The Adobe War Against Microsoft

October 2nd, 2007

If anyone was wondering whether or not Adobe has declared war against the (ostensibly ailing) Microsoft, the evidence became unmistakable on October 1.

I continue to marvel at Adobe’s “Mouse That Roared” approach to the battle: its market cap is slightly less than 10% of Microsoft’s. But the war has certainly begun.

We can argue about the start date. I don’t think we need to trace it back to early eBook days. I see the beginning as the battle for PDF. In a very confused set of corporate interactions, Adobe refused to allow Microsoft to have an Adobe-endorsed save-to-PDF feature in Vista and Office 2007, forcing Microsoft to make save-to-PDF a separate downloadable “feature.” At the time it seemed to me Adobe was merely being spiteful (although I recognized the beginning of a battle). Microsoft created a separate download for save to PDF or to XPS (its supposed PDF killer), available both for XP and Vista. Battle over?


Adobe soon announced PDF Mars, a version of PDF with some remarkable similarities to XPS. Round two.

Now we’re faced with round three, where Adobe has purchased a Web-enabled word-processing application. By some otherworldly coincidence, on the same day as this announcement (October 1), Microsoft announced its own Web-enabled variation on the Office suite.

Microsoft is perceived by its detractors in retrenched mode, a bit like Napoleon fleeing Moscow. Are we to believe that Microsoft has no troops still ready to fight? I doubt that. But it’s an interesting battle between the emerging Adobe and the great Goliath.