Looking to increase sales of its Office software, Microsoft said users of the next version of the word-processing and spreadsheet programs...

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Looking to increase sales of its Office software, Microsoft said users of the next version of the word-processing and spreadsheet programs will be able to save files in Adobe Software’s PDF format.

Office 12, due to go on sale in the second half of 2006, will include an option to save files from Word, Excel and PowerPoint programs in Adobe’s Portable Document Format, Microsoft spokeswoman Catherine Brooker said yesterday. Microsoft still plans a competing product in late 2006, she said.

Microsoft used open-standards specifications to build the function and has no agreement with San Jose, Calif.-based Adobe, Brooker said. The Redmond company is adding features to Office to revitalize the unit after sales growth slowed to 3.4 percent last year from 17 percent the previous 12 months.

“When third parties develop” products with PDF capability, “those are their products,” said Pam Deziel, Adobe’s director of platform strategy. “Microsoft let us know they were developing this function. The main benefit is we will see more use of PDF.”

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Microsoft is using specifications Adobe has published since 1993, and Adobe, the world’s biggest maker of graphic-design software, won’t get revenue from Microsoft as a result, she said.

PDF is used to share documents between users of different types of software. Users who want to read a PDF document can do so by downloading Adobe’s Acrobat Reader for free.

Microsoft gets 120,000 consumer inquiries a month asking for PDF support with Office and asking the company to add PDF functions, Brooker said.

Microsoft still plans to go ahead with the release of its Metro product, a technology designed to compete with Adobe, Brooker said. Metro is due to be released with Windows Vista, the next version of the operating system, in late 2006.