AM (#4598354)
        One. Slashdot is a forum, not a united voice.

        Two. XML is good, because it's a format that parsers have been written for, so developers don't have to write yet another file format parser, but merely write some additional logic ontop of an existing XML parser.

        Three. Microsoft using XML isn't bad. However, given the history of their actions with regards to standards, and common sense, it is highly probable they'll find some way to subvert XML into some bizarre format that only MS Office can handle. This is what some of us at Slashdot feel will happen. XML isn't bad, but Microsoft doesn't have a track record for following standards. They do however, have the high score for subverting them.
      • by DF5JT (589002) <slashdot@bloatware.de> on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @07:25AM (#4598355) Homepage
        | * MS Office uses a closed, proprietary format |and that's bad.
        | * OpenOffice uses XML, and that's good.
        | * Now Microsoft want to use XML too... but |that's also bad

        Big difference:

        Microsoft's DTD (Document Type Definitions) are proprietary, which makes use of the open framework XML just as proprietary.

        Microsoft's use of XML *is* bad indeed.
      • by pubjames (468013) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @07:29AM (#4598371)
        Let me just see if I understand Slashdot's position on all of this:
        [..]
        Now Microsoft want to use XML too... but that's also bad


        It's simple. The people who post to Slashdot generally don't trust Microsoft. And they've good reason not to. Even when they say they are using a particular format, they deliberately do stuff to make it incompatible with anything that isn't from Microsoft.

        Try this simple test. Open a document in Microsoft Word 2000. Save as HTML. Look at the HTML. You will find yourself looking at something that is unlike any other HTML you'll ever come across.

        So when Microsoft say that XDocs is in XML format, it doesn't really mean it will be in XML format, just something they themselves call XML format.

        Microsoft hasn't done anything recently that has convinced me that I can trust what they say. So I don't. The mistrust runs so deep that I, and I expect may other people who post on Slashdot, will be absolutely amazed if we open an XDoc and see something like this:
        <title style="heading1">This is a title</title>
        rather than (and this is a small extract from a very simple document in Word 2000 saved as "html"):
        <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml>
        <w:data>08D0C9EA79F9BACE118C8200AA004BA90B02000000 080000000D0000005F0054006F006300320034003200350038 003400330031000000</w:data>
        </xml><![endif]--></s pan><!--[if supportFields]><span style='color:windowtext;
        display:none;mso-hide:sc reen;text-decoration:none;text-underline:none'><sp an
        style='mso-element:field-end'></span></span><! [endif]--></a></span><o:p></o:p></p&g t ;

      • by mgibbs (548224) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @09:52AM (#4598938)
        :-) Sorry, this just reminded me of a Simpson's quote:

        Shop Owner: We sell forbidden objects from places men fear to tread. We also sell frozen yogurt, which I call "Frogurt"!
        Homer tells the owner that he is looking for a present for his son's birthday. The owner hands him a talking Krusty doll.
        Shop Owner: Take this object, but beware it carries a terrible curse!
        Homer: [worried] Ooooh, that's bad.
        Shop Owner: But it comes with a free Frogurt!
        Homer: [relieved] That's good.
        Shop Owner: The Frogurt is also cursed.
        Homer: [worried] That's bad.
        Shop Owner: But you get your choice of topping!
        Homer: [relieved] That's good.
        Shop Owner: The toppings contains Potassium Benzoate.
        Homer: [stares]
        Shop Owner: That's bad.
        Homer: Can I go now?

    • by Beautyon (214567) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @07:42AM (#4598427) Homepage
      PDFs are easily modifiable.

      You can open them and edit them in Acrobat.
      You can open them and edit them in Illustrator.
      You can open them and edit them in Ghostscript (including stripping the "protection" that is meant to stop you from printing, copying and editing locked PDFs)

      PDF isnt going to be replaced, unless MS releases a distiller like app for free, and makes it available to all applications in windows as a virtual printer.

      If they then release a free and full featured reader to go with this imitation distiller, then you MIGHT eventually have an "Acrobat Killer".

      Anything that stops the widespread creation of files in the new format will kill this idea. Just ask the people who used to make Replica (which came out almost at the same time as adobe released PDF); it only allowed you to create 5 "Replica files" before you had to buy the software. If they had allowed you to produce as many Replica files as you wanted, the number of files in that format would have exploded, and Replica would have become a contender. Instead, it dissapeard off of the face of the earth.
    • by Scarblac (122480) <slashdot@gerlich.nl> on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @08:19AM (#4598552) Homepage

      XDocs are based around the XML specification. Hence, wouldn't they be easily modifiable?

      XML is just a format.

      Word .docs are based around long strings of bytes. They are easily modifiable. But modifying them in a way that makes sense is much harder. Similarly, knowing the file is in XML format doesn't mean you know what goes where.

      Just that some given programming language has source code in ASCII doesn't mean you immediately know how to use it either.

      Of course, they could make their XML files self-documenting, with good names for tags, and some freedom in where they are placed. Or they could use obfuscated names, use many arcane little rules for their structure, or even encrypt stuff in it. It all depends on the DTD, which isn't open. I wouldn't trust them to suddenly put work into making a format that's maximally open for everybody, would you?

  • Netscape? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mccalli (323026) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @06:46AM (#4598202) Homepage
    ...some analysts went so far as to compare Adobe to erstwhile MS competitor Netscape.

    Curious. I don't recall Netscape having the market leading graphics suite for professionals, nor a well-regarded video authoring suite, nor a revenue stream from the licensing of Postscript rendering engines in printers.

    Oh well. Analysts said it. I must be wrong.

    Cheers,
    Ian

  • by mrpuffypants (444598) <mrpuffypants@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @06:46AM (#4598204)
    But I see that this, unlike browsers a few years back, as being pretty damn entrenched in the business and graphics world.

    With browsers 6 years ago there was very little loyalty, so MSIE could move in before everyone realized just how powerful MS was going to be over Netscape and the other companies involved in browsers.

    But with Adobe Acrobat we're talking about a refined and popular format. Actually, Acrobat is one of the best file ideas out there, IMHO. It is perfectly cross platform, well designed, and (neglecting to note the whole russian programmer fiasco) Adobe has a good business model behind it.

    MS's only strong point could be integration, like they offer with all of their other 'solutions', but Adobe already has great integration wih their own suite of programs and even with Microsoft Word.

    They should call it Bob...
    • by iamwhatiseem (554133) <gmcdfam@sbcglobal.net> on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @07:32AM (#4598381)
      .. having been in the design field for 19 years. When PDF's came along it was the best thing since sliced bread. ALL design software worth anything supports PDF's now. They will not support the new MS one, at least not for quite awhile. And with Adobe InDesign climbing the ranks, I don't see any immediate threat.
      Also there have been very FEW viruses that infect PDF's, imagine the viruses that will be written for M$'s version.
    • Acrobat is one of the best file ideas out there

      Bah! I have some issues with PDFs.

      A gzipped postscript file is always smaller than a PDF. Add bzip2 compression, and it's even smaller.

      Neither PS or PDF can be modified significantly or easilly. Even with Acrobat, you can change some text, but you can't move anything around.

      Similar to the previous, you can't easilly parse and modify it, non-interactively. If I want to change something in all my HTML files, I have no problem. To do it in PDF is a nightmare.

      What I think we need is an HTML archive. That way, you can distribute a single file that contains one or more HTML files, along with all the images, CSS, et al. It could simply be a zip or tar file. And, of course, browers and editors need to understand how to fully utilize that archive. Right now, if you delete an image from a page, it doesn't remove the image file; that would need to change.

      The only thing HTML needs to match PDF is a page-break character, so you can closely control the page layout (if you want to), and someone else could easilly change that layout you wanted, for their own needs/preferences.

      That would be easy to modify interactively, easy to script/automate changes. Easy to create, easy to distribute, print, etc. Everything that PDF is, and everything that it isn't.
      • by abulafia (7826) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @08:58AM (#4598681)
        I'm no fan of Adobe. They abuse a dominant position, too (take Photoshop's most recent changes with "improving" tiffs).

        However, saying all HTML needs to match PDF is page breaks is like saying all a Pinto needs to take on a Porsche is not to explode.

        PDFs are entirely editable in many applications. They can include font data. They include everything needed to output cleanly on a variety of output devices. They are made to look the same on screen as they will on output devices. They solve many of the main problems with delivering files to press.

        HTML is markup. PDF is page description. There is an enormous difference.

        -j
  • Umm... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Black Perl (12686) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @06:48AM (#4598212)
    XDocs is an XML editor. It really has very little to do with output formats like PDF. The only company likely to be sweating about this product is Altova.
    • by starvingartist12 (464372) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @08:00AM (#4598484) Homepage
      ...reports on a new Microsoft PDF-killer technology to be included in Office 11, called XDoc
      The PDF-killer isn't XDocs. It isn't even new technology.

      XDocs is only Microsoft's front-end application for modifying XML (which the original slashdot post never mentioned). XDoc [microsoft.com] is positioned as a Word-like way of manipulating XML form data (Screenshot [microsoft.com]).

      If anything, XML will be the PDF-killer. Adobe trapped themselves into a corner when they devoted themselves to a proprietary file format instead of using XML. With everyone jumping on the XML bandwagon, no wonder Adobe's stockholders are getting nervous.
      • by Baki (72515) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @08:15AM (#4598533)
        Why the hell would Acrobat be more proprietary than some as of yet unknwon XML DTD (or schema)?

        The only fundamental difference is:
        binary format (Acrobat) versus ASCII/Unicode (XML) i.e. 'human readable'.

        First, proprietary not human readable. Proprietary means an undisclosed file format.

        XML without a published DTD or Schema (published both the scheme and how to interpret it) is just as proprietary as any other undisclosed file format. At best, it might be easier to reverse engineer (which is forbidden in the US).

        AFAIK, Acrobat is an open format (yes, even binary formats can be open, gasp). Whether XDoc(s) shall be open remains to be seen.

        This irritating misuse of proprietary and concept of 'not binary == good' misleads to many mistakes and creates false understanding.
    • Re:Umm... (Score:4, Funny)

      by G-funk (22712) <josh@gfunk007.com> on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @08:07AM (#4598502) Homepage Journal
      SSSHHHH! Don't spoil the slashdot fud tantrum! Geeze, next you'll be saying you can turn off palladium, and that you don't _have_ to listen to celine dion, even if you own a mac.
  • Yes, but... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by melonman (608440) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @06:50AM (#4598224) Journal

    ...surely the issue is not whether or not it's Microsoft, but whether or not the technology actually works.

    IMHO, postscript/PDF is one of the most ingenious formats around. It is extremely portable, handles fonts, vector graphics and (perhaps to a lesser extent) bitmaps wonderfully, and, if used sensible, can be extremely compact. And just about every typsetting machine on the planet uses it.

    So for Microsoft to win this one, they are going to need to produce a pretty innovative product, for which the precedents are not good...

    • Re:Yes, but... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Per Wigren (5315)
      ...surely the issue is not whether or not it's Microsoft,

      No, it's about how open it is, if it's portable, patented, if 3rd parties can implement it, and things like that.

      but whether or not the technology actually works.

      If it's not portable I can't use it.
      If it's not open, Free Software developers can't implement it in the programs I use.
      Then it's not working. Not for me at least.

  • by Zayin (91850) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @06:53AM (#4598238)


    Warning: Too many connections in /var/www/backup/pnadodb/adodb-mysql.inc.php on line 105

    Warning: MySQL Connection Failed: Too many connections in /var/www/backup/pnadodb/adodb-mysql.inc.php on line 105
    Error connecting to dbnuke
    Program: /var/www/backup/mainfile2.php - Line N.: 82
    Database: nuke
    Error (1040) :




    Well, I guess "Database: nuke" is a fairly accurate description of what's happening just now...

  • by foniksonik (573572) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @06:53AM (#4598242) Homepage Journal
    For instance:

    -Transparency
    -Full compression via JPEG, ZIP, LZW, GIF, PNG, etc
    -Font sampling, ie: reduced character sets
    -Full interactivity, media support (audio, video, forms)
    -Seamless support by industry standard vector editors... think Illustrator, Freehand

    Look at OS X... the whole damn GUI is rendered via PDF then spit out as an OpenGL texture... will XDocs compete with that level of sophistication?

    Interesting but I doubt it will be a "PDF Killer".

    Maybe it will be an alternate digital media format (most likely with some insane DRM/Palladium tie in).

    • by fishnuts (414425) <fishnuts@arpa.org> on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @07:23AM (#4598342) Homepage
      It will be a PDF Killer when they include it in every single MS product. IIS will have modules to generate and process them on-the-fly, IE7 will have the Viewer, Office will have the Publisher, Exchange will have its own interface, of course, and since they'll certainly be wrapping it in a layer of DRM, the DMCA will prevent anyone from reverse-engineering it to produce a compatible Viewer for NS/Moz/Konq/Opera/Lynx or *insert-your-non-MS-OS-here*.

      And since this idea wasn't mentioned at all during the DOJ Antitrust trials, DOJ probably wont bother touching it.
    • Simpler even, Acrobat is a commercial product but the format, PDF, is an open format [planetpdf.com]. It will never go away because of that and because of the wide range of implementations/tools readilly available.
  • by palad1 (571416) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @06:55AM (#4598245)
    After reading about xdocs last week, we came to the following conclusion that XForm is in no way a end-user 'static' document format.

    What it does is 'just' provide an link between a document and databases through .net WinForms embeded in an office doc, talking to a database via a webservice.

    What does that mean?

    Well, now the office suite will be able to do the same thing as XUL+Soap in moz, in a much nicer way for the end user [remember, word _IS_ the computer for most persons].

    I think that's a sweet move, as long as the webservices talking to XForms are not crippled and accessible from Moz, everyone will be happy... and as long as it's not yet another vb-only scripting language :
  • XXX (Score:5, Funny)

    by lovebyte (81275) <lovebyte2000@ g m a i l .com> on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @06:55AM (#4598247) Homepage
    MS Xdocs
    MS eXchange
    MS Xbox
    MS Windows XP

    What next?
    MS Xwindow?
    MS Xnotfree86?
  • by Jjaks (104293) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @07:01AM (#4598271)
    XDocs might be a threat to pdf in the field of online forms processing, as described in this zdnet [zdnet.com] article. Today pdf is used extensively in organizations that administer large quantities of paper forms that are sent to them.

    But I don't think it can threaten pdf in other areas, because pdf is very, very established as the standard for online read-only documents. For instance, when I was looking for a new job earlier this year, I used Open Office to generate pdf files containing my applications that I sent to employers, and I didn't get a single complaint that they couldn't read it.
  • by blankmange (571591) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @07:02AM (#4598277)
    And who out there is genuinely surprised by this move??? My only surprise is how long it took for MS to move on .pdf.

    Personally, I find .pdf files a pain - they are memory intensive and usually the machine I am working on doesn't have Acrobat loaded on it (already noted here).

    If MS can make this a simpler and more ubiquitous process, then so be it.... Adobe has a hell of lot more going for it than Acrobat - why didn't they just sell it to MS for a profit and be done with it? Adobe makes money and their Acrobat becomes a defacto standard.
  • by selderrr (523988) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @07:04AM (#4598281) Journal
    can anyone remember the last time they actually came up with something innovative ? All they do is examine markets, pick one with only one large competitor and rewrite the software in an inferior way.

    Fortunately, there's a big difference with netscape : netscape was a small company, the web was still in its infancy. Adobes pdf market (press) on the other hand is a billion dollar industry and adobe has quite a tad of experience with lawsuits. I doubt they'll just sit and scream murder...
    • by SensitiveMale (155605) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @07:40AM (#4598417)
      can anyone remember the last time they actually came up with something innovative ?

      Yes, I can.

      They invented the gui. no wait...

      They invented the PDA. no wait...

      They invented the little 'x' in the corner to close the window. no wait...

      They invented the mouse. no wait...

      They invented the task bar. no wait...

      They invented a multi-user OS. no wait...

      They invented their IP stack. no wait...

      They invented multi-media on the computer. no wait...

      They invented the internet browser. no wait...

      They invented new ways to extend monopolies and even when busted they never get punished. They only have to promise not to break the law in the same way in the future.

      YUP, that is what they invented.
    • by NeuroManson (214835) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @07:51AM (#4598446) Homepage
      There's a common misperception in regards to what "innovation" means. Most companies that are not making a new and unique product depend largely on taking preexisting concepts and designs and either finding improvements or enhancements to said design, often creating their own proprietary applications.

      For example, one could easily accuse Adobe of the exact same theft of concept:

      (1)They patented Postscript type as a way to allow desktop publishing to advance to a point where it could compete with conventional printing shops, while similarly giving themselves a near monopoly on the desktop with applications such as Pagemaker. Speaking of which...

      Pagemaker was a desktop publishing app that basically put Adobe on the map, despite it's being released at a time when there were multiple companies making various flavors of SOHO publishing solutions. Other than the GUI and certain key tools, it wasn't really that innovative, and Adobe can easily be accused of "ripping off" other software companies.

      Also, the same applies to Photoshop. One could easily claim as well that it was almost a direct rip of MacPaint when it first came out. Once again, other than the GUI and key tools, it wasn't that innovative, there were hundreds of paint/edit programs on the market. Similarly, the same applies to Freehand (surprisingly, the sole piece of software that's not innovative at all, and still recieving ample competition from Corel).

      Ahhh, and then we move to the PDF format, which ironically was an application meant to provide an alternative to rich text Word documents. Not exactly any innovation there either, in fact, far more bloated and complicated than even Word could ever hope to be.

      So Microsoft made their own "PDF Killer"... It isn't like they haven't ripped off other companies before, the implied fear of Adobe somehow losing to Microsoft in a market where they have a considerable share is ridiculous.

      Personally, I dislike PDF, especially in terms of bloat and loading delays in browsers. It's ridiculous, to have to wait an extra 5-10 seconds for Acrobat to load (and another 10-15 seconds just to load the document into the browser, just to read a tech sheet. It's gotten increasingly slower as they add idiotic things like update scans that bog the system down with redundant inquiries, and the software steers further away from what it was originally meant to do: Read PDF documents.

      Now as for real innovation, don't hold your breath hoping for it. The market currently depends on a very limited range of hardware, and as long as they're locked into established standards, they won't truly become innovative. Add to that the hobbling of VC funded "innovations", which never take off due to the incapacity of CEOs to look at the big picture (as evidenced from IBM's first taste of the microprocessor, without the slightest idea of what to do with it).

      At least until they learn to, and this should be the mantra: Invent.
      • by sh4de (93527)
        Pagemaker was a desktop publishing app that basically put Adobe on the map, despite it's being released at a time when there were multiple companies making various flavors of SOHO publishing solutions. Other than the GUI and certain key tools, it wasn't really that innovative, and Adobe can easily be accused of "ripping off" other software companies.

        Uhm, Pagemaker was originally made by Aldus. Adobe got Pagemaker by buying Aldus and killing off the company. Now Adobe is trying to kill Pagemaker itself with their Indesign.

        Also, the same applies to Photoshop. One could easily claim as well that it was almost a direct rip of MacPaint when it first came out. Once again, other than the GUI and key tools, it wasn't that innovative, there were hundreds of paint/edit programs on the market.

        Photoshop succeeded because it was made by photographers (the Knoll brothers) for photographers. It could handle CMYK separations, crucial for any prepress work.

  • Discussion (Score:5, Funny)

    by anshil (302405) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @07:21AM (#4598334) Homepage
    Bill: Come on Steve, let's prepare for tomorrow evening.

    Steve: Why Bill, what are we going to do tomorrow evening?

    Bill: The same as every evening, we try to take of the world! (whispers: Total world domination is also your friend.)
  • Immediate Stock Hit? (Score:5, Informative)

    by devnullkac (223246) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @07:30AM (#4598374) Homepage

    I can't read the slashdotted article right now, but if by "immediate hit" they mean that the stock jumped almost 12% in one day, they're right. Of course, maybe that's just related to their confirmation of projected 4th quarter earnings.

  • Workflow (Score:3, Insightful)

    by panurge (573432) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @07:33AM (#4598386)
    A lot of small publishing operations are only now in the process of moving to a PDF-based workflow. I can just see the big print people and the rip engine designers being absolutely delighted at the prospect of another "standard" (we need a word to describe these non-cooperative standards, one that will get through Net Nanny) to spread FUD.

    In effect, Microsoft depends on its users - largely technology ignorant - to push its technologies into areas of resistance regardless of the problems it causes. It is so like the old IBM that one can only assume the managers read IBM internal memos before bedtime. Except that IBM had better R&D, a wider range of products, and a captive market for mainframes...and it still ended up in trouble.

  • by Qbertino (265505) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @07:38AM (#4598411)
    And now, Ladys and Gentlemen,
    "...a new Microsoft PDF-killer technology..."
    PDF-Killer. Yeah! New Technology! WOOOOP! Developers, developers, developers! Yeah. GIVE IT UP FOR ME! Dig it. WHO TOLD YOU TO SIT DOWN??? *hopping, screeching, headbutting and making satan-finger-sighns*

    Dear Stockbrokers, M$ CEOs and Marketeers, what ever you smoked, don't ever offer me anything of it.
    "PDF-Killer"...I just don't believe all this. Is this just me or the world or /., or whatever?
  • by ICantType (568236) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @07:56AM (#4598467)

    For all you guys trying to read the article and cannot, here some more infos: The actual announcement is about a month old. Here's [internetnews.com] one story on internetnews (ty to /. this) covering this; and a follow-up [internetnews.com]. An alternative story can be found at Betanews [betanews.com].

    BTW, creating XML-documents out of M$-Word-documents is not a new idea. Check out icoya WordXML [struktur.de] (click solutions, than icoya WordXML). It is a high performance extension for Microsoft Word in order to convert content easily into the open, format-neutral and manufacturer-independent XML format.

  • by g4dget (579145) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @08:02AM (#4598493)
    XDocs seems to be mostly about forms. Many businesses already use forms in Microsoft Word format; XDocs, being XML based, has to be better than that dreadful format.

    Adobe tried to make PDF widely used for that purpose but failed. And that's quite fortunate: PDF's page oriented format isn't all that hot for on-line forms either.

  • by Bazzargh (39195) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @08:11AM (#4598524)
    XDoc s [microsoft.com] as others have pointed out is a forms technology, not a competitor with PDF in all areas. However, Adobe purchased Accelio [accelio.com] earlier in the year, who make a forms authoring and serving product (formerly known variously as FormFlow, ReachForms, RichForms); Adobe just relaunched the product line a week ago, realigning the company somewhat around server products.

    Hence the impact of this announcement. If you've actually used the Accelio stuff (and I have, a lot) you'll know that it could be massively improved upon; other [scansoft.com] products [mozquito.com] are biting at their heels already.

    So MS weighs in immediately after Adobe's fanfare and says they're going to enter the market (note that XDocs does not even have a release date yet!) - its hardly surprising that Adobe's stock takes a hit.
  • by jmv (93421) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @08:16AM (#4598541) Homepage
    Many enhancements over PDF, including:
    - Windows-only support
    - Enforces "Digital Restrictions Management"
    - Break the format at every new Office version
    - EULA that gives MS copyright for all your documents ...but unfortunately with MS marketing it might even catch on :(
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @08:28AM (#4598573)
    XDocs has almost nothing to do with pdf. Please read the article or the description of xdocs on MS site.

    It is basically a way to create a front-end for XML docs or XML web services. This way, a user can say, well this field is a drop-down and this one is a date field and this is how I want to arrange it on a screen. While they are doing this, they are linking the fields to nodes in the XML doc.

    Think of it as a MS Access gui front-end tool over an XML source. It's focus is data entry not presentation, exactly the opposite of PDF.

    If you think xdocs and acrobat are equivalent, then the same could be said about any word processor or html editor or desktop publishing tool, etc.

    Article:
    ---
    XDocs vs. Adobe:
    POSTEDON 2002-10-31 13:07:47 by Linux Format Admin

    Microsoft hyperdaz writes "Two weeks ago Microsoft announced XDocs, a new application that will be part of the upcoming Office 11 suite.

    XDocs, according to Microsoft, will make it easier to create richly formatted online forms, and to simplify the collection of form data. Because it uses XML, XDocs form data should integrate with a variety of data repositories with relative ease.

    The first reaction from tech pundits was to proclaim that a mortal blow had been struck against Adobe, the PDF file format, and Adobe's Acrobat family of PDF manipulation products. Adobe's stock took an immediate hit, and some analysts went so far as to compare Adobe to erstwhile MS competitor Netscape.

    It's a bit premature to be ringing alarm bells for Adobe, though. XDocs will be a strong challenge to certain facets of Acrobat, but there are significant differences between the two products, and where they are similar, Adobe is in a position to put up a good fight.

    XDocs's obvious challenge to Acrobat is in the online forms market.

    In that narrow field, it's clear why XDocs is perceived as a threat: Forms, by their nature, require a client and a server. Between their virtual lock on the office productivity suite market and the popularity of SQL Server, Exchange, and the rest of the .Net server products, Microsoft can address both sides of the forms equation.

    While PDF forms can be integrated with backend sources like SAP and PeopleSoft, XDocs forms will be able to do this as well, according to Microsoft, and if XDocs is deeply integrated into Exchange and other .Net server components, as it most likely will be, Microsoft will have a significant selling point.

    While Acrobat Reader may be everywhere, it's safe to say that it probably isn't used as often as Office, and Microsoft could gain an advantage in the forms market simply by producing a well designed, easy-to-use product with a user interface that's familiar and inviting to people who already use the other Office products regularly. Adobe's defense against this has been to make it possible to create PDFs from any application, including Office. How these differences will work out competitively remains to be seen, and depend on how well XDocs is executed, and how well both Adobe and Microsoft educate potential customers.

    But it's important to remember that most people don't use PDFs for online forms--in fact, many people aren't aware that they even can be used for that purpose. The most common use of PDF is to securely distribute documents that can be viewed and printed consistently across different platforms. XDocs, judging from Microsoft's announcements to date, doesn't address these features, and for the foreseeable future Adobe has this market to itself. What this means is that XDocs is unlikely to take market share away from PDF--what Microsoft appears to be trying to do is limit the growth of PDF, because PDF's true strengths in secure document distribution and printing remain unchallenged.

    Well before the XDocs announcements, though, Adobe was expanding the forms functionality of PDF.

    "PDF is evolving beyond a document format, and is now a rich information container," according to Julie McEntee, Director of Product Management for Adobe. As part of that effort Adobe recently announced a new, more forms-friendly version of Acrobat Reader, and beefed up its line of PDF server products. And PDF has supported XML for a number of years."
    ---
  • by thing12 (45050) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @09:07AM (#4598717) Homepage
    It's a just an editor and toolkit to put forms on your company intranet (and probably later the Internet) to gather data. That's all it is - not a PDF killer - not even a PDF competitor. From Microsoft's XDocs web site [microsoft.com]:

    "XDocs," a code name for the newest member of the Microsoft Office family, streamlines the process of gathering information by enabling teams and organizations to easily create and work with rich, dynamic forms. The information collected can be integrated with a broad range of business processes because XDocs supports any customer-defined XML schema and integrates with XML Web services. As a result, XDocs helps to connect information workers directly to organizational information and gives them the ability to act on it, which leads to greater business impact.

    Does that sound like a pdf killer to you? Does it even sound like they're after the same market? Sure they're using XML and they're making "documents" - still sounds more like Lotus Notes than Acrobat. But who uses Acrobat/PDF to collect data? Yes, there are forms in PDF, but the implementation is not nearly flexible enough to build a data collection application, nor can you build decent data collection apps around MS Word.

    XDocs is designed to work with any customer-defined XML schema. Where's the proprietary nature there? You give it your proprietary schema and then you use it to build forms to collect data into that schema. All Microsoft is doing is implementing a framework to easilly collect and present information. This is exactly what Lotus Notes was doing more than 5 years ago, only with XDocs the collected data is stored using your XML DTD instead of Lotus's proprietary NSF format. I'm sure Microsoft will extend it to the web - just using an XSL transform to change the XDoc into HTML and collect your data that way.

    None of this prevents you from using a PDF to archive resulting documents. To be sure, you can probably embed an XDoc form into an XML dataset and view the resulting file with an XDoc viewer - but that's still one more app that everyone needs, and PDF is still the best portable format for archiving all sorts of documents and images. XDoc just collects information. Yes... all very insidious of Microsoft. A PDF killer.. I don't think so. I don't even see it as a PDF competitor.

  • Not needed (Score:5, Funny)

    by Ed Avis (5917) <ed@membled.com> on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @09:25AM (#4598791) Homepage
    What's the point? Everyone knows that Word documents are the only interchangeable document format you'll ever need.
  • SVG (Score:5, Interesting)

    by srussell (39342) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @11:05AM (#4599371) Homepage Journal
    What might "kill" PDF is the sneaker-technology, SVG. As anyone who's done a lot of SVG knows, SVG is missing support for only one feature that would enable it to replace HTML and PDF -- support for text flow control. The 2.0 version of the SVG spec (4.2/2/2) [w3.org] will include rules for this support.

    Since Adobe itself is heavily into SVG [adobe.com], it (SVG) is positioned to become the leading display document format. This is, in some ways, ironic, because most people think of SVG as an image format.

    Consider:

    1. Autotrace [sourceforge.net] will generate PS (PDF's older brother) and SVG (among other things)
    2. FOP [apache.org] will generate document output as PS, PDF, and SVG (among other things).
    3. Most vector graphics programs for Linux have some SVG support, and Sodipodi [sourceforge.net] uses SVG as its native document format. Open/StarOffice [openoffice.org] will generate SVG as well.
  • Wow! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Pig Hogger (10379) <pig.hogger@noSpaM.gmail.com> on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @11:12AM (#4599417) Homepage Journal
    Wow! Another virus vector!!! Who said innovative technology is dull???
  • XDocs' Potential (Score:4, Informative)

    by LowellPorter (466257) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @11:25AM (#4599500) Journal
    XDocs' potential is not as a PDF killer, but that's the way it could go. The reason MS is using XML is to make it easier for users to exchange data. One user could create an Access database with it and then send it to a user that doesn't have Access. This user could open it up in Excel or Word without doing anything. Right now the sender or receiver would have to do some type of conversion in order to use the data.

    One poster correctly observed that to many users _WORD_ is the computer. XDocs makes users more depenent on Microsoft. Now it'll be easier to share spreadsheets, databases, and other documents... they can do it with one program not several.
  • by Citizen of Earth (569446) on Tuesday November 05, 2002 @12:13PM (#4599795)
    Linux Format reports on a new Microsoft PDF-killer technology to be included in Office 11, called XDocs.

    Why doesn't Microsoft avoid the confusion of a plethora of names with "X" in them and just start calling all of their products "X". Everyone should. "X reports on a new X X-killer technology to be included in X, called X." Of course, it will never run on X.

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