Microsoft's Office upgrade to support PDF files

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Microsoft's Office upgrade to support PDF files
SEATTLE (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp. said on Monday that the next version of its Office program will be able to save documents in the PDF format, a popular method of sharing documents between different computers and software programs.

Being able to save Office documents as PDFs was a feature that more than 120,000 users have requested every month, said Steven Sinofsky, Microsoft's senior vice president of Office product development.

Portable Document Format, developed by Adobe Systems Inc. allows users to save a file and share it with anyone using Adobe's Acrobat Reader software.

Sinofsky did not say whether there would be any extra costs involved in being able to save Office documents as PDF files, but hinted that the feature could be included in Office for free.

"We don't want cost to be a barrier for any of our products," Sinofsky told Reuters, noting that many other word-processing, spreadsheet and presentation programs include the ability to save files as PDFs.

"We want to be a competitor." Sinofsky said.

Microsoft is gearing up to release the next version of Office, code-named "Office 12" in the second half of 2006, within the same time frame for a major upgrade of its flagship Windows program.

The main challenge for Microsoft, as it upgrades its two cash-cow product lines that together generate more than US$33 billion in yearly sales, is to convince users that the new versions offer features that make it worthwhile switching.

Sinofsky said that including PDF in Office 12 would help broaden the appeal of the program, which is a collection of different applications used for different tasks.

The Office programs that will offer the ability to save as PDFs are: Word (word-processing), Excel (spreadsheet), Power Point (presentation), Access (database), OneNote (note-taking), Publisher (publishing), InfoPath (forms) and Visio (diagrams).

Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft said that it developed the "save as PDF" feature in Office 12 using the open, freely available PDF standard published by Adobe. Under the open specifications, Adobe allows other software developers to create PDFs without paying a licensing free.

San Jose, California-based Adobe and Microsoft have been longtime partners in the software industry but, although they still collaborate, are increasingly competing against each other in the space for data-input forms and photo-editing software.
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