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Acrobat-killer Submitted to Standards Body 326

Flying Wallenda writes "Did Adobe make a tactical blunder when it complained to the European Union about Microsoft including support for its XML Paper Specification (XPS) in Windows Vista and Office 2007? Now that Microsoft has decided to submit its 'PDF killer' to a standards-setting organization, Adobe may be regretting its decision. 'Microsoft is looking again at its license in order to make it compatible with open source licenses, which means that the "covenant not to sue" will likely be extended to cover any intellectual property dispute stemming from the simple use or incorporation of XPS. The end result is that using XPS may be considerably more attractive for developers now that the EU has apparently expressed concerns over the license.'"
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Acrobat-killer Submitted to Standards Body

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 16, 2006 @06:54PM (#16460621)
    Assuming this standard is truly open... and compatible with the GPL (like... you don't have to sign agreements with Microsoft to implement it... which is their usual trick)... and has no submarine issues... then why would I care that it's from Microsoft.
  • Adobe is screwed (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DigitlDud ( 443365 ) on Monday October 16, 2006 @06:57PM (#16460649)
    XPS support is being built into new models from all major printer manufacturers. It is lot more modern than PDF/PS and does a better job supporting fancier documents with features like transparencies and gradients. And now apparently its going to be open and standardized as well. It looks like MS nailed this one.
  • by aetherworld ( 970863 ) on Monday October 16, 2006 @06:57PM (#16460657) Homepage
    I wouldn't say that. The original Adobe reader is horrible in my opinion. But the PDF standard is quite solid and implements a lot of useful features, I think.

    Especially the possibilities for inline fonts and ocr'd text using the original font are great.
  • About 6 years ago... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by headkase ( 533448 ) on Monday October 16, 2006 @07:00PM (#16460707)
    This is what mainstream open-source was clamoring for Microsoft to do... Now Microsoft is standardizing a wide variety of code and documents. So good. Ten years from now when a terabyte database seems kind of small but the information in it is marked up in the as standard a form as ASCII is today then processing huge amounts of information will be as easy as it gets. Once information is standardized then it opens the doors to a wide variety of companies to manipulate the information - in effect providing a "service" to the owner of the database. Open-source, closed, doesn't matter when you have standardized tubes connecting modules and information. A network-centric service economy is probably where we'll go but as Niels Bohr said "Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future."
  • by kill-1 ( 36256 ) on Monday October 16, 2006 @07:09PM (#16460825)
    The real interesting thing about XML-based file formats is that you can easliy generate files dynamically, especially with technologies like XSLT.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 16, 2006 @07:11PM (#16460849)
    All the "PDF killers" so far have been aimed at the public's perception of PDF: A screen reader that can preserve layouts and print them. But that perception is very outdated. PDF survives because it isn't just a screen reader, it is a defacto standard for CMYK exchange so that print shops can make color-separated output no matter what app generated it. It also can be interactive, with buttons and multimedia. It supports form fields. Everybody thinks Adobe is Photoshop but really, in terms of revenue, Adobe is Acrobat because Acrobat is used more widely in more ways than can be done with these "PDF killers."

    Does XPS do all that? Does XPS do CMYK? Can XPS generate the equivalent of PDF/X-1a, an ISO standard for advertising specs required by Time Inc. and other big media sites?
  • Re:I love adobe (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gilgongo ( 57446 ) on Monday October 16, 2006 @07:21PM (#16460989) Homepage Journal
    The sheer arrogance, stupidity and breathtaking immaturity of the design of the Acrobat Reader and its supporting products is beyond amazing.

    Some of its features are on the face of it quite good. But forcing reboots, nagging the user to pay for inexplicable "enhancements"... shifting vocabulary across releases, random "features" that offer no value to anyone... it's just painful, painful software.

    If Microsoft destroy them and in the process make sure that Vista's impending failure results in us all using nice, slick, GhostScript implementations in the future it will not be a MOMENT too soon.

  • Standards (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jmorris42 ( 1458 ) * <jmorris@NOSPAM.beau.org> on Monday October 16, 2006 @07:33PM (#16461153)
    > XPS support is being built into new models from all major printer manufacturers.

    If so it would be a major reason to support XPS. If it is just some crap in the Windows drivers forget it. Just checked HP's site and didn't see it mentioned.

    The reason it would be great to get it in printers is that it would force it to be a STANDARD, unlike PDF. MP3 is a standard in that any conforming stream will play on any conforming player. New encoders can be developed but the resulting streams must be playable on ANY player adhering to the original MP3 spec. Adobe never figured that out with PDF, requiring a continual upgrade treadmill to newer readers and adding new features in non backwards compatible ways. Even though some printers DO support a version of PDF, it isn't usable for long after purchase.

    If it doesn't get embedded into printers I'd trust Microsoft even less to publish a spec and then stick with it.;
  • by GigsVT ( 208848 ) on Monday October 16, 2006 @07:47PM (#16461297) Journal
    Those that don't learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. Adobe moved from PS (a language) to PDF (a page description language), because making your page description language a programming language has some serious drawbacks.

    Procedural generation of content isn't worth the extra hassle of getting programming language style bugs (stack over/underflows, infinite loops, etc) in your documents.
  • Re:Word Dilution (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pyite ( 140350 ) on Monday October 16, 2006 @07:50PM (#16461323)
    Take the word "hacker" for an example of how words evolve to mean total opposites in a matter of decades.

    This is so true. What's funny is that I read an article in the WSJ during my train ride into NYC one morning and kinda chuckled over the fact that the article said how "hacker" has now gained a good connotation and "it has shed its nefarious undertones." The point of the article was that "hacker" used to mean bad bad computer villain and now it's a term for a clever computer person. What made me laugh is that the author was completely blind to the fact that the original meaning of hacker didnt have a negative connotation associated with it and that really people are just now using it more along the lines of its original meaning (albeit somewhat deviated). I made a mental note to email the author to alert him to this fact. I forgot to do that, but many people didn't. Seems like the MIT folk were the quickest to chime in with comments such as:

    When I was at the Artificial Intelligence lab at MIT in the mid-1960s working for Marvin Minsky, the word "hack" referred to a clever bit of programming: for instance, one might work for several days in order to save a word or two of memory. (In the days before mass online storage, saving a word or two of memory might make the difference between a program running and not running.)


    This is an addition to your history of the words "hack" and "hacker." At MIT, a "hack" has meant (for at least 40 years, maybe more) a very clever, and usually very public, prank. The rules have always been that the hack must be ethical and not do permanent damage. Typically, they require great planning and teamwork (in addition to secrecy) by the students who perpetrate the hack.

    For people with WSJ subscriptions:
    Original Article [wsj.com]
    Readers' Comments [wsj.com]

  • Citation Please (Score:5, Interesting)

    by maggard ( 5579 ) <michael@michaelmaggard.com> on Monday October 16, 2006 @08:05PM (#16461479) Homepage Journal
    XPS support is being built into new models from all major printer manufacturers.


    Name them.

    Seriously, I've been looking. I can't find a reference from any printer maker regarding a model with XPS driver support built in.

    You'd think someone other then Microsoft would be at least mentioning this, unless it were just MS blowing hot air, which we know Waggener Edstrom [waggeneredstrom.com] (MS's PR agency) would never do...

  • by HighPerformanceCoder ( 931732 ) on Monday October 16, 2006 @08:10PM (#16461527)
    I first heard about PDF in 1995, but it wasn't until around 2000 that software existed to actually do stuff with it.

    I still don't do anything in PDF that can't be done in postscript - in fact I still just produce the postscript and only convert to PDF because not many people have heard of postscript.
  • SVG? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 ) on Monday October 16, 2006 @08:22PM (#16461633) Homepage Journal
    I see a lot of posts in this discussion that say XPS is better than PDF, because it's XML and human readable and you can manipulate it with XSLT, it's going to be submitted as a standard, etc. That just makes me think: what about SVG? It's already a standard, it's XML, human readable, XSLT, etc.
  • by griffon666 ( 1005489 ) on Monday October 16, 2006 @08:43PM (#16461879)
    I know it is fashionable among the Slashdot crowd to discount Acrobat as bloatware. Working as a healthcare professional, however, I really appreciate many of the features geeks may discount as bloat:

    Virtually all medical papers are available as PDFs. After downloading these, I can annotate them in Acrobat with comments; Acrobat allows me to highlight important passages. I know geeks do not like DRM, but Acrobat's DRM is why some biomedical e-books are available. Thanks to Acrobat, I carry a little library on my 12" Powerbook complete with my own comments/annotations.

    While it is true that Acrobat lacks a command-line interface and crashes occasionally :) it has revolutionized the way I archive things. I do not keep copies of print journals anymore. Acrobat runs all the time on my machine.
  • Re:Word Dilution (Score:2, Interesting)

    by JoGlo ( 1000705 ) on Monday October 16, 2006 @09:15PM (#16462175)
    I quite agree with the usage and abusage of words in our shared language.

    Gay is another word that has totally changed its meaning. Liberal, Sophisticated (tried a sophisticated wine lately?), for instance, not to mention such subtlties as Freedom Fries, etc.

    A language that stagnates, dies. Much as you may want to set it in concrete, it isn't going to happen, because English is a living, changing language. And the dictionary writers fully recognize this - that's why they issue new versions of their product every 10 years or so - not to force all and sundry to purchase their works, but because the language has cxhanged.

    Most of the rude little four letter words that we mostly shy away from in venues such as this one have good Anglo-Saxon roots, and as such, were freely used in polite society by that community. Funnily ewnough, a lot of them are coming back into more common usage than they have enjoyed for several hundred years.

    Scuttlebutt is in use in your navy (or was, the last time I looked), but its meaning is nothing like what it originally meant.

    "He fell for it, Lock, Stock and Barrell" still gets used, but what does it REALLY mean?

    "Hook line and sinker" is a similar, but still identifiable, simile to the above, of course.

    Face it, you want to strangle the language, and not let it evolve naturally, you're just an old fuddy-duddy reactionary. In that, you have plenty of soul mates, I'm sure.

  • by fuzzix ( 700457 ) <flippy@example.com> on Tuesday October 17, 2006 @03:11AM (#16464661) Journal
    I think he means that it's not a de-facto standard, because it's a real ISO standard. That's about as standard standard as they come. There's nothing defacto about it.

    That depends... It certainly is an ISO standard but that doesn't make its use standard in certain areas.

    In the scientific community it's a de-facto standard. There are no rules to say you must use PDF (to my knowledge), it's just a convenient and useful standard to use so everyone uses it.

    That said, the poster who originally said "de-facto" was completely wrong :)

"Yeah, but you're taking the universe out of context."