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Office 12 Will Support PDF

Office "12," the next version of Microsoft's market-dominating office productivity suite, will allow users to save documents in PDF.

Portable Document Format, or PDF, developed by Adobe, is one of the most widely used document formats outside of Microsoft's own proprietary Office document types. PDFs are popular for finished documents because they are read-only and the PDF viewer software that loads inside a browser is freely available for quick download.

Microsoft announced and demonstrated PDF support in Office 12 on Sunday at its MVP Global Summit in Redmond for 1,500 Microsoft Most Valuable Professional.

The move runs counter to Microsoft's record of largely ignoring its PDF rival in favor of its own document formats in release after release of Office. The unveiling this year of a new document printing format called "Metro" for Windows Vista launched speculation that Microsoft was actively trying to kill PDF, although Microsoft discouraged that interpretation.

Stephen Sinofsky, senior vice president of the Microsoft Office development group, presented the decision as a response to overwhelming customer demand. "The Save As PDF technology represents a direct response to our customers, who have asked for this feature through many channels of customer feedback." Sinofsky said PDF functionality in Office is the No. 2 request when customers interact with the worldwide support organization, and the company receives more than 120,000 queries a month for "PDF" through Microsoft Office Online.

The Save As PDF option will work in Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Access, InfoPath, Publisher and Visio.

Documents saved as PDF in Office 12 will support Adobe Acrobat 5.0 or later and other PDF viewers using version 1.4 of the specification.

Microsoft's Office 12 PDF plans include support for PDF documents containing live hyperlinks, CMYK color models and printing page marks. The documents will also be accessible to screen readers, and Microsoft SharePoint will index PDF documents for use in enterprise content management scenarios, Sinofsky said. Microsoft-created PDFs will not support Adobe DRM or password systems.

The PDF support comes on top of other Office 12 revelations from last month, including an overhauled interface, new servers, workflow functionality, licensing options and deeper integration with Microsoft Business Solutions. (See "10 Key Elements of Office 12.")

Office 12 is intended for a beta release this year and general availability in late 2006.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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