The new version of Microsoft Corp.'s Office software will let users save documents in the popular PDF format, as part of efforts to broaden the appeal of the new Office product and get people to upgrade.
Office 12 will be able to convert documents created in Word, PowerPoint, Excel and other products to the PDF format, the company told partners at a weekend meeting on its Redmond campus. However, users will still need to download the free Acrobat Reader to view the files.
Microsoft used freely available tools to create the PDF support, but the company also notified Adobe Systems Inc., which developed the format.
Currently, creating a PDF file from Office and other documents requires separate software, ranging from the $449 Adobe Acrobat Professional to free products like Pdf995. Mac OS computers also ship with free PDF-creation tools.
PDF is popular in part because users do not need to have a copy of Microsoft Word or another paid product to see documents. It also allows users to send a document that cannot be easily modified.
Office 12, which is due out by the end of 2006, faces some of its stiffest competition from existing users who do not see the need to upgrade from previous versions. Microsoft is aggressively touting new functions, such as the PDF support, to try to spur upgrades and appeal to people who might otherwise not buy Office at all. The Office suite retails for between $149 and $499, depending on which edition a user chooses.