Microsoft has decided to delete from the next version of Office an option to save documents in PDF after Adobe Systems threatened to take legal action.
"We offered to them that we would do this, and now we've unilaterally made the decision to do it," Microsoft spokesperson Jack Evans said on Friday. The company also will remove a feature to save documents as XML Paper Specification (XPS) files in Office; XPS is Microsoft's rival file format to the PDF file format.
Adobe had threatened legal action against Microsoft in Europe over its use of Adobe's Portable Document Format (PDF), which lets users create electronic documents. It's unclear whether that action would be in the form of a complaint to the European Union or a formal antitrust suit, sources close to Microsoft said Friday. Adobe spokesperson Jodi Warner said Friday that Adobe "has made no determination" whether it will take action.
The dispute between the companies began in February when Adobe raised concerns over Microsoft's plans to offer a "Save as PDF" feature in its Office 2007 suite. Beta versions of the software with this feature are already available.
Now, with Microsoft's decision to remove the function, users who purchase the final Office 2007, due out later this year, must separately download free software to save documents created in Office applications as PDF or XPS files, according to Microsoft.
Microsoft representatives say Adobe wants its software to be removed from Office and offered separately for a fee, and the companies had been trying to work out a compromise.
"We have taken a number of significant steps to accommodate Adobe and offered many proposals in an effort to avoid a dispute," Evans said. "But we have now reached a point where we feel what they are asking for is not in the best interest of our customers."
Adobe's Warner has said Microsoft is an important partner for Adobe but that the company remains concerned about monopolistic practices.
"As our CEO Bruce Chizen has stated publicly numerous times in the past, Microsoft has a monopoly and we are always concerned about the possibility that they might abuse that monopoly," she said.
Evans said Microsoft has offered to make changes to its software and even to ship Adobe products with Windows in an effort to resolve the disagreement.
In addition, Microsoft has offered to ship Adobe's Flash and Shockwave software with every copy of Windows Vista and give hardware vendors the option to remove XPS from Windows, Evans said. Still, Adobe wants Microsoft to take even stronger moves to "charge customers a price for using what everyone else in the world can use for free," he said.
News of possible legal action by Adobe in the E.U. was first reported Friday in The Wall Street Journal.