'PDF is where documents go to die,' says Microsoft exec

PDF is where documents go to die,' says Microsoft exec
Pretty Dreadful Formatting?

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."


"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.

Patrick Goss

Patrick Goss is the ex-Editor in Chief of TechRadar. Patrick was a passionate and experienced journalist, and he has been lucky enough to work on some of the finest online properties on the planet, building audiences everywhere and establishing himself at the forefront of digital content.  After a long stint as the boss at TechRadar, Patrick has now moved on to a role with Apple, where he is the Managing Editor for the App Store in the UK.