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Adobe May Launch Office Rival 311

Posted by kdawson
from the now-it-gets-interesting dept.
Ulysees writes "According to Wired, Adobe may launch its own office-application suite, taking it into direct competition with Microsoft. Mike Downey, group manager for platform evangelism at Adobe, said: 'Though we have not yet announced any intentions to move into the office productivity-software market, considering that we have built this platform that makes it easy to build rich applications that run on both the desktop and the browser, I certainly wouldn't rule anything like that out.'" One example of what such Adobe Web-and-desktop apps could look like is provided by the Buzzword word processor, now in a closed beta. Adobe has invested in the startup developing this software.
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Adobe May Launch Office Rival

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  • by WED Fan (911325) <akahige@@@trashmail...net> on Thursday August 16, 2007 @01:54PM (#20251867) Homepage Journal
    The market isn't closed, but really, there is not a single office suite that seriously competes with MS Office. Any MAJOR company that has tried has BLED money...and lost.
    • by WED Fan (911325) <akahige@@@trashmail...net> on Thursday August 16, 2007 @01:58PM (#20251919) Homepage Journal

      The market isn't closed, but really, there is not a single office suite that seriously competes with MS Office. Any MAJOR company that has tried has BLED money...and lost.

      Modded troll because the truth hurts? Name one that even approaches half the market penetration. There aren't. I'm not saying its right, I'm not saying Office, especially the new version, is good, I'm just saying that this is a very difficult market to enter, even for a major company.

      • by Penguinisto (415985) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @02:10PM (#20252097) Journal

        Name one that even approaches half the market penetration. There aren't. I'm not saying its right, I'm not saying Office, especially the new version, is good, I'm just saying that this is a very difficult market to enter, even for a major company.

        Just because one does not exist does not mean that one will not exist.

        Apple was once the established market leader for PC's. Not today. Sony Playstations once dominated the console market... yet there was Microsoft with the audacity to build and market something called the "X Box".

        I'm not saying that any old app suite will simply come in and stomp an established market leader, but I am saying that I wouldn't be so sure that what dominates today will dominate tomorrow. Even MS Word had to overcome Word Perfect's market penetration, and WP was pretty damned powerful for what it did back in the day.

        /P

        • by Arthur Grumbine (1086397) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @02:17PM (#20252169) Journal
          Is this move anything more than an empty threat in response to Microsoft's very recent nasty surprise? [slashdot.org] Seriously.
        • by WED Fan (911325)

          Even MS Word had to overcome Word Perfect's market penetration, and WP was pretty damned powerful for what it did back in the day.

          Microsoft isn't about to make the same mistake WP/Novell/Corel made. I was a WP user. But, the boys in Orem let the product lanquish and the Corel ignored it for too many years. They stayed in the pit stop while MS lapped them 50 times over.

          Now, if MS seriously falls down and ignores thier product, yes, a competitor will take over.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by jmyers (208878)
            "I was a WP user. But, the boys in Orem let the product lanquish and the Corel ignored it for too many years."

            Even so that is not what killed WP. It was killed because of price. People want cheep/free (see previous ./ article). WP was ~$200 and you could buy MS Word "competitive upgrade" for $50. Everybody opted for Word because it was cheap. Once they had 50%+ market share they removed WP compatibility from the default install and the rest of the holdouts switched to Word so they cold exchange documents.

            T
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by XxtraLarGe (551297)

          Sony Playstations once dominated the console market... yet there was Microsoft with the audacity to build and market something called the "X Box".
          Not to steal your thunder, but I think you've forgotten that the PS2 is STILL far and away the best selling console.
          • by gbjbaanb (229885) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @02:38PM (#20252465)
            ok then: Sega had the best selling console and dominated the market, but then they brought out the Saturn whilst upstart newcomer Sony the audacity to build and market something called the "playstation".

            Remember the Saturn... no? Exactly.
            • Sega never dominated the market. For one generation, the Genesis managed to pull within hailing distance of the SNES, but even then the SNES outsold it. Then Sony waded in and owned the market.
        • by jellomizer (103300) * on Thursday August 16, 2007 @02:39PM (#20252467)
          When Apple was the leader it had a market share closer to 15% because there were so many other strong competitors. IBM won just because their platform was the most open, allowing for PC Clones compete in the same software market space.

          Sony Playstation while dominate still wasn't invincible high Nentendo had a strong competitive advantage and even Sega was enough to be a threat, when the XBox came out it didn't beat sony until the 360 where Sony just royally screwed up.

          For replacing Office there is a major hurdle. First Microsoft Office became the dominate Office Suite and has been invested in my most companies... if a Company is going to use an other office suite it will need to be 100% compatible. Not this 99% compatability where 3 times a year you get a document which blowes up in your face and you need to put tail between your legs and beg your supplier or worse your customer to save it in a different format. For the 3 times a year that could cost the company far more then the cost of Office Professional.

          That being said Adobe has the best chance of doing this only because they are large enough to push this, have enough IP agreements with Microsoft to get a good compatibility of Office files. And mostly postive feeling from the public. Most people are indifferent or like Adobe not to many people (with the exception of Open Source Zealots) really dislike Adobe. But still it will be an uphill battle with no margin of error.
          • by Yvan256 (722131)
            One way to get away from the dependency of Office is to pick something else right from the start.

            Since I switched to OS X about two years ago, I made the decision not to be locked into MS-only products, so I'm using iWork. If you think I just replaced a monopoly and closed format with another, you're right. But I can also export my files into quite a number of formats from each iWork application, so switching again (to, say, Linux) shouldn't be a problem.

            As for Adobe being recognized as a brand to help push
        • by hazem (472289) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @02:48PM (#20252621) Journal
          Apple was once the established market leader for PC's. Not today.

          Apple's not a good example here. Apple was a leader in a small immature market that was growing rapidly. It's easy to be displaced in such a market because there are so many new customers who don't need to switch from one product to another.

          The Office App market is pretty mature with well-entrenched players and anyone who wants a pretty good office app can get one (even legitimately for free). You would have quite a bit better than say, Open Office, since that's free and pretty good. And you'd have to be so astoundingly good that you could get a lot of people to actually make the effort to switch from MS Office to the point where Microsoft can't break your app by making you incompatible with them. And Microsoft has the huge advantage of being entrenched in many large corporations and governments, who are not likely to quickly change their infrastructure to try something hot and new. Many aren't even upgrading their version of Office for fear of breaking existing processes with slight incompatibilities and the huge expense and effort of retraining.

          I'm not saying it won't happen, but there's a lot working against a new Office App vendor in their efforts to become profitable. And even Word Perfect, as good as it was, was only dominating a market that was rapidly growing.
        • by Manchot (847225)
          Sony Playstations once dominated the console market... yet there was Microsoft with the audacity to build and market something called the "X Box".

          Right...but the Xbox and Xbox 360 have cost Microsoft billions of dollars, not to mention the fact that neither console have ever been the market leader.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Frenchy_2001 (659163)
          Apple was once the established market leader for PC's. Not today. Sony Playstations once dominated the console market... yet there was Microsoft with the audacity to build and market something called the "X Box".
          And that audacity has cost them 2 Billions of dollars per iterations ($4B so far...).
          The fact that you can buy market share in an established procedure, the problem is to actually create a product that is competitive enough and cheaper enough to displace the entrenched competition. I would not use
      • by jedidiah (1196)
        It's a troll because it's wrong.

        Star Division thrived long enough to get bought by Sun. There are other regional players. It's also possible to be in the field if you are not depending on this for your bread and butter. Sun is a great example of this.

        Microsoft killed off the specialty vendors. That doesn't mean that someone else can't come along and buy their way into the market based on being dominant in something else.

        It worked well enough for MS.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Nossie (753694)
        Thats all we need...

        Lets swap one monopoly for another :-|
    • by twistedcubic (577194) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @02:09PM (#20252065)
      Actually, the Adobe brand itself could make such a product compete with MS office, IMO. If they use ODF and include compatibility with their other expensive office apps (PageMaker?), I bet they could take a huge chunk, even if their .doc converters are only as good as the ones in OOo. Obviously their office suite will include that curiously often withheld feature, export to PDF.

      Of course, they will never do this. But I bet it would work.
      • PageMaker's been deprecated. It's been replaced by Adobe InDesign.
      • Actually, the Adobe brand itself could make such a product compete with MS office, IMO.

        Only if they reduce their prices.

        If they come out with an office suite that uses a pricing model similar to what they're using for the CS3 suites, nobody will be able to afford it.

      • Obviously their office suite will include that curiously often withheld feature, export to PDF.

        I'm not sure what you mean by that. OpenOffice, WordPerfect, Everything on OS X, KWord, Google Docs, and AbiWord all support PDF export and more than half of them support PDF import. MS Word is the only one that does not support PDF export natively (because of antitrust issues).

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by lottameez (816335)
      There's two reasons for this I think. First, MSOffice is generally perceived as "good enough". There's not enough pain for most users to look beyond what gets offered as part of a PC/Laptop package. Even if Adobe's package was available through Dell's website (for example), what would be the incentive? The second reason I see is issues of compatibility and collaboration. If I did choose Adobe, I'd need to know that I can share documents with MSOffice users. If there's *any* doubt on being able to shar
    • by goombah99 (560566) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @02:32PM (#20252393)
      What programis on more computers than any other? No it's not Windows OS, or MS office. it's Acrobat and Flash. These are big binaries. For all you know Adobe might have already deployed their word processor to your computer in the last Flash release.

      Thus overnight Adobe could activate a word processing suite on nearly every computer and it would be cross platform, running natively.

      They could succeed where others have failed.

      • So Adobe leverages its monopoly on rich web plugins and/or documents to gain access to the Office market? Maybe. Theres a few problems though:
        1. Your scenario assumes Adobe would gives its stuff away for free. They won't.

        2. OSes already come with basic word processors (e.g. Windows has WordPad, Mac has TextEdit) which are already powerful enough for most users anyway. So Adobe bundling something into Flash/Acrobat wouldn't achieive higher penetration than what OSes already provide. Why use some Flash-W
    • by Bombula (670389)
      Yeah, I think they're getting in over their heads - especially with claims like this:

      considering that we have built this platform that makes it easy to build rich applications

      I don't know about anyone else, but my experience with Adobe Acrobat (now Adobe Reader) is that while it certainly looks pretty it's slow and stuttery, tends to cause Firefox to hang, has a poor interface, and doesn't "play nice" with other company's software any more than M$ Office - and maybe even less. Just my 2 cents.

  • by AltGrendel (175092) <ag-slashdot AT exit0 DOT us> on Thursday August 16, 2007 @01:57PM (#20251895) Homepage
    They will have a version for Window, Mac OS-X, and Linux.
    • by abigor (540274)
      It's a Flash web app, so I think that's a safe call.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      It's written in Flash, so that's pretty much a given especially considering that Adobe expects to have a version of Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR) for Linux in the coming months.

      The real questions are 1) Will it support OpenDocument Format, and if so, how good will its support be? and 2) Will it support OOXML, and if so, how good will its support be?

      If these two questions are answered in the affirmative, then Adobe's office suite may be at least an OpenOffice.org or StarOffice killer, and possibly a Microso
      • How could anybody but Microsoft adequately support OOXML?
        • iWork '08 supports OOXML. The idea that OOXML isn't documented well enough to be supported is FUD. Too bad you swallowed it. Then again, as a MS-hater, you were predispsposed to swallow it. Here's an idea: Whenever you see any story regarding MS, replace the word "Microsoft" with whatever your favorite tech company is, and see if you feel the same way about it, just to see if your bias is getting in the way of understanding the issues at hand or not.
      • by turgid (580780)

        It's written in Flash

        *cough*?!

    • f they are really smart... They will have a version for Window, Mac OS-X, and Linux.

      If they are really smart they'll focus on Windows and OS X with support for MSOffice formats, but with the default format being ODF. Linux support would be a plus, but it will not make or break them and companies looking at the benefits of Linux are probably also looking at the cost benefits of Open Office. Any company looking at the office suite market has to decide how big of gamble to take. They can try to go for a proprietary lock-in and become the new MS of the market, or they can try to kill MS's st

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nine-times (778537)

      Right. People have a tendency to think that Microsoft and Apple are the big competitors because Apple is producing an OS, but I think Adobe is in many ways a potential competitor to both Apple and Microsoft. If I were running Adobe, one of my big fears would be Apple and Microsoft developing their own in-house competitors to my software. It's already happened in some cases, with Apple producing Final Cut, and Microsoft trying to produce competitors to Photoshop, Dreamweaver, and the PDF file format.

      Of c

  • by xmas2003 (739875) * on Thursday August 16, 2007 @01:57PM (#20251897) Homepage
    From the Wired article:

    Perhaps even more important is that AIR applications are platform-agnostic. They operate almost exactly the same on both Windows and Mac platforms with only small differences, keyboard shortcuts being the most obvious. Adobe expects a Linux version of the AIR runtime to be completed in the coming months.

    • Document format (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sxltrex (198448)
      Personally, I'm not as concerned with the platform as I am with the document format. MS Office's proprietary binary formats are such a drag. If only they'd use some sort of "open document [wikipedia.org]" format. You know, where the details of the format had been decided upon by a committee of experts, the implementation was human readable, and it wasn't owned by a single corporate entity. One where you wouldn't have to be worried about broken compatibility every time the app was revved, one where any other enterprising
      • by ThosLives (686517)

        Why is "human readable" an important aspect of document formats? Are MP3s human readable? What about video?

        I think if you get rid of that single caveat, I'd be all over an "open" format.

        I don't know why it bothers me so much that people think that formats have to be human readable - I think that's an unnecessary restriction.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Joe Tie. (567096)
      Adobe expects a Linux version of the AIR runtime to be completed in the coming months.

      Adobe's always limped along when it came to linux development. From what I've seen of their flash support, I'm not expecting anything much when it comes to air compatibility. Flash 9 for linux has been in beta how long now, and this is after a huge wait with no flash 8 and a buggy flash 7. Given that air's already available for windows and osx, but not linux, I don't see much reason to believe anything's changed.
  • Then again ... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by UncleWilly (1128141) *

    "According to Wired, Adobe may launch its own office-application suite,
    they may not.
  • by xmarkd400x (1120317) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @01:58PM (#20251913)
    Adobe's Office Product Suite will include the following applications: -Buzzword Word Processor -Internet Net Browser -SlideShow Slide Maker
  • Especially considering that a few weeks ago there was an article here on /. talking about Microsoft making a go at the graphics tool market (putting it in competition with the Adobe CS products). I wonder if this is like an "F.U." from Adobe. A corporate pissing contest of sorts?
  • It will take 25 minutes to start and will ask if you wanna update evry time you uses it.
    • And, if you write a program to make your documents printable, they'll have you arrested by the FBI. [wikipedia.org]
    • <rant>

      And each suite license will cost $3,000

      Mod me troll if you like, but if Adobe's latest releases of Acrobat reader are any indication of how this conceptual suite will be released, I'd rather take my chances with MS, or even better, open office.

      Using Acrobat Reader 8 as a benchmark: Acrobat Reader 8 takes too long to launch, pesters you with some update that usually just adds to the program's bloat of unnecessary features, and to top it off, 8 sometimes "page tears" when you scroll -- a bug

  • Writing a competitive office suite is not a quick little task you can knock out over the weekend. Nor is MS the only target. You've also got to compete with free in Open Office/Google Star Office. This is not an easy market to enter even if you are Adobe. Word Perfect Office failed in there a while back.
  • by netglen (253539) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @02:10PM (#20252089)
    Bullwinkle: Hey Rocky, watch me pull an Office suite rival out of my Hat.
    Rocky: "gain? that trick never works
    Bullwinkle: This time for sure. Nothing up my sleeves...PRESTO!
    Adobe_Killer_Office_App:
    Bullwinkle: Guess I should have stuck to bloatware readers, Google taskbar and Kinkos.
    Rocky: Now here's something you'll really like.
  • Anyone remember Novell's office suite?

    Bought WordPerfect.
    Bought Quatro Pro.
    Bought UNIX.
    Bought Digital Research (DR DOS).

    Ruined them all.

    Rumor at the time was Ray Noorda was actually a shill for Microsoft. In the span of a few years Noorda/Novell managed to buy up all reasonably credible competition to MS. And ruined them all.

    Learn from history, Adobe. Don't try to bag the bear in its own den. That's just stupid.

  • Clippy v 2.0? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Critical Facilities (850111) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @02:14PM (#20252131) Homepage

    Buzzword can import and export Microsoft Word documents, it boasts built-in sharing and collaboration features, and it has a rich, animated user interface


    Great, an animated user interface. As if work doesn't suck enough.
  • by Bullfish (858648) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @02:14PM (#20252133)
    If anyone can make a more bloated, resource-hogging, and system buggering piece of software than MS, it's Adobe.

    Could be the best thing to ever happen to open office!
  • File Format? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby (173196)
    The most important question for any word processor is "what file formats can it read/write?"

    Word processors all have to read/write at least MS Word .doc format. Because most documents we exchange are in that format. They usually add their own format, for the same reasons MS invented its own: to lock you in to that app, even years after the reasons you originally used it might not have any value at all.

    They'll all claim that their own new app features can be stored only in their own new format. But that's a
    • They usually add their own format, for the same reasons MS invented its own: to lock you in to that app, even years after the reasons you originally used it might not have any value at all.

      A lot of companies do this and Adobe may do it too. Or they could go with the ODF standard and capitalize upon all the other software that is already compatible with ODF.

      They should all read/write both .doc and XML (with a public DTD and descriptive specs). Postscript/PDF would be nice, especially if Adobe lets people import PDF for editing.

      I've never seen anything that forbids you writing a program that edits PDF files. The problem is, PDF is a format designed for print and portability, so it does not contain a lot of the information that is really, really useful for editing. PDF is a lot closer to a vector image than a word processing file and was not designed to be edi

  • Adobe, shmadobey (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ancient_Hacker (751168) on Thursday August 16, 2007 @02:23PM (#20252257)
    How about Adobe just tries to get Adobe Reader to work halfway decently?

    If they can't get a simple page renderer to work well, what are the odds they can do a whole slew of apps that don't totally suck?

  • Looks like they used the Buzzword word processor to make the press release:

    Though we have not yet announced any intentions to move into the office productivity-software market, considering that we have built this platform that makes it easy to build rich applications that run on both the desktop and the browser, I certainly wouldn't rule anything like that out.'"

    After running it through my "buzzword" processor, it comes out to:

    We might make a word processing program.

    Most annoying buzzword of the year:
    platform
    Previously meant:
    A combination of hardware + OS + tools that could produce interoperable applications.
    Now means:
    Any two pieces of software that work together or have the same look and feel

  • MSFT will decide to softpedal Silverlight. And Adobe will let the "office suite" remain a vaporware. Like some underhanded deal that must have happened between Intuit and MSFT about Quicken.
  • The very few Adobe products I have dealt with (Acrobat/Reader, Flash) are just, for lack of a better word, crap. Adobe Downloader? Why, oh God why??

    Seriously though, they seem to be an incredibly irresponsible company. I *do* give them major props for porting Flash to Linux, but there is still much to be desired with that, and they seem to have done it and merely let it alone, with no future improvements until Flash 12 is out most likely. Flash 9 is still the one thing that crashes my browser in Linux. And
  • I've had a discussion with my boss yesterday over the seeming lack of alternatives to MS Project. For a start, I've used Project on and off over the last 5 years for various small tasks and always found it was not that user friendly and not very intuitive, (like not being able to drag the Gant chart around, or drag and drop resources into tasks. AJAX style)

    ah fuck, i'm a tard. While looking up info for the rest of my hate for MS Project, I came across a list of other project applications here [wikipedia.org]

    I'm of
    • Shameless plug...

      http://www.agileagenda.com/ [agileagenda.com]

      • Meant to put more info in, but got distracted.

        Actually, I lied... it won't be a competitor. I want to do something different than what project wants you to do. I don't believe in ever setting the start or end date of tasks. You should be able to enter them all in, set up rules for how they behave, and the software should do it all for you. It's similar to the MS Project concept of leveling resources, but it actually understands what "today" is, and knows when things are late or ahead of schedule and adj
  • A way to have the intuitive easy to use GUI of Photoshop spread to applications I use more often.

  • Depending on their motivation, as someone else said is this a big FU to Microsoft? If so wouldn't it make much more sense to start investing in Open Office to cover the deficiencies. Significantly cheaper and more effective then starting something up from scratch. OTOH if they have the resources to do it ground up and not die in the process more power to them
  • I fought the good fight for a decade, defending linux as a grad student and for the first couple years of my first real job.

    My experience was that there was rarely a perfect compatibility between MS Office applications and StarOffice etc. in linux, and that was enough for me to finally abandon in favor of XP + Office. It was a sad day but was definitely the right business decision for me at the time.

    I have many friends that use MacOS and run the Mac version of Office, but even that has displayed some quirk

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