The newest patch to Microsoft Office 2007, called Service Pack 2 (SP2), includes several improvements to the Office family of products. Among them, and something Microsoft discussed back in May 2008, is greater support for file formats, including “support for XML Paper Specification (XPS), Portable Document Format (PDF) 1.5, PDF/A and Open Document Format (ODF) v1.1.” When Microsoft first released Office 2007, they made available a free plug-in that allowed the user to export and save to PDF and XPS. With the release of SP2, they are including this capability by default, as well as adding ODF support.
Regarding PDF in particular, Microsoft has mentioned SP2 will support the creation of PDF 1.5 files from some Office applications. The specification for PDF 1.5 was first published by Adobe in 2003 and was supported that same year in Acrobat 6. Acrobat 9, the current release of the product line, supports PDF 1.7 files, which was the version ratified as ISO 32000. [Update: To a point Gray Knowlton at Microsoft made on his blog, I should clarify this is not meant to imply the PDF files output from Office 2007 SP2 applications do not support ISO 32000. Also, I should note that Acrobat 9 outputs PDF files based on earlier versions of the PDF specification, as well, including PDF 1.5. Thanks Gray.] Jim King has an informative blog that, in part, talks about the ISO standardization process of PDF.
In general, through its continuing support of the format, Microsoft is providing further validation that PDF is well established in important processes of users around the world. I know Microsoft has mentioned save as PDF is one of their most frequent customer requests. So what does this mean for Adobe Reader and Acrobat? Well for Reader, there will likely be more PDF files in the world for users to consume using the product. And for Acrobat, the more PDFs that are created the more users will be interested in doing additional things with those documents—which is the strength of Acrobat. We’ve posted a lot on this blog about some of those things, like collaborating on documents, removing sensitive information from documents, making your sets of documents interactive (with Flash and video content), or collecting a set of files together into a PDF Portfolio.
Rock on, PDF.
Dave Stromfeld, Acrobat Product Manager