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Metro - a new document format from Microsoft


Microsoft announced a new document file format at WinHEC. While everyone is saying it is direct competition to Adobe's PDF format (which is true), the real target is much larger.

Microsoft is definitely gunning for PDF, but they also need to attack the whole idea of an open document format. A primary XML file and all its component fonts and graphics stored as a ZIP file? Now where have I heard that before? The StarOffice people should take a bow, before they batten down the hatches and prepare to get leveled.

Microsoft has a huge fear of a standard for documents that is not under their control. A standard would level the playing field in the word processing market and would be huge threat to the MS Word cash cow.

The whole "Royalty Free" business is a great example of focusing on what doesn't matter. Sure it is Royalty Free, but it sure sounds like you have to re-implement the entire graphics drawing system that Microsoft just spent 4 years developing. That ought to keep the Open Source people busy supporting yet another format besides PDF and SVG and OpenOffice.

I also like the "Universal" aspect: It is "Universal" if you are using the latest Microsoft operating systems. The lack of quotes around the word is a sign of Microsoft's press machine's power.

It also seems like an XML-ized Windows Metafile (WMF) format that can support multiple pages. Didn't they try to get all the printer manufacturers to do this before? Didn't it flop?

Of course, I can't blame Microsoft for trying. The built-in PDF support in Apple's OS X is getting rave reviews. Not to mention that Adobe has been overcharging for Acrobat for years: $250??? Now there is a lot of fat that ought to be trimmed. The base product ought to be free by now. Let's hope Adobe rises to the challenge.

Wouldn't it have been a lot simpler to do a PDF print driver and a simple viewer? The world doesn't need yet another solution to a problem that has already been solved.

Tags: microsoft pdf

File Formats: PDF XPS