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Apple Matters and Metro

In amongst a rant piece over on Apple Matters about why Linux people shouldn’t trust Microsoft (what?) I found this particular passage:

Some of you might think I am being over dramatic or mistaking windmills for giants, let me assure you I am not. Say, ever heard of a little company called Adobe? They make a couple popular apps that several people who run Windows use. In fact, they have worked with MS a long time and have contributed some great programs to the platform. One should be a little surprised then to find that Microsoft has decided to go after Adobe’s PDF format with their own format. Hum, sounds like the beginning of a long war with Adobe. Lets just hope that they don’t bundle a free Photoshop replacement with Longhorn, because that would be a direct shot across Adobe’s bow, don’t you think?

So, if MS can betray Adobe and destroy hundreds of other companies, why would anyone think it can’t happen to Linux? My advice to any Linux distro thinking that maybe they should take a look at what MS is offering is this: RUN AWAY! It’s a trick, a ploy and if you fall for it that will just give MS more time and more leverage to wipe you out.

First up, let’s take a little look at the original story about Metro being "aimed at Adobe". Nowhere is there actually any evidence that Microsoft is aiming Metro at PDF – it’s based solely on a comment from an analyst, who says "It is a potential Adobe killer" (my emphasis). But if you dig a little deeper, MS executives have been at pains to point out that Metro isn’t a PDF competitor – unless you believe that all PDF is is a simple document format:

"One aspect of what we’re addressing with Metro is fixed document format, which happens to be tied into (Longhorn’s presentation subystem) Avalon and XAML (Avalon’s XML Applied Markup Language)," said Microsoft lead product manager for Windows, Greg Sullivan. With its huge installed base, "PDF is not going away," Sullivan continued. "We’re solving a much narrower set of challenges for IHVs (independent hardware vendors) and ISVs (independent software vendors."

In other words, Metro is intended to address the non-PostScript printer space, improving WYSIWYG printing quality for low-end users.

And, for those who’ve been around the computer industry for a while, this will all sound a little familiar. Back in the late 1980’s, a little computer company named Apple was somewhat pissed off that it was paying millions of dollars of royalties to a software company called Adobe for PostScript. It thus allied with Microsoft, which promised to build a PostScript-style graphics engine – TrueImage – in return for a font system that Apple had hanging around called TrueType. This would kill off the much-hated Adobe at one stroke, by depriving it of revenue from both fonts and printer engines.

TrueType alone cost Adobe many, many millions – previously, font foundries had had to pay royalties to Adobe to create Type 1 fonts. TrueImage would have cost it many millions more – except of course, it being Microsoft code it never quite worked, and quickly got canned.

Of course, let’s not forget that Adobe once dominated the mid-range Mac digital video market with Premiere – something that Apple has since seized with Final Cut Pro (a product that, incidentally, originated at Macromedia). And the history of the Mac is littered with the bones of developers who saw their products either integrated into the Mac OS or killed off by an Apple equivalent.

Microsoft has, of course, done this too – but Apple Matters should remember that Apple has been more than happy to grab market from Adobe and other developers whenever it suited it.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • GUS

    I think you missed the point of the story. Its not about competition its about unfair and the MS-monopoly.

  • klinux

    Yes, but Adobe killed Premiere for the Mac off without any help from Apple. Steve Jobs talked about that in an interview recently. Adobe was going to update Premiere and decided not to roll the enhancements into the Mac version, even though Apple asked them to. After that, Apple decided to release Final Cut Pro into a slightly lower market price (and position) than previously planned. So, Adobe can thank itself for that one.

  • smallduck

    “MS executives have been at pains to point out that Metro isn’t a PDF competitor – unless you believe that all PDF is is a simple document format”

    In general, it is the public statements of MS executives that shouldn’t be believed. Court proceedings back up that policy.

    Its not clear how you suggest PDF is more than just a document format? Perhaps you mean its set of tools (Acrobat), and its inclusion within PostScript level-whatever.

    MS will promote Metro pretty much everywhere PDF lives today, as a document format, a spool file format for high-quality printing, as a embedded renderer competing with postscript/PDF-native printers. (BTW, as I understand it, Avalon & Metro in Longhorn is exactly the same as Quartz & PDF in OS X).

    “We’re solving a much narrower set of challenges” probably means they won’t compete with the fringe uses of PDF & Acrobat (forms etc), and won’t have the same level of cross-platform tools.

    Its the right thing for MS to do, to implement something Metro within Longhorn. And its consistent for them to copy Apple so closely. But with plans for Metro renderers in printers, they make PDF redundant (if you run Windows-only) and automatically put themselves into competition with Adobe.

  • Venom

    wow, Mac zealots are annoying…

    All that was being said here, and rightfully so, is that Apple practices monopolistic predatory moves just like MSFT…

  • http://technovia.typepad.com Ian Betteridge

    klinux, Apple had already bought Final Cut from Macromedia when that happened. It’s typical Jobsian spin o try and claim it was Adobe’s fault for not upgrading, when in fact Adobe stopped upgrading because Apple was about to release Final Cut Pro – and with its marketing muscle and determination to kill Adobe (oh yes!) there was little point in investing further in the product.

    Smallduck: Those “fringe” uses of Acrobat – forms and business uses – are the ones that make the most money for Adobe now. Corporate, educational, and government use of Acrobat for forms far, far outweighs the money it gets from (for example) publishing customers. Microsoft already has a product that competes in that space, but hasn’t made much headway.

    And your analogy that Avalon+Metro = Quartz+PDF is correct: But just like Apple’s inclusion of PDF creation support in OS X hasn’t dented Acrobat sales on the Mac, Metro won’t affect Acrobat sales on Windows.