Microsoft Office gets PDF support

Microsoft is adding native support for PDF in the next version of its office productivity suite, code-named Office 12, which is expected to be available next year.

Office 12 will let users save files in any Microsoft Office program, such as Excel, PowerPoint or Word, as a PDF file by using the "save as" command, according to Microsoft. Users can redistribute the created PDF files electronically as read-only files, but they cannot be viewed from within Office itself. A PDF file viewer is still required to view Office-created PDF files on screen.

Microsoft rival Adobe created PDF as a way for documents to be shared easily across applications that support disparate file formats, and it is widely used as a standard way for Internet users to send and receive documents.

Microsoft announced in June that XML would be the default file format in Office 12, with the reasoning that XML-based documents would be easier to archive and share because XML is an open standard. Microsoft plans to use the Office 2003 Open XML schemas as the default for saving and creating documents, spreadsheets and presentations in Office 12.

Microsoft also is developing another file format, Metro, which lets users view Office files without using Office applications. Some see the technology as Microsoft's own version of PDF. However, Microsoft plans to release Metro as part of the next client version of Windows, Windows Vista, so it's not likely the technology will be used on other operating systems the way PDF is.

Open file formats have garnered attention recently when the commonwealth of Massachusetts announced a plan to migrate to open file formats for all documents generated by its government agencies. The state is going forward with plans to support the newly ratified Open Document Format for Office Applications, or OpenDocument, as the standard for its office documents.

Developed within the standards body Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards, OpenDocument is an XML-based file format that covers the features required by text, spreadsheets, charts and graphical documents.

Suites that support OpenDocument include OpenOffice, StarOffice, KOffice and IBM Workplace. Microsoft Office does not support the file format.

A beta of Office 12 is expected to be available before year-end.

Learn more about this topic

Microsoft showcases workflow, Office 12, design tools

09/14/05

Microsoft going to XML as default file format in Office 12

06/01/05

Customers buoyed by Microsoft direction

09/19/05

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.

Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.