A senior executive at Microsoft has hammered the PDF format, complaining that it is 'where documents go to die'.

In the discussions around the next generation of Office, Microsoft Office's general manager Chris Pratley told TechRadar about his problems with the common but much derided document format.

"PDF is where documents go to die," he said. "Once something is in PDF, it's like a roach motel for data.

"I could print it but that's not so useful. I copy a table and take that back to Word with high hopes and what I get is not that great."

Office improvements

Obviously the conversation continued around what Office 2013 does with PDFs in terms of improving the formatting, with PDF Flow a major new feature.

"Now it's a Word file; it's not an image of a word file, it's not a dumb translation of letters to words, it actually is Word structure," he continued.

"We look at the structure of the PDF and say 'there's a one here with an A and B below; that should be represented by a multi-level list', 'here's a bunch of lines and squares, that looks like a table'. Even things like page numbers.

"It says page one of five in the corner; if I add a bunch of text it will say page one of six."

Pratley: "PDF is where documents go to die. Once something is in PDF, it's like a roach motel for data."

The Portable Document Format was developed by Adobe back in 1991, but has been an open standard since 2008.

It's not the first time an Adobe product has faced criticism from a major player and it's unlikely to be the last, but it's still a withering comment about one of our most familiar document types.