Microsoft needs a PDF reader

An insecurity expert has called on Microsoft to add a basic PDF viewer to Window.
Sean Sullivan, a security advisor with Finnish antivirus vendor F-Secure said that such software would help protect users from the spike in attacks exploiting bugs in Adobe’s Reader.

Sullivan said that Apple did this with its Preview software and it was a jolly good idea.
If people just want to view and read PDFs they should not have to open themselves to run JavaScript from them.

Features, including Reader’s support of JavaScript and the PDF specification’s support for the /Launch function, have been exploited by attackers in increasing numbers since 2008.

All this would be solved if Microsoft ran a PDF reader in Windows that did not have any of this functionality.

Writing in his bog, Sullivan said that punters were tired of the exploits and the complications that so many of today’s PDF readers include.

Redmond should write a really simplified viewer, one that just previews PDF.  It does not need to be build into the operating system. They can make it an optional download like they did the ‘Save As PDF’ add-in for Office.”

Microsoft intended to add support for saving documents in the PDF file format to Office 2007, it was forced to backtrack when Adobe said no.

Instead, Microsoft built a “Save as PDF” add-on that it made available free of charge.

After Adobe submitted the PDF/A specification to the ISO in 2008, Microsoft added “Save As PDF” support to its suite with the release of Office 2007 Service Pack 2 a year ago. The same feature is available in Office 2010.

Office cannot open PDF documents without third-party software or add-ons and Windows 7’s and Windows Vista’s preview feature also won’t display PDFs.

Sullivan pointed out that the PDF specification has been completely royalty-free since 2006, and Redmond would not have to pay Adobe if it did craft a viewer of its own.