XPS Submitted To Ecma
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It seems that having the stock price remain flat for several years is starting to worry people in Redmond. Not only must they preserve the current monopolies and continue to prop up financially-failing businesses, they must find new areas to expand into. What do you do when you are the proverbial great white shark in a child's inflatable wading pool? You have to find a way to move into other fields, without being so reckless that you put your sure thing at risk.
Consider Adobe. With the Macromedia acquisition, they have about sewed up graphical applications on the Web the same way that PDF has apparently sewed up printing. It seems like all of those annoying online ads are made with Flash, no matter whose site you are on. A comfortable niche and a large one.
That peaceful, domestic situation is inviting to Microsoft. They need to satisfy their stockholders, including the ones that work there. A quick slash to Adobe's jugular—anyone watching the battle over office file formats in government agencies can see that ISO-ification is the new entryway to the government market and that governments are leaders rather than followers when it comes to document file formats—and Microsoft can meet its growth targets for the next few years without exposing the company to real competition.
For Adobe, this is quite the challenge. They can fight ISO-ification of XPS using Microsoft's own "compatible with billions of existing documents" line. They can fight ISO-ification of XPS and OOXML, perhaps even adding ODF <–> PDF conversion to their products. They can resist because it affects their company, but this isolates them from the community. Far better to oppose ISO-ification of Office Not-so-open XML as well, because the community will tend to support those that support the community.
Like Andy Updegrove, I was not thrilled about the dispute between Microsoft and Adobe. I felt that the media reports made it seem as though Adobe was acting as though PDF was anything-but-open. Not being inside of either company, I can never be sure what transpired between them, so I do not want to be too hasty in judging Adobe's motives. Still, the existence of this intended single-vendor standard in opposition to PDF might inspire Adobe toward increased openness as PDF works its way through the ISO-ification process.
Note to Adobe: I see regular and frequent requests for conversion between MS binary formats and ODF and PDF formats. Since nearly everyone has the zero-price Adobe Reader installed, why not add the capability to take .odt files and convert them to PDF? This would help everyone, as it would add some ability to use ODF files inside of organizations that have no other ODF-compliant applications (but which receive them from outside). A separate Adobe-produced "ODF viewer" browser plugin is another option, especially if it gets included in Reader & Flash Player downloads.
Entry filed under: Open Standards.