Microsoft Edge’s new PDF viewer is powered by Adobe, and it won’t let you forget that. In an announcement on its website, Microsoft says it’s replacing Edge’s existing PDF viewer with one from Adobe Acrobat, which includes some “advanced” features that are available if you’re willing to pay for them.
Microsoft markets the integration as a way to give users “a unique PDF experience” with “higher fidelity for more accurate colors and graphics, improved performance, strong security for PDF handling, and greater accessibility.” While Microsoft says that these basic features will stay free and that it won’t lose any existing functionality, documents will still display “an unobtrusive Adobe brand mark.”
You’ll also see the option to “try” paywalled PDF features from Adobe, which allow you to do things like combine files, edit text and images, and convert PDFs. Enabling these features comes at a price, however, and means you’ll have to sign up for an Adobe Acrobat subscription.
Microsoft says you can move forward with the transaction (or sign in to an existing Adobe subscription) straight from Edge. It’s still not clear how in-your-face these sign-up prompts will be, but I’m guessing the “Edit with Acrobat” button shown in the above screenshot will trigger one.
Edge is my go-to browser on Windows, and this just seems like more unnecessary bloatware, especially for a PDF reader that no one was complaining about in the first place. If I needed more advanced PDF editing features, I would’ve purchased an Acrobat subscription by now. That said, I would really prefer not to have another freemium offering shoved in my face when I’m doing something as simple as just reading a PDF (which I do quite often, by the way).
Unfortunately, most of us won’t have the option to revert back to the old reader once it starts rolling out the new Adobe-powered one on Windows next month. It’s only offering users on managed devices as part of commercial organizations the option to use the old viewer until it officially discontinues the legacy system on March 31st, 2024. If you’re using Edge on macOS, you’re safe (for now), as Microsoft vaguely says it’s rolling out the new reader on Macs “in the future.”
All of this is likely a push to promote Adobe through Microsoft’s existing partnership with the company. Microsoft already integrates paid PDF and electronic signature features from Adobe in its suite of productivity applications, including Teams, Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneDrive, and SharePoint. I suppose it was only a matter of time before Adobe began planting its freemium content on Edge.