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Microsoft to Introduce PDF competitor 'Metro' 798

RustNeverSleeps writes "Computerworld reports that Microsoft will be including a new document format called 'Metro' with Longhorn. Apparently, Metro is intended to be a competitor to Adobe's PDF and Postscript formats. The format will be open and available for royalty-free licensing, and will be based on XML. Can we expect Microsoft to do this right? If they do, I think it could be a good thing." Reader gsfprez is less optimistic: "... I noticed the main, and probably most important difference between old and busted PDF and new-hotness Metro (besides the Queer Eye styled name)... 'We will offer products based on this next generation RIP technology and make them available under license to printer manufacturers and software integrators worldwide.' Yes, I can see it now - entire industries undoing their time-tested, battle hardend PDF-based workflows with free and open files all for the chance to use patented, pay-for-use Microsoft proprietary workflows, software, and files. Good luck with that, guys."
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Microsoft to Introduce PDF competitor 'Metro'

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  • Royalty free license (Score:5, Interesting)

    by natrius ( 642724 ) * <niran&niran,org> on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @02:24AM (#12356101) Homepage
    If royalty free licenses were enough to get open source reimplementations out of legal murkiness, then no one would be complaining about Mono. I'll suspend judgement on this one until we see what the terms of the license are and what patents Microsoft holds on it.
    • by taniwha ( 70410 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @02:36AM (#12356182) Homepage Journal
      am I wrong in thinking that "Royalty Free" doesn't mean you don't have to pay, just that you don't have to pay per copy - what if it's say $100k to play? then FOSS is SOL
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Yes, you aren't not wrong about not having to pay royalaties.
        • The question is will it be available for Linux like Acrobat is?
          • by johnjones ( 14274 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @09:27AM (#12358209) Homepage Journal
            its just a negotiating tactic

            licence your stuff to us and make a bit of money or we will kill your income stream with a new file format killing your PDF RIP & Acrobat

            (intresting thing is Acrobat sales account for nearly as much as the whole "creative suite" photoshop et al )

            MS are completly unable to produce a decent PDF RIP for windows !

            MS want to write PDF's and have been in talks for a year now with adobe I guess it a new level in those "talks"

            MS thinks that printer Manufacture's are going to incorperate this and not pay adobe for their RIP and yeah its possible that some low end might do it just witness HP and their printing comunication but HP size & time doing this plus where do they make money...

            MS would have to provide these manufacturer's with the software as they are not good at this so MS will do a referance implmentation and those are always great...

            welcome Microsoft to the printing world where they are Big Boys
            sales are slow
            they make alot of money off customer support...

            regards

            John 'RIP me' Jones
    • by rdenisc ( 701667 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @04:14AM (#12356660) Homepage
      Indeed, from Microsoft, "open and available for royalty-free licensing" typically means you can get a non-sublicensable license by sending them a letter. That's how it works for their network protocols stuff. Non-sublicensable meaning that it's not GPL2-compliant.
      • by AviLazar ( 741826 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @09:10AM (#12358037) Journal
        Hey if its free, and all you have to do is fill out a form that has some legal crap about you agreeing to not reverse engineer, give it to your pals, etc. then that is fine. It is still free - and if someone wants it - they can also fill out the form.

        The worst thing would be "It's free" for about two years - and then when the market is almost totally switched to this new format it becomes pay.
    • Hell, if this new format will get rid of the incompatibilities of Microsoft Works and Microsoft Office 95/97/2000/XP I am behind it. If the operating system can natively convert any MS Works or Office document to the new Metro format via wizard or context menu I will actually purchase a copy of Longhorn. I am sick and tired of trying to give a poor explaination as to why a document; rtf, doc, wps, etc, will not open with the copy of the MS app they happen to be using because it was saved with the app on th
      • by Gilmoure ( 18428 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @05:19AM (#12356891) Journal
        I am sick and tired of trying to give a poor explaination as to why a document; rtf, doc, wps, etc, will not open with the copy of the MS app they happen to be using because it was saved with the app on their previous system.

        Heh. We keep a Mac in each of the PC labs, because it can open some of the weirder Works files from pc's and then save them in Office format files. So fucking weird.
  • by smeenz ( 652345 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @02:25AM (#12356108) Homepage
    Hope they don't use .met.. that's already used by emule.

    Or maybe that's the plan.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @02:25AM (#12356111)
    Christ, Microsoft is like my boss - he takes on a million projects and finishes none.
    • Christ, Microsoft is like my boss - he takes on a million projects and finishes none.

      Better than my boss; who starts one project and finishes none.
      • by LarsWestergren ( 9033 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @04:17AM (#12356673) Homepage Journal
        OT -
        Actually, I would take the "one project boss" if I got to choose. He only fails one project. The other projects can be delegated to someone else by management.

        The million project guy on the other hand obfuscates the resources really needed, which is bad for management because they then start other projects. I bet he also hands out tasks to subordinates and won't listen when they say it is impossible to do with the time allocated, so he makes employees life hell too. So he fails a million projects where some of them might have been saved.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @03:00AM (#12356313)
      Well, mostly it's designed to spreat FUD. The aim is to stop people from investing in Adobe. Why would you do that if Microsoft may come along in some years and do a Netscape on them. They will weaken them with insinuation etc. etc. As long as they are able to get away with transferring their monopoly in one product (the O/S) into illegal monopolies in others with no reaction from competition authorities, this will be an effective strategy against anything except for free software.

    • by aixou ( 756713 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @03:41AM (#12356519)
      According to the Winhec keynote, Metro will be an integral part of Longhorn. Apparently, everything printable in Longhorn is a Metro document, or can be made one with ease... hey! Kind of like how everything printable in OS X is a PDF.

      What a coincidence?

      Check out the Winhec keynote [microsoft.com] for even more coincidences. Start about 1 hour and 3 minutes in to get to the Longhorn stuff.
      • Well, we've always been able to print to postscript, in most operating systems; this is just an evolution.
      • According to the Winhec keynote, Metro will be an integral part of Longhorn. Apparently, everything printable in Longhorn is a Metro document, or can be made one with ease... hey! Kind of like how everything printable in OS X is a PDF.

        Or like everything printable on my nearly 20-year-old old Atari ST can be a vector .GEM metafile.

        Metafiles are hardly a new idea (.WMF, Windows MetaFile, anyone?) and Longhorn's rendering subsystem obviously needed some modern way of dumping the data to disk...
    • by SgtChaireBourne ( 457691 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @04:10AM (#12356650) Homepage
      Assuming anyone still has some computing magazines from 5 or 10 years ago, it is possible to compare the hype and sales brochures for NT and 2000 to what was actually delivered. That would give a baseline on what to expect from "Shorthorn". It may also give a good base for customers who've been burned by pricing, licensing or security issues to file with the Better Business Bureau. I mean everyone who bought into Software Assurance [nwfusion.com] got a good return on investment, right?

      I expect that an alpha version of "Shorthorn" will get pushed out the door in December just to justify claims that it was ready in 2006. The only way for MS to gain marketshare over PDF would be to leverage their desktop monopoly to break into that new market currently occupied by PDF.

      Even if the licensing were just a rubberstamp issue (which it probably isn't) with MS giving the nod till all who request it (which it probably won't), dealing with the paperwork is an unreasonable hurdle and PDF still wins. Publishing is about reaching your audience and that's where a freely available, documented format like PDF comes in. Yes, it's owned by Adobe, but anyone can implement a writer or a reader. Metro fails on that due to licensing restrictions.

  • Too late? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cl191 ( 831857 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @02:26AM (#12356118)
    I think they are a bit late in the game, given that most people are used to PDF and have PDF reader installed already. It's like Firefox, sure it made IE dropped below 90%, that's still a tiny splash and I don't think it will have the chance to become the majority.
    • Re:Too late? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by amliebsch ( 724858 )
      Yes, a PDF reader exists....but for the love of god, it's the most bloated, slow, nag-infested document viewers I've ever used, and it only seems to get worse with each version. Some competition here would be a great thing. And printing to an XML page description format that I can quickly parse? It sounds too good to be true....
      • by grcumb ( 781340 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @02:43AM (#12356227) Homepage Journal

        "Yes, a PDF reader exists....but for the love of god, it's the most bloated, slow, nag-infested document viewers I've ever used, and it only seems to get worse with each version."

        Wow, those are pretty strong things to say about Ghostview.

        8^)

    • Re:Too late? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Compenguin ( 175952 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @03:01AM (#12356322)
      > I think they are a bit late in the game, given that most people are used to PDF and have PDF reader installed already. It's like Firefox, sure it made IE dropped below 90%, that's still a tiny splash and I don't think it will have the chance to become the majority.

      Netscape had massive market share before IE was bundled with windows. Bundling with windows can do excellent things to your market share.
      • by ta bu shi da yu ( 687699 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @03:33AM (#12356483) Homepage
        Firstly, Microsoft was dealing with a universal format - HTML. Sure, they may have buggered it up or extended it, but BOTH Netscape and Microsoft needed to deal with that format. In this case, Microsoft is trying to introduce a new format that noone has adopted yet. I don't think it's going to fly - people have too much invested in Adobe's PDF and PS formats.
        • by Compenguin ( 175952 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @04:20AM (#12356691)
          > Firstly, Microsoft was dealing with a universal format - HTML. Sure, they may have buggered it up or extended it, but BOTH Netscape and Microsoft needed to deal with that format. In this case, Microsoft is trying to introduce a new format that noone has adopted yet. I don't think it's going to fly - people have too much invested in Adobe's PDF and PS formats.

          When Metroviewer is shipped with Longhorn and XPSP3, pdf producers will see that they can switch to Metro and the majority if their audience will need no extra software whatsoever. Couple this with the 80/20 rule (about 80 percent of pdf creators use 20 percent of the feature set) then a free beer Metro export bundled with MS Office will seem very attractive to them.
          • The thing about PDF is the sheer number of platforms that there is a reader for.

            A quick look at the Acrobat download page:

            OS/2
            Palm OS (Windows or Mac installer)
            PocketPC
            SymbianOS
            WinXP
            WinME
            Wi n 98NT
            Win98
            Win95
            Win_3.1
            Mac OS X 10.2.8
            Mac OS X 10.2.2
            Mac OS 9.1
            Mac OS 8.6
            Mac OS pre_8.6
            Mac OS 68K
            Linux
            Solaris
            AIX

            Now, is Microsoft aiming to produce readers or authoring for more than a fraction of those systems? I doubt it.

            So this isn't a PDF killer.
      • Re:Too late? (Score:3, Insightful)

        Netscape had massive market share before IE was bundled with windows. Bundling with windows can do excellent things to your market share.

        True, but there is a big difference: at the time MS included IE in Windows, there weren't THAT many people online. That came after. And all those new people started with IE. In the PDF/Metro case, however, all those people currently online ALREADY use PDF, and have Acrobat Reader installed. Of course, MS will be able to push their own format, but it will only start to bl

      • Re:Too late? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by strider44 ( 650833 )
        PDF is mostly used by academics. Scientists use it almost exclusively. Normal people usually use .doc or something equally (note: my opinion as a linux user!) ridiculous.

        Even bundling it with windows won't affect the academic community because

        1) Academics want to share knowledge to absolutely everyone
        and
        2) All computers can read PDFs, but not all computers use Windows.

        Given this, I think that this Metro won't make too much of a splash unless it has support for a very wide range of systems.
  • by kilox ( 774253 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @02:27AM (#12356121)
    Why has it become to stylish to be Metro now?
  • Doing it right... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by symbolic ( 11752 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @02:28AM (#12356124)
    The format will be open and available for royalty-free licensing, and will be based on XML. Can we expect Microsoft to do this right?

    No. Royalty-free licensing still allows them to place restrictions. And as for XML, so what? Word documents are in XML format, but the XML only encapsulates a bunch of stuff that's still proprietary and inaccesible. Lastly, the last thing anyone needs is another document format owned by a monopoly.
    • by TractorBarry ( 788340 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @05:48AM (#12357000) Homepage
      Well said.

      The only reason to use a computer is to manipulate and store data. If your data is being held in someone elses proprietary, secret, format then you risk losing your own data.

      Or as I like to think of it it's like putting your swag in someone elses safe where you haven't got the key. Fine as long as they "play nicely" but what happens when they suddenly decide you can't have your stuff back without paying an enormous fee ? Or that you now have to pay them large maintenance fees for them to keep storing your stuff ? Or in the worst case where they sell the safe to "a big band gang" who now insist this means they own your stuff too ?

      So I think it's a very bad idea. Very bad indeed.

      Insisiting on open formats and open standards also means everyone has to compete on a level playing field. This can only encourage developers/companies to focus more on the quality of the software they produce in order to stand out from the competition.

      So once again all I can say to Microsoft is "thanks, but no thanks".
  • And this is why... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by carterhawk001 ( 681941 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @02:29AM (#12356129) Journal
    Adobe fears MS?

    They spend nearly $4Billion to buy Macromedia, and MS comes out with the half-crap document format??

    Honestly now, someone go slap some sense into Adobe, MS will never be able to make even a dent in Adobe's market share.
    • by gordo3000 ( 785698 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @03:12AM (#12356371)
      but your forgetting,
      if microsoft makes a metro document editor included in ms word, which almost all businesses have, then most businesses will have no need to ever use adobe again. All they need is for metro to be almost as good and then creatively get it on every computer out there. Then everyone will be able to read and edit the document. After Adobe is dead, they can start to charge for a "full featured" document editor and leave simple edits and reading to word(or as a stand alone program). Either way, they can use this to kill adobe pretty damn easily.

      It helps when your stuff comes pre-installed. YOu just need to bundle it right to kill off competition.

      of course, this is all banking on their ability to come out with a format that is at least almost as good at pdf. But if they do, it will still take a few years to begin unseating Adobe because businesses are slow to change even with incentives.
      • I'm not saying that's not possible, it sound pretty likely even. However, I think that there is a good chance that it would violate some Anti-Trust laws somewhere.

        I'd wager a large sum of money that someone was pull a lawsuit at some point. Probably about the same time market share and/or revenue for Adobe from Acrobat type products nose-dives.

        Adobe still have some pretty useful products outside of Acrobat. They're not exactly a one-trick pony. (C/f Netscape).

        Even IBM survived the non-success of OS/2 aga
      • by Viceice ( 462967 )
        You're ALSO forgetting.

        You have remember what PDF is and whats being used to create it.

        PDF is an extension of postscript, where is allows to go from creation to distribution in a WYSIWYG format. Most people who need strict WYSIWYG in their documents won't be using any of MS offerings (including publisher) in the first place in creating said documents as it's piss poor at retaining it's layout and formatting.

        So maybe your typical office drone who thinks every slideshow is a PowerPoint presentation will us
      • by pyrotic ( 169450 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @05:39AM (#12356972) Homepage
        PDF will still occupy the high end. Most $1,000+ printers understand postscript and PDF natively, and even if these presses/printers are firmware upgradable, who wants another page description language? Especially if most of your graphics/pre-press people use Macs anyway and can't use Metro. Sorry, just because it's XML and doesn't have %% signs everywhere doesn't make it a worthwhile page description language.

        Microsoft tried to butt in on Adobe's turf before with Truetype, but no one (or at least, no one important) does Truetype font libraries, Bitstream, Monotye et al all make their fonts type 1 postscript.
        • by peragrin ( 659227 )
          You mentioned $1,000 plus printers but the ones that won't switch are the $100,000 pls printers. You don't switch document formats to an untested one in a press that costs that much.
        • by 1u3hr ( 530656 )
          PDF will still occupy the high end. Most $1,000+ printers understand postscript and PDF natively, and even if these presses/printers are firmware upgradable, who wants another page description language? Especially if most of your graphics/pre-press people use Macs anyway and can't use Metro. Sorry, just because it's XML and doesn't have %% signs everywhere doesn't make it a worthwhile page description language.

          I guess the target will be the low-end printers, those GDI-based ones that only work with propri

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @06:58AM (#12357209)
        Microsoft kill Adobe? You have to be shitting me.

        Sorry, they're big, but not that big.

        Adobe are greater than just PDF, for a start. There are numerous professional publications that have moved from Quark Xpress to Indesign of late, and they now own all of the following as well:

        * Photoshop, the defacto standard for photo editing software.
        * Fireworks (as of the last week), the only serious competition Photoshop has for web developers.
        * Illustrator, arguably the industry-standard vector graphics package.
        * Freehand, one of the major competitors to Illustrator.
        * Dreamweaver, the only thing that has come close to a web development IDE/WYSIWYG editor of any sizable distinction or market share. First person to say "Frontpage" gets laughed at long and loud.

        And they won't kill PDF, either. Every single professional printer accepts PDF. When I submit adverts to magazines for publication, they go in as PDFs. When I get proofs back, they come as PDF.

        People have a lot of money invested in the PDF infrastructure. If they're doing anything serious with publishing, PDF is it. That won't change just because Microsoft give away a free reader with the OS. Many printers and designers use Apple machines or the occasional Sun machine running the hardware, at least over here. Professional printing is a fuck of a lot more complex than just pressing "print" and having the right drivers installed, and the professionals are already over the hurdles of implementing PDF importing and printing on their (extremely expensive) hardware. Why would they switch?

        Microsoft haven't a chance of damaging the professional position PDF has. They should be more worried about whether Adobe will bother to implement import facilities in Indesign for their new format. Which I doubt, as Adobe has money invested in SVG and still doesn't have particularly top-notch SVG import in many of their packages. I suspect they'd have to get in the queue.
  • PDF is A-OK (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sockonafish ( 228678 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @02:30AM (#12356135)
    There's nothing wrong with PDFs. I can create and open PDFs easily and speedily in OS X with Preview.

    Acrobat Reader, however, is like an eighty year old woman behind the wheel of an otherwise useful and speedy automobile. Why does Preview take a a matter of milliseconds to do what takes Acrobat fifteen seconds or more?

    Oh yeah, there's no dobut that Metro is going to be Trusted Computing Friendly.
    • Re:PDF is A-OK (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Animats ( 122034 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @02:34AM (#12356164) Homepage
      Why does Preview take a a matter of milliseconds to do what takes Acrobat fifteen seconds or more?

      Just think of all the extra things Acrobat has to do.

      • Load ads from Yahoo into toolbar.
      • Load and verify the "webbuy.dll" DRM system.
      • Load the PDF form management system.
      • Check with Adobe for updates.
      • Check with Adobe for more products to try to sell you. ("There's more to Acrobat than the Reader!")
      • Coming soon: Acrobat/Flash interaction. At last, animated PDFs!
      • by tesmako ( 602075 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @03:41AM (#12356516) Homepage
        Coming soon: Acrobat/Flash interaction. At last, animated PDFs!

        Correct except for the "Coming soon:".

      • Re:PDF is A-OK (Score:3, Informative)

        ... support the full features of PDF, such as ICC colour management, PDF 1.4 transparency, etc etc etc .

        Preview is nice and all, but far from a perfect PDF viewer. It cuts a lot of corners.
    • Re:PDF is A-OK (Score:4, Informative)

      by ahunter ( 48990 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @03:56AM (#12356577)
      If you don't like acrobat, there [foxitsoftware.com] are some alternatives [visagesoft.com] for Windows that might be worth a try, not to mention stuff like GhostScript, xpdf, etc.
  • by Dark Coder ( 66759 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @02:30AM (#12356136)
    Conked (W3C-CSS), Embrace (WinMedia-DRM), Hijack (MIT-Kerberos), engulf (Active Directory), and discard (NetBEUI).

    How about open, free (as in beer) for a change?
  • that's not "open" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cahiha ( 873942 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @02:30AM (#12356139)
    An XML-based PDF-alternative is a good idea. However, a format is not "open" if it is "available for licensing". "Available for licensing" implies that the creator of the format retains some control, and that is not acceptable, no matter who the company is that created the format.

    Microsoft seems to have trouble with the concept of "open"; perhaps that's not too surprising, since Sun, traditionally one of the strongest proponents of open systems and formats, has developed trouble in their understanding of "open" as well since they came out with Java.

    • It's called OASIS, but you probably think of it as "OpenOffice". Now here's a tough question: why didn't Microsoft simply adopt OASIS? (-: There are even working implementations available (called OpenOffice and KOffice) to get them started. :-)
  • That's Microsoft (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nacka ( 114491 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @02:30AM (#12356141)
    It doesn't matter if we from the outside can see the complete nuttiness of switching a pdf-based workflow to a MS-the-root-of-all-evil-based workflow. This will succeed, just as Word has succeeded to be the de-facto document standard in every organisation and corporation out there, it's from the same guys who does the rest of the complex shit inside my harddrive. I hear management people saying 'synergetic effects' and we all know what happens when they use that language. Common sense is out the door and stupidity is governor.
  • Of course (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ManoMarks ( 574691 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @02:31AM (#12356151) Journal
    As everyone predicted, as in every market that Microsoft has entered, they are doomed to failure right from the start.

    Wait...

  • Adobe (Score:3, Insightful)

    by someguy456 ( 607900 ) <someguy456@phreaker.net> on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @02:32AM (#12356152) Homepage Journal

    And just recently, when Adobe aquired Macromedia [slashdot.org], slashdotters everywhere had to ask: why? [slashdot.org]

    One of Adobe's flagship products (bonus points for naming the other), will now be directly threatened by M$, and so it must do its best and diversify.

  • It is amazing.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @02:34AM (#12356162) Journal
    how many Windows based companies end up being a competitor to MS. Then the same company stays and competes in MS's backyard, with their billions of dollars that they can afford to lose, and thinks that they can win! Such companies as Intuit (who has only one product that is profitable; turbo tax), Adobe (who will come under extreme pressures from MS as MS includes more of their new stuff in Windows for free), Oracle/SAP (who will soon be competing against a reved up MS with all sorts of Business software available for free).
  • Because-- (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MilenCent ( 219397 ) * <johnwh&gmail,com> on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @02:41AM (#12356216) Homepage
    I think Microsoft feels it's important to do this because PDF is becoming a truly universal format, and they want to jump onto the bandwagon without giving Adobe any credit in any way for it.

    Now, PDF is a first-class file format in OS-X, and OpenOffice can create them fairly easily. Building PDF capability into Word must strike Microsoft as being just a little too interoperable.

    The format will be open and available for royalty-free licensing, and will be based on XML.

    Um, the words "open" and "licensing" are not compatible. Not in my book leastways.

    Can we expect Microsoft to do this right? If they do, I think it could be a good thing.

    How come? What is there that Metro can do that PDF, or for that matter Word combined with Wordviewer, can't? I guess it would be nice to have OS support for a portable document format, but does Microsoft really have to invent an entirely new format to do that?
  • Sigh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @02:41AM (#12356217)
    Seriously Microsoft, with your thousands upon thousands of talented (paid) programmers and with the deadline of Longhorn constantly being pushed back, is it at all possible for you to do something that is not

    a) Reinventing the wheel
    b) Taking someone else's idea and repackaging it
    c) 100 steps behind what open source is already doing.
    d) Inconsequencal to your only major release, Longhorn.

    So what if Longhorn introduces a new document format? Within 5 minutes of running it I bet we'll all find something MS could of spent better their time on.
  • Yawn (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SuperBigGulp ( 177180 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @02:48AM (#12356247)

    I don't know if this will catch on or not, and I don't really care.

    What bugs me about this is that MS is the largest software company in the world, with a huge research budget, and one of their best ideas is to come up with an alternative to existing de jure standard. Is this really the best use of R & D resources?

    Come on people, there are real and interesting problems to be solved in software development and usability...use your powers for good.

  • by eviltoni ( 878975 ) <toni@bloodshotlens.com> on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @02:56AM (#12356287)
    A program that will likely run slower and crash more often than Acrobat is exactly what I needed in my life.
  • by victim ( 30647 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @02:57AM (#12356289)
    It won't matter for short documents, but for large documents XML will have problems with random access.

    PDF is very carefully laid out so that you can perform random access to the document and even download only those parts which you wish to read as you read them.

    The offsets are a bit of a nusiance for the code that writes PDF, but aside from that it's a very clean format.

    Beyond that, XML encoded documents will be larger. One would think that a gzip type encoding would thrive on the intense repetition in XML tags, but in practice they have a pretty signification impact on compressed file size. PDF is a terse encoding to begin with and supports zipping internally so it is invisible to users, plus the random access still works on the zipped content.

    I'm more than willing to assess the merits of the two formats when both of them are real, but for now my money is on the format designed for efficient encoding and access to documents rather than the one designed to use the trending encoding format of the decade.
  • It is a good idea to be wary of licenses that are royalty free. Every document that has a license, free or not, allows Microsoft, or any company that owns that license to have a foothold in your life.

    You don't have to pay for MetroReader version 1 or 2, but MetroReader version 3 might not be free, and they also might change the format slightly, and suddenly you're a Word '97 user in a Word 2000 world.

    And then guess what? You have to wait for OpenMetro to reverse engineer the format so you can read Metro documents without MetroReader, because Microsoft decided not to freely license the format to Sun Microsystems.

    PDF is here, it's open, it works well, it's already integrated into many businesses, and regardless of how much you hate Adobe Reader, the format itself is good. There's no reason to switch.
  • Graphic Studios? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AngryElmo ( 848385 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @03:22AM (#12356425)
    So tell me how this is going to work in a Studio-print environment.

    You've got all of these Mac operators, busily using Adobe Indesign and sending print ads out to magazines and newspapers in the required eps or hi-res PDF format (that MUST be generated by original Adobe products for QA purposes). Then along comes Metro and this somehow competes with Adobe.

    How? Adobe make no money from Adobe reader and for the creation of PDF's for the non-publishing industry there have been numerous free (gratis) and/or alternative tools for years. Is Microsoft going to create a killer design tool as well? And for the Mac to boot, coz those graphic artists aint going to swap.

    No. What will happen is this becomes just another Microsoft feature that no other platform/tool will be able to support and we will have yet another reader that we have to load up...
  • Oh dear... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @03:33AM (#12356478)
    Microsoft - Reinventing the wheel, one program at a time.
  • by Morrowyn ( 720232 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @03:46AM (#12356533)
    build it right deep into the os and ms is settled
  • Microsoft PR Week (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pecisk ( 688001 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @03:48AM (#12356541)
    Or is this? I just start to wonder how paid Microsoft PR people are here on Slashdot with the aim to push such articles trough? Because OS X is out? Because Apple is gaining ground?

    I just wonder :)
    • Re:Microsoft PR Week (Score:3, Informative)

      by EddWo ( 180780 )
      It's WinHEC, Windows Hardware Engineering Conference, they are making lots of announcements regarding 64bit Windows, Longhorn etc and the press is reporting on them. WinHEC happens every year and the date for WinHEC was set long before Tiger's release date was annouced.
  • by wombatmobile ( 623057 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @04:16AM (#12356670)

    There already is an XML based WYSIWYG document format that does everything PDF does and more, the W3C's open standard, SVG.

    SVG already works [svgmaker.com] with all Windows programs.

  • by Fussen ( 753791 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @04:20AM (#12356692)
    So not only does Microsoft push it's ways around the software industry, it also has to start affecting the very fundamentals of our society.

    My guff is the name "Metro"

    metro [reference.com]

    n : electric underground railway


    How about they create their own name for their format that doesn't have to rely on complicating the English dictionary even further.

    Since when was an underground train and a bunch of documents the same thing? Windows had some sort of metaphysical relationship, you had little windows. Windows of space, windows of opportunity, windows with things in them. Apple Computers has an Apple (representative of fruit) so that you at least can relate to the word.

    I could be preaching to a deaf audience, but I truly believe that linking so many things to single words just starts erroding our language basics. I truly think we could do a far better job of respecting our naming conventions in the real world and actually create naming conventions in the virtual world.

    Let me use the Portable Document Format for example. It's called Portable Document Format. Good for that. That's what it is. Very long name, but it makes sense and it is not contradicting the diction rules. "PDF" is fast 3 letters to punch in on the keyboard. Sounds Peedee Eff.

    Peedee Eff doesn't exist in English. It's not even English restricted. French sounds "Pay Day Eff". Sure the derivatives do come from the English title "Portable Document Format" but those derivatives ("PDF" spoken) do not intentionally override the language base.

    Final line is: Don't let corporations define what your world is. Let your world define what corporations are.
  • by alizard ( 107678 ) <alizardNO@SPAMecis.com> on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @04:29AM (#12356723) Homepage
    If you want a REALLY superior document format that makes PDF look like something out of the Old Stone Age, check out DJVU. It's a seriously cool format that practically nobody knows about.

    What it is/does

    Info from DJVUZONE [djvuzone.org]:

    DjVu (pronounced "déjà vu") is a new image compression technology developed since 1996 at AT&T Labs to solve precisely that problem. DjVu allows the distribution on the Internet of very high resolution images of scanned documents, digital documents, and photographs. DjVu allows content developers to scan high-resolution color pages of books, magazines, catalogs, manuals, newspapers, historical or ancient documents, and make them available on the Web. . . . and white documents. Scanned pages at 300 DPI in full color can be compressed down to 30 to 100KB files from 25MB.. Black-and-white pages at 300 DPI typically occupy 5 to 30KB when compressed. This puts the size of high-quality scanned pages within the realm of an average HTML page (which is typically around 50KB).

    How to get it

    Viewers are available for Win/Mac/Linux.

    The Linux package DJVUlibre [djvuzone.org] allows both viewing and DJVU document creation and is Open Source. It is available for most major Linux distros, source, Solaris, cygwin and may be available for automated installation by whatever method your distro uses.

    LizardTech (ABSOLUTELY NO RELATION) provides the free downloadable Mac/Win viewers, and sells Win/Mac DJVU creation tools. (either above URL)

    However, there are also free document conversion [djvuzone.org] sites [djvuzone.org], upload various file formats (e.g. PDF, images) and get back .DJVUs.

    Check it out.

    • by mikers ( 137971 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @11:20AM (#12359517)
      I have to chime in on this. I've been using it for probably about a year now. It works great.

      About 2 years ago, I decided I had too much paper, and that I couldn't find any important papers amoung the bunch. Being a packrat, I decided scanning was the way to go.

      I bought a used Fujitsu M3097g+ off ebay for about $100 with document feeder and got started.

      I can generate .tiff pictures (about 1.3M per letter size) which is too big. Using tiff2pdf and other tools I can get that down to about 50-120K per letter size page (using g4 compression).

      Using djview I can get it down to around 13-25K. Thats right, like 25-40% the size of a similar PDF (or less). Plus djvu has technology to cleanup fly-specs and noise on pictures to improve compression.

      djvu does color, or black and white and conversion is pretty fast. Plus, djvu documents are just a concatenation of complete single files: you can open up, unpack and add, remove or rearrange all the pages in the file. So, I can continuously append pages a larger djvu file over months as I scan them. That is difficult to do with PDF.

      And its open source. The free tools will remain free, and there are enough tools available for reading, creating and manipulating files.

  • by theolein ( 316044 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @04:38AM (#12356755) Journal
    A few years ago, when Adobe canned Premier for the Mac on OSX because Adobe was all in a huff about Apple competing with them with Final Cut Pro, was the time when Adobe started developing primarily for Windows. Photoshop 7 and Illustrator 10 were superb on my WinXP laptop at work, but they sucked big, hairy, sweaty, donkey balls on OSX, being slow, not fitting in with the OS HI guides very well and above all, being drastically late to the platform.

    At the time (Mac OSX 10.1) one could have had the distinct impression that Adobe had given up on the Mac platform and was only developing for those die hards in the pre-press and printing industry. And since then, Adobe has brought out new tools, such as that Audio app (ex Cool Edit Pro) which are Windows only. Even Acrobat, that bloated piece of pig fat, ran better on Windows.

    Then, it seemed as if Adobe realised that OSX was surprisingly (to them and their utterly clueless marketing staff) making big gains rapidly, and lo and behold, The CS set is much better in its OSX integration.

    But what makes me really laugh is that Adobe is suddenly being faced with a major competitor to one of its main cash cows (PDF is used in governments and official papers worldwide), and this by no less than Microsoft which has both the resources and the time to slowly bring printer makers to write drivers for it and to let it slowly gain acceptance. Microsoft is about the only company that can afford to let this Metro thing flop through three versions until it gains traction.

    I bet you the people in Mountain View (Adobe), are crapping themselves. This could be one of the reasons they bought Macromedia, in order to have Flash as a barganing chip with MS.
  • Another battle won (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nagora ( 177841 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @04:54AM (#12356795)
    So, finally Microsoft have admitted defeat in the Word Vs PDF battle. After years of simply refusing to support PDF in their products they have decided that the world simply doesn't care what they think - PDF is the document interchange format, at least for finished documents.

    MS never supported PDF because they wanted to lock everyone into using Word and its format(s) as the way to pass documents around. Never mind that it was a load of crap for such purposes, quality has never figured in MS's designs and probably never will.

    So, now that MS has admitted that the world not only wants, but is using someone else's format (a nice, open format) are they going to get with the mainstream and give their customers what they clearly want? Fuck no. Microsoft didn't get where it is today by listening to customers: customers are there to milk via lock-in. Does the farmer ask the cows when they'd like slaughtered?

    Instead they've decided, as usual, to tell the customers what they want: a new, propriety document format to solve all the problems they're currently solving with PDF.

    In other words, just like Sparkle, Microsoft's response to the market is to pick another battle it can't win. To win, it would have to be addressing some lack in the current offering that has the potential to create a new market they can exploit, but the only lack is one MS sees: revenue from making portable documents. The rest of the world is already making them and has little interest in the "problem". So, basically, the market for Microsoft's new format is...Microsoft itself. So, who cares?

    It's good to see Bill lose one occasionally.

    TWW

  • by Spoing ( 152917 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @05:29AM (#12356935) Homepage
    Remember...no, of course 1/2 of you didn't; you were 5!

    OK...for you kiddies out there; Way back in the 90s, Adobe charged an arm and a leg for Postscript ($1,000/printer) and Postscript fonts were expensive. Apple complained. Microsoft complained. Everyone buying a printer complained or wished for a cheap Postscript printer so !!#@$!$ would look right when they printed. Adobe held firm.

    Apple decided along with Microsoft to change part of the problem...Postscript fonts. Jointly, they developed TrueType. Adobe held firm...till it was obvious that Postscript was in danger. Rates fell on Poscript licences, though it was too late and TrueType fonts became dominate.

    Adobe retrenched and created the Postscript offshoot PDF...and documents became printable and portable again. Adobe became more involved in the detailed document creation process.

    Fast forward to now. Microsoft (by themselves) are attempting to complete the job and take Adobe out of the document creation picture. It's not going to be hard for Microsoft to do it this time. Expect a suite of Metro document editing and processing tools from Microsoft around the time Longhorn is released.

    The only gift in this? You now have a year and a half to two years to plan.

  • Proprietary Features (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dduardo ( 592868 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @07:59AM (#12357490)
    It doesn't matter how open the format is. Once Microsoft starts adding thing like digital watermarks and signing other readers wont be able to read the files. At least Adobe actually ports their code to Linux. We can't expect this from Microsoft.
  • PDF is *not* fine (Score:4, Interesting)

    by esarjeant ( 100503 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @09:27AM (#12358208) Homepage
    The fact is, PDF does serve a purpose but it is not an ideal format by any stretch.

    For those of us doing real work, many sites are now offering PDF "forms" that allow us to complete an online version of a traditionally printed form. Since the form must look exactly as intended, PDF is ideal for this. Unfortunately, it doesn't always function as designed. Some sites don't support Acrobat 7.0 while others require it, and depending on the HTTP content-type then newer versions of Acrobat will simply reject dynamically generated PDF's (they don't end in .PDF and they don't match an application/x-pdf MIME type).

    To make matters even more frustrating, the ever-elusive PDF plugin is required. This means if you happen to not be at your computer, the first thing you need to do is install Acrobat Reader. I can assure you that when using a client's PC this is not always possible.

    For this particular application, I think there is plenty of room for a new format. If Metro can support the same layout capabilities of PDF, and provide simplified XML representations that can run in a standard browser (Firefox, IE, etc.) without a plugin... Then MS might just be on to something.

    Yet another difficulty is the automagical reformatting Acrobat does when you try printing a PDF. If will invariably auto-rotate and shrink-to-fit your document to the page, which is awkward when you are trying to produce something with very tight margins. While Acrobat 7 has addressed this issue, upgrades are not possible for everyone and sometimes you end up cropping pages.

    Again... plenty of room for improvement here, especially for pre-press stuff that may need to get tweaked by a printer before a run.
  • by argent ( 18001 ) <peter.slashdot@2006@taronga@com> on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @10:24AM (#12358745) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft already has a PDF-like document format and a reader called "Microsoft Reader". It's targeted for PDAs, competing head to head with the mobile version of Acrobat Reader. It's based on an XML document format.

    It's the least pleasant eBook reader I have ever used, bar none.

    This bodes. This is just so chock full of boding it scares me.
  • No one has a clue (Score:4, Informative)

    by sweede ( 563231 ) on Wednesday April 27, 2005 @01:51PM (#12361514)
    after reading a good 90% of the posts in this topic, it is apparent that 90% or more of /. has simply NO CLUE what happens in the desktop publishing world and how this will affect the printing industry

    A couple people got it right though, the printing industry (not your pos laserjet or kinko's or even you companys fancy $5000 xerox color laser printer) will not give up the billions of dollars invested in creating the "perfect" PDF workflow. While the Formats used (PDF, Postscript, JDF, CiP3|4 and PPF) are all Free to use, the software used to create them isnt.

    Not only that, to make the a printed product, you need to make lithographic plates, either from film or directly from PDF (CTP). the imagesetters are run by software from Creo (Prinergy or Brisque) or Rampage rips. HUGE money has gone into the purchasing of this equipment (one imagesetter and a single Prinergy server can set you back well over 100k a YEAR + support fee).

    If microsoft wants into this HUGE industry, they need to offer more than just a new file format.

    Adobe offers the most complete page creation suit that there is. While many many people use Quark to actually make the page layout placement, everyone used Illustrator to make the postscript files (export page from Quark, import into Illustrator, print to EPS in illustrator, becuase postscript in quark 4 and 5 is broken).

    This is a waste of time because it'll get lost in teh sea of slashdot stories...

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