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Adobe Turns PDF Over to Standards Body

The Adobe Portable Document Format, already an unofficial standard for electronic documents, is about to get official recognition.

Adobe Systems on Monday plans to turn over the full PDF 1.7 specification to AIIM, the Enterprise Content Management Association, for publication by the International Standards Organization.

"We're handing it over to a group that will eventually drive it to become a recognized ISO standard," said Sarah Rosenbaum, director of product management at Adobe. "We're doing it because we feel it's the next logical extension of where PDF has been in the past and where it needs to go in the future."

This is something Adobe's corporate customers want, said Rosenbaum, in order to be sure that PDF documents will remain accessible in the future. "This move, making the entire PDF specification an ISO standard, will go to allay concerns that some people have voiced that at some point in the future it could go away."

There are already two approved ISO standards based on PDF: PDF/Archive (PDF/A) and PDF/Exchange (PDF/X). Two others, PDF for Engineering (PDF/E) and PDF for Universal Access (PDF/UA), are proposed standards. There's also PDF for Healthcare (PDF/H), an AIIM proposed Best Practice Guide.

"Today's announcement is the next logical step in the evolution of PDF from de facto standard to a formal, de jure standard," said Kevin Lynch, chief software architect and senior VP of the platform business unit at Adobe, in a statement. "By releasing the full PDF specification for ISO standardization, we are reinforcing our commitment to openness. As governments and organizations increasingly request open formats, maintenance of the PDF specification by an external and participatory organization will help continue to drive innovation and expand the rich PDF ecosystem that has evolved over the past 15 years."

The submission to the ISO comes at a time when Adobe's PDF technology must compete with Microsoft's XPS format. Both technologies allow customers to print documents without needing the actual application that created them.

Last year however, Microsoft removed the "Save As PDF" feature in its Office 12 productivity suite in favor of promoting its own XPS (XML Paper Specification) as the default "Save As."

Adobe has now joined with other Microsoft competitors charging that some features of the Windows Vista operating system violate European antitrust laws.

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