REDMOND, Wash., Oct. 2, 2005 – At the final session of the yearly gathering of nearly 3,000 Microsoft Most Valued Professionals (MVP), Steven Sinofsky, senior vice president of the Microsoft Office product development group, showcased support for the PDF format in the next version of Microsoft Office, code-named Office “12.” To learn more about this customer benefit, PressPass spoke with Sinofsky.
PressPass: At Microsoft’s Professional Developer Conference on Sept. 13, you unveiled the new user interface as well as new ECM and workflow functionality in Office “12.” What exactly did you show to the MVPs today?
Sinofsky: Today we demonstrated support in Office “12” that will enable customers to save their work as a PDF file by simply using the Save As command from within an Office program, such as Microsoft Office Word, Microsoft Office PowerPoint, Microsoft Office Excel, Microsoft Office Access, Microsoft Office InfoPath, Microsoft Office Publisher or Microsoft Office Visio. It is just that simple – instead of printing the document and faxing it, or overnight-mailing it, customers can save a PDF and electronically distribute a read-only, “as-printed” representation of the document.
PressPass: Why did you choose to include this functionality in Office “12”?
Sinofsky: In each release of Office we balance the features in the product that are innovative and the features that are in response to explicit customer requests. For example, the new user interface unveiled at the Professional Developers Conference represents a truly innovative approach to providing a highly productive environment for 21st-century document creation. The Save As PDF technology represents a direct response to our customers, who have asked for this feature through many channels of customer feedback. For example, we receive requests through our MS Wish customer connection site on Microsoft.com. Requests for PDF functionality in Office represent the #2 request when customers interact with our worldwide support organization. Every month we receive over 120,000 queries worldwide for “PDF” through Microsoft Office Online. And of course, our MVPs have expressed strongly their desire to see this functionality integrated with Microsoft Office. We are answering these requests.
PressPass: Under what scenarios do you expect customers to take advantage of PDF?
Steven Sinofsky, Microsoft Senior Vice President, Office
Sinofsky: Customers today are asking for a format that represents the “printed page” and can be viewed on multiple platforms, even if a person does not have Microsoft Office. The PDF format has been broadly recognized as an acceptable way to share information when the author does not want that information easily modified or when there is no longer a need to edit that information. This ability to view on multiple platforms and provide a casual level of document security is a customer need that can be met by PDF. And with the integration in Office “12” we are making this easy for customers.
PressPass: Do other productivity suites include PDF?
Sinofsky: Yes, many other productivity products for the Microsoft Windows platform include support for PDF. In addition, productivity tools for the Mac OS X, such as Microsoft Mac Office, also provide PDF support. There are a number of third-party tools out there that support PDF. Broadly, customers have come to expect PDF support from their productivity tools and Microsoft is pleased to offer this to customers in Office “12”.
PressPass: How does PDF relate to the new Open XML file formats in Microsoft Office “12”?
Sinofsky: As we have announced previously, Office “12” will expand on the open XML support that has been in Office XP and Office 2003 by using the Office 2003 Open XML schemas as the default format for creating and saving documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. This open XML schema provides a robust, open, collaborative document format, supported by the leading tools of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. PDF would be used for the finished product. Today, over 400 million Microsoft Office customers use the editable formats in their daily work. Office “12” will have full support for today’s file extensions “.doc”, “.xls” and “.ppt” along with default support for the new Open XML schemas. The Office XML Formats will offer some key improvements over the binary file formats in use today within Microsoft Office Word, Microsoft Office Excel, and Microsoft Office PowerPoint. Because these file formats are compressed, the resulting document sizes will be much smaller, somewhere between 50 and 75 percent in some cases. The file-formats architecture also improves recovery of damaged files. Developers gain more granular control of the content within the files, allowing them to index, remove sensitive information, and dynamically assemble documents.
PressPass: Would you say that including PDF in Office “12” is a step towards further broadening the appeal of Microsoft Office?
Sinofsky: Definitely. Microsoft is committed to listening and meeting the needs of its customers. With the introduction of HTML support in Office 2000, followed by XML support in Office XP and Office 2003, and with our announced support for the strong XML support to be available in Office “12” we are leaders in providing the deepest and richest information worker toolset and platform. Our Open XML schemas are available as a perpetual, royalty free license modeled after many other XML standard licenses. More information on that is available on http://www.microsoft.com/office/xml/default.mspx. PDF adds one more level of openness to the Microsoft Office System. We’re happy to offer this to customers. We believe that the highest value we provide is not in the formats used to store data, but in the rich programs, servers, and services we offer customers. These tools offer the best opportunity for customers to fully function and participate in the New World of Work as outlined by Bill Gates in May, 2005.
PressPass: Will Office “12” PDF documents support any features other than the “printed page?”
Sinofsky: Office “12” will output PDF documents compatible with any PDF viewer that supports version 1.4 of the specification, such as Adobe Acrobat 5.0 or later. PDF documents created with Office “12” can contain live hyperlinks. Office “12” PDF documents will be accessible to screen readers as well. In addition, PDF documents produced from Microsoft Office Publisher “12” will include support for pre-press specific functionality, such as CMYK color models and printing page marks. PDF documents created with Office “12” will not support Adobe DRM or password systems. Microsoft SharePoint Products and Technologies will be able to index PDF documents for use in enterprise content management scenarios. As we are still planning on shipping Office “12” in the second half of 2006, some features may still change.
PressPass: Isn’t PDF an Adobe product?
Sinofsky: PDF was developed by Adobe and has been available in a public specification for a long time. It has been offered by Adobe as an ISO standard. Microsoft used this standard to guide development of the PDF technology in Office “12”. We’re happy to take advantage of the openness of the PDF format to include this in Office “12” for our customers. There are many other products that support the PDF format, including our own Office for the Mac.
PressPass: Why did you choose to announce this to the MVPs?
Sinofsky: MVPs are our most valued professionals and represent the community of developers, trainers, authors, and users of Microsoft Office that lend their skills to Office customers around the world and they were here for an annual gathering where the MVPs learn the latest about Microsoft products and provide input into the next generation. Through their experience the MVPs represent the views of tens of millions of Office customers around the world. The MVPs offer us great feedback on all aspects of the Office System. One request that has been repeated by many has been the wish for PDF support in Office. Since our MVPs are such a valuable part of the feedback loop for developing Office, we decided that it was appropriate to announce this technology at the closing of the Office section of the MVP event this week.