Adobe Relinquishes: PDF To Become Formal Standard

The move also could resolve Adobe's running dispute with Microsoft over PDF support in Microsoft Office.

Adobe said it will give PDF to AIIM, the Enterprise Content Management Association, an industry organization active in standardization efforts. AIIM in turn plans to submit PDF for publication by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

"By releasing the full PDF specification for ISO standardization, we are reinforcing our commitment to openness," Kevin Lynch, Adobe's chief software architect, said in a statement. "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."

Releasing PDF to an independent overseer extricates Adobe from the corner into which it had painted itself regarding PDF's openness. Adobe created PDF in the early 1990s and encouraged its widespread adoption, publishing the specification and allowing royalty-free use of its patents.

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However, PDF remained a proprietary standard under Adobe's control. Earlier this year, a skirmish broke out when Microsoft claimed that Adobe had pressured it into stripping native "save as PDF" functionality from Office 2007. Adobe's executives repeatedly ducked questions about how they could justify calling PDF an open standard while simultaneously pressuring Microsoft to not use it.