New Microsoft timeline for the introduction of the Adobe Acrobat PDF engine in Edge Chromium

Edge[German]My understanding was that Microsoft wanted to integrate the Adobe Acrobat PDF engine into the Edge browser instead of its own renderer. I had even assumed that this was already the case. Now a reader informed me at the beginning of March 2024 that this integration had been postponed until summer 2024. After publishing this within my German blog, I also cover it here for my English language readers.


Edge gets support for Adobe Reader

Adobe and Microsoft announced on February 8, 2023 that Microsoft would implement Adobe Acrobat as the new standard PDF reader in the Edge browser. Microsoft Edge for Windows was to be affected, and the two companies "celebrated" this as "optimizing the future of digital work and life", which I had mentioned in the blog post Microsoft Edge gets Adobe Acrobat as PDF reader.

Microsoft expressed the opinion that this would "improve the PDF experience and usability" by combining the PDF reader integrated in Microsoft Edge with the PDF engine from Adobe Acrobat. The approach is said to offer improved performance, high security in PDF processing, improved quality for more accurate color and graphics, and better accessibility. In addition, there will be enhanced text selection and read-aloud functionality, and this will remain free of charge.

If additional functions for digital documents are required, such as the option to edit text and images, convert PDFs into other file formats and combine files, a (chargeable) Acrobat subscription can be taken out in order to use these features.

New Microsoft Timeline

Sounded all gigantic, last year and I shelved the topic, we're a year on, sure it's all done – as I don't use Edge, I've lost track of the topic. At the beginning of March, blog reader Michael D. emailed me again about the article Microsoft Edge and Adobe partner to improve the PDF experience. This is dated February 28, 2023 and corresponds to what I outlined above with the plans. However, Microsoft announced a postponement of the integration in an update dated February 4, 2024.

  • The date for the commercial launch of the embedding of the Adobe Acrobat PDF engine in the integrated PDF reader of Microsoft Edge has been postponed to mid-summer [2024].
  • The date for the removal of the current engine for Microsoft Edge's integrated PDF reader has been postponed to early 2025 at the earliest.

The insertions in […] are mine, because the Microsoft people remained vague and did not enter a year for "mid-summer", and were derived from the information "Last update: March 4, 2024.". Conclusion: Big innovations take a little longer.


The current status: March 2024

Michael wrote me the following in his mail about Microsoft's big plans with Adobe Acrobat as PDF engine in Edge, that there is the new timeline above for the Adobe Acrobat PDF engine in Edge Chromium (thanks for that) and added:

  • The commercial launch date for embedding the Adobe Acrobat PDF engine in Microsoft Edge's built-in PDF reader has been pushed back to mid-summer.
  • I suspect the following: If the Edge GPO "Microsoft Edge built-in PDF Reader powered by Adobe Acrobat enabled" is set to "Not Configured", the Adobe Acrobat PDF engine will automatically become the default PDF engine in the Edge browser starting sometime in mid-summer 2024.
  • The date for the deprecation of the current engine for the PDF reader integrated in Microsoft Edge will be postponed until early 2025 at the earliest.
  • At some point from the beginning of 2025 at the earliest, MS's own integrated PDF engine will be "removed", i.e. from this point onwards, only the Adobe Acrobat PDF engine will be available in Edge.

Michael wrote: "Well, what can I say, we use a few PDF files on internal websites in which XFA forms are embedded. By activating the Edge GPO "XFA support in native PDF reader enabled", the display of such PDFs within the Edge also works perfectly with MS's own integrated PDF engine.

But: The Adobe Acrobat PDF engine in Edge fails when displaying PDFs in which XFA forms are embedded and instead refers to the use of the external Adobe Acrobat Reader! This means that the Adobe Acrobat PDF engine does not attract the Edge GPO for XFA support I described above, so we will have to configure the opening of PDFs from the browser with Adobe Acrobat Reader from sometime in early 2025.

Perhaps this is worth a blog entry. And maybe someone in your community knows a way to configure the future Adobe Acrobat PDF engine in Edge Chromium (RegKeys, GPO, etc.)." Michael's last wish has now been fulfilled – perhaps it will help one or two administrators.

Note on Adobe in the Edge

Addition: A blog reader sent me the following thoughts by e-mail:

I found this design remarkable, especially because of the technical background of rendering (screen/print) documents. Due to the completely different approaches with regard to fonts and in particular the preservation of text content, you have to keep an eye on this.

Of course, one wonders which component/interface is inserted there. Apparently, however, it is just a hot cloud of steam and ultimately a paid advertising interface to finally get more customer PDFs into the cloud, i.e. potentially gain access. After all, there could be something important in the enhanced PDFs.

At the very least, this would make it possible to log who has access to which PDFs.

What would actually be an interesting technical challenge is the possibility of saving a page rendered by the browser directly as a PDF – then you can also print something out, which up to now has only ever been implemented as a crummy screenshot/bitmap in screen resolution.

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