The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Microsoft expects Adobe to sue them over the incorporation of the PDF into the next version of Office. Or, more exactly, Adobe will apparently sue Microsoft because, after agreeing to remove the feature, Microsoft plans to offer the capability as a separate option, but has refused to charge a fee for it.

Adobe will get no sympathy from me. They may like to portray themselves as the good guy, but their Acrobat Reader has, for the past year or so, been attaching unnecessary programs like the Yahoo toolbar. Ok. The program is free, but it's a major pain to download and constantly is asking for updates. Moreover, Acrobat itself has always cost an arm and a leg and Adobe has proven that by its purchase of Macromedia it's not exactly immune to playing big boy on the block when it can.

I think it would be a great advantage to users if they had more access to PDF creating tools. There are a number of quite useful freeware PDF-creating tools that incorporate rather nicely with Microsoft, but they're neither as powerful as Acrobat nor as widely known. (On the latter point, I've often wondered why.) These tools, such as CutePDF, are often sufficiently powerful for most users needs, particularly given their understandings of the format.

Adobe has long sucked a little wind. In Photoshop, Adobe has got a great product that is well established in the marketplace, is quite expensive, and has become bloated with features that 99% of the users don't use or can't find. (Does this sound like Microsoft Office?)

The Macromedia-created tools, in contrast, are much preferable in many cases to those that were Adobe originals. Dreamweaver is better than GoLive. Fireworks does much of the things that Illustrator does for web sites, but much more intuitively. Flash has brought much more interesting and dynamic content to the web than all Adobe products combined.

Additionally, these Macromedia-developed products don't suffer from the boringly sterile and corporate interfaces that products like FrameMaker and Illustrator. In short, Adobe, by buying up Macromedia and producing expensive products with mind-numbingly byzantine interfaces, has been doing its best to suck creativity out of the market.

All this bantering gets me to my point.

Currently, most users look at a PDF file and just want to open and read it. There is much more that can be done with the format, of course. But, by so thoroughly dominating the PDF creation market with Acrobat, Adobe has killed off a significant amount of interest in the format. Adobe should allow the PDF to be more freely available to users. In doing so, it might actually breathe a little air into its own products.