A day before Vista is released, Adobe announced its intent to submit PDF (Portable Document Format) for publication by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). This move would forfeit Adobe's control over the PDF specification.
It seems fairly obvious that Adobe feels threatened by the proliferation of Microsoft Office, the impending domination of Office 2007, and finding itself head to head with XPS, Offices native portable document format (also an open standard). At this point Microsoft is the only company that could breed a competitor to the PDF format and Adobe knows this.
XPS will share many features of PDF format. It can support editable metadata, annotations, digital signatures, hyperlinks, bookmarks, text selection, all the typical features most people will need. Microsoft or its partners will also make available free XPS viewers for Windows (duh), Macintosh, Unix, and Linux to help it get the largest grasp possible.
First, I am glad PDF will finally be an international standard. Hopefully some of the flakiness will get ironed out quicker. However I'm not happy it took them smelling a competitor on their heels to open the standard.
Second, competition is good, but not in this arena. There should be ONE standard, fonts and graphic formats are already enough of a pain. It's possible that these two formats can peacefully coexist without frustrating users, but not likely.
Third, Adobe has become complaisant and therefore the quality of their Acrobat Reader has suffered and the PDF format has not grown as quickly or elegantly as it should. This impending move should change that.
I hope XPS is around long enough to make Adobe (and others) work on making the PDF standard better, and then fall of the face of the earth. Adobe is the company that needs to be providing an open portable document format. They just need to be doing it better.