Scoble is right, MS Office 12 supporting PDF is big. Having the ability to publish to PDF builtin into Office is a good thing. What’s funny about it is that now we get to make fun of Microsoft for doing the right thing. Usually we only get to make fun of them for not doing the right thing
First off, as someone else has already pointed out, it is foolish for MS to limit this feature to just Office. This should be a builtin print feature system wide across all applications, similar to the way Mac OS X has been doing for years. If they wanted to take a short cut there are even a couple of open source apps that implement this, but some how I think a company with that much money in the bank isn’t short on resources.
Aside from the obvious jokes that will pop up about Microsoft coping Apple on this, there will also be jokes about Microsoft coping Open Office for this feature. Open Office has been able to publish in PDF format for awhile now.
If that isn’t enough fuel for the fire, here’s one more. From the announcement by Brian Jones:
I constantly get asked by customers if we can build in this support for publishing documents as PDF files, and now I can thankfully say “yes!” It’s something we’ve been hearing about for years, and earlier in this project we decided that while there were already existing third party tools for doing this, we should do the work to build the functionality natively into the product.
So customers having been requesting this feature “for years”, but Microsoft never acted on those requests. Further down Brian mentions one metric they used to track how much people wanted this feature:
In the case of PDF though, it was a really simple straightforward problem. Currently, on our OfficeOnline site, we are seeing over 30,000 searches per week for PDF support. That makes a pretty easy decision … Of course we get requests for other formats too, but not nearly to this scale.
In looking at this from the reverse angle it sounds like documentation on how Microsoft has managed to ignore an overwhelming number of customer requests “for years”. Not something that I would really brag about.