Microsoft Office to support PDF

I was planning to launch my blog today with a discussion of PDF/A. But my plans were derailed by the announcement that Microsoft Office 12 will support export of PDF.

(Just to clear up some confusion that has shown up on some blogs: Microsoft did not license any technology from Adobe for this.)

This is wonderful news for the PDF platform. It confirms, in case there was any lingering doubt, that PDF is here to stay as the de facto standard for “final form” digital equivalents of paper records. It also raises a lot of questions.

Is this the beginning of the end for Microsoft’s nascent attempt to replace PDF with a proprietary equivalent? I don’t understand why Office users, at least, will be interested in this new format when it arrives.

How complete will Microsoft’s support of PDF be? Will Office just produce static paper-equivalent PDFs? Or will it add advanced features like hyperlinks, comments, bookmarks, Tagged PDF, interactive forms, embedded multimedia files? Will they create files that conform to the PDF/A and PDF/X standards? Brian Jones’s blog offers no real clues yet.

A lot of people are going to be very interested in the first beta releases of Office 12 when it arrives.

UPDATE: Since I first posted this, I found a much more detailed posting on Microsoft’s website that answers some of my questions.