Bad blood between Adobe and Microsoft

April 30, 2007, 6:56 AM UTC

Adobe’s (ADBE) loathing of Microsoft (MSFT) is peaking again, and its relationship with Apple (AAPL) is a marriage that “has to work for the sake of the kids.”

Those are some of the insights I gleaned while hanging out with Adobe Systems CEO Bruce Chizen for more than an hour last week, during and after a conversation we had at San Jose State University’s engineering school.

Chizen’s feelings toward Microsoft are understandable – the software giant seems to be attacking all of Adobe’s core businesses these days. Microsoft’s new SilverLight plug-in is taking aim at Adobe Flash for rich media web applications, and it is also taking swipes at Adobe’s graphics editing and e-paper software.

Microsoft’s recent moves have clearly earned the ire of Chizen, who said it’s become clear that Microsoft would be thrilled if Adobe would just disappear. It’s at the point where Chizen doesn’t like buying Microsoft software at all. “I hate writing the check to Microsoft,” Chizen said bluntly. “I would love to get off Microsoft Office.” In context, though, Chizen seemed to be resigned to the fact that Microsoft Office is still a necessary tool for business productivity. Chizen did say, in passing, that perhaps Adobe could come up with its own Office-like solution, sometime in the future but he didn’t seem too serious about it.

With Apple, things are different – Chizen notes that no matter how tense things have gotten between Adobe and Apple, Apple CEO Steve Jobs has always answered his calls, or called back in a few minutes. Chizen used the marriage metaphor to describe the relationship with Apple – sometimes you want to break up, but you can’t because there’s too much history, and the relationship has to work for the sake of the kids. (Many of Apple’s core customers do creative work such as publishing, photography, video production and marketing using Adobe software.)