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EU: No Adobe Complaint Against Microsoft

Adobe has made no complaints against Microsoft is shipping Office without Adobe's PDF file reader, and Adobe so far hasn't filed a complaint with the EU, says the Euro Commission.

(Brussels, Belgium) The European Commission said Thursday that software company Adobe Systems Inc. has not so far made any complaints about Microsoft Corp. shipping its new Office software without Adobe's PDF file reader.

In an ongoing dispute with Adobe, Microsoft said earlier this month it had canceled plans to include an automatic way to save documents in the popular PDF format in Office 2007, due out to consumers in January. Instead, users will have to download separate, free software to save documents created in Office products such as Word and Excel as PDFs.

However, EU spokesman Jonathan Todd said EU antitrust regulators were in contact with Microsoft to discuss concerns about how the new Vista operating system will treat PDF-type documents.

The spat with Adobe, which developed the popular PDF, or Portable Document Format, comes as Microsoft is preparing to launch its own competing format for saving documents that cannot be easily modified. Microsoft's technology is called XPS, which stands for XML Paper Specification.

Microsoft had previously said Office 2007 would be able to save PDFs. But Microsoft dropped plans to include the format after Microsoft refused Adobe's request to charge customers for the ability to save Office documents in either the PDF format or Microsoft's new, competing XPS format.

David Heiner, Microsoft's deputy general counsel, said earlier that Microsoft expects Adobe to take legal action, perhaps in the EU.

Adobe could not be reached for comment Thursday but the company has said that Microsoft had a monopoly and it was concerned that it might abuse that monopoly.

EU regulators share some of these concerns about Windows Vista, Microsoft's first major update to the company's flagship operating system since Windows XP was released in late 2001.

EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes wrote to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in March, outlining concerns that Vista's new functions could mean customers will not be offered a real choice on software packages.

The letter highlighted several functions now available separately -- such as software that would create fixed-document formats comparable to Adobe's PDF, integrated Internet search and digital rights management used to protect copyrights.

Adobe's PDF format is popular with government agencies and businesses in part because it allows users to share documents that can't easily be edited or changed. Also, users do not need to have a copy of Microsoft Word or another paid product to see documents, and reader software is available for a wide range of computers.

Currently, creating a PDF file from Office requires separate software, ranging from the $449 (350 euros) Adobe Acrobat Professional to free products like Pdf995. Other word-processing products also ship with tools for savings documents as PDFs.

Any future investigation into Vista or Office would be separate from Microsoft's ongoing legal challenge to a 2004 antitrust ruling that levied a record 497 million euros ($613 million) fine.

That EU ruling found the company guilty of squeezing rival media players out of the market and holding back technical information that would help software developers make products that worked with Windows.

The EU has threatened to fine the company 2 million euros ($2.4 million) a day backdated to Dec. 15 for not obeying that ruling. Kroes said she will make a decision whether to levy a fine before the end of July.

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