The June 5th San Jose Mercury News recaps the recent PDF/XPS clash between Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) and Adobe Systems (NASDAQ: ADBE) in an article by John Boudreau. It's a great review of what's transpired (for ancient history, see my April Observations, and also my recent post) and relies on interesting sources from outside the usual printing and imaging community -- yes, there is a bigger world out there!
But, as I write this, I wonder if this is "yesterday's news", more than just literally? Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) is out, officially, with the beta test of their browser-based spreadsheet, and has been in beta with a browser-based word processor since acquiring Writely this spring. While both of these products have a long way to go just to get out of beta, let alone present a market challenge to MS Office, there's a message here about looming transformational change.
A great web site, The Phrase Finder, offers the meaning of the old saying about "fiddling while Rome burns" as "to occupy oneself with unimportant matters and neglect priorities during a crisis". While Microsoft and Adobe continue to scrap it out like only they can, they both have much more to lose, together, if the proverbial paradigm shifts away from client-based applications.