You know, it really irritates me when corporations use the legal system to "enhance" the competitive advantage an inferior technology has to a superior technology. There are many historical examples of this behavior being leveraged against Microsoft. The lawsuit with RealNetworks is a prime example. Real was upset that Microsoft packaged WMP into Windows and strong-armed OEMs to not put RealPlayer in. They tried to label Microsoft has anticompetitive, saying that "the market should decide" and the check Microsoft wrote in the end is the only reason Real is still around today.
The reason WMP succeeded over Real couldn't have been because the market already made it's decision, and RealNetworks didn't like it. It couldn't have been the fact that RealPlayer is a bloated, overbearing, codec-hijacking, popup-every-five-seconds horrible piece of trash that just plain sucks ass. No, how could anyone possibly not like their software? It had to be Microsoft's fault.
History is repeating itself once again with this whole Adobe v Microsoft thing. Microsoft didn't re-invent the PDF wheel in their implementation. They were just responding to overwhelming customer demand not to pay $200 a pop for a free spec. People want to save Word documents to PDF, and since the PDF spec is freely available, Microsoft listened to their customers. But wait, I thought Microsoft never did that?!?!? Apparently, when Adobe made PDF into "a freely-available Internet standard", what they really meant was: "Free to everyone except Microsoft."
But Microsoft didn't stop there. You see, developers *HATE* PDF files. Why? Because PDF is a presentation/finalization format. It doesn't hold the document's data in a way that can be easily extracted and reused. Developers have been clamoring for Adobe to make it easier to programmatically manipulate an existing document's data for years, and our pleas have fallen on deaf ears. Microsoft wanted to solve that problem, so it took the same format it was using to define the presentation (XAML), and extended it to document data storage. This technique separated the data from the way it was presented, and stored it in another Internet standard, a ZIP file. This makes it extremely easy to manipulate and extract the data in a document for other purposes, such as workflow, reporting, and data mining.
Speaking of ZIP, it's a perfect example of how companies can still thrive when Microsoft enters the space. The Windows shell can create ZIP files in Windows XP and Server 2003, but WinZip still thrives as commercial software program. Why? Because it still gives users far more control over the way archives are created than Windows does. And they keep coming out with newer versions that have better features.
So anyways, now Adobe wants to throw a hissy fit. And since Microsoft hates writing checks to arrogant bastards who can't compete, they're making the end user go through the extra effort to download a separate package and install it. Adobe's not satisfied that they waste my time by making their documents an airtight coffin of data... now I have to go through more effort to get a better solution. Furthermore, they want Microsoft to stop using their own invention, because it might be <gasp!> better than
So my message to Adobe is this: Developers are still cheaper than lawyers. Maybe if you paid attention to your customers, and tried competing in the marketplace with great software written by great people, instead of through a BS legal system, maybe you could return some of those saving back to your shareholders. Not only that, but you might not drag your own name through the mud in the process. If you're not going to do that, then why don't you step aside and leave the work to people who actually know how to innovate?