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What’s going on with XPS?

19 Aug 2008 | | 3 Comments

In 2006 Microsoft revealed XPS (codenamed “Metro”) to the world, it’s an an XML based final-form-file-format (try saying that 3 times in a row), with similar goals to PDF.

They included a XPS writer and viewer in Windows Vista, a Save to XPS add-on for Office 2007, as well using it as the internal Vista print spool architecture.

With its release the PR team went into full action and began touting XPS as a PDF killer, or at least, a real competitor to the PDF format…

But, Adobe’s at-the-time chief, Bruce Chizen took up defensive action and threatened to sue Microsoft over the inclusion within Office and Vista. In his interview with the Boston Globe, Chizen said:

“The promise is that if you create something in PDF, it can be read, it can be displayed on any computer, on any operating system, including a lot of mobile devices today. I don’t want that promise to ever change. Microsoft, because of their monopoly position, does have the ability to change that over time, and we don’t want them to do that.”

At the time, my co-blogger, Karl De Abrew, also covered the title fight in his article at Planet PDF, “Bodyblow, bodyblow, XPS versus PDF”

But since then … a touch over a year later, the XPS versus PDF talk has faded into almost nothingness, in fact the XPS Team blog has not been updated since mid-August 2007. And right now, a cursory check on the number of XPS files hosted publicly via Google reveals around 8 thousand, whereas PDF sits at about 261 million.

Meanwhile, Adobe is feverishly at work on the Mars project, an XML-based version of PDF — you can download Adobe Acrobat 8 plug-ins to create and read Mars-PDF documents from Adobe labs (note: you need the full version of Acrobat to create).

So at the moment, it seems like the most XPS-related noise is being made at Indian-based cargo management company XPS whose paramount goal is:

…to move your freight safely, efficiently, reliably and affordably.

Let’s hope Microsoft jumps back into the ring at some point, a little relevant competition is always a good thing…

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  • Rowan Hanna said:

    I’m happy to report signs of life over on the XPS Team Blog now. There has been two posts in the past week, after a year long hiatus.

  • adrian ford said:

    …there’s also some XPS related content on my blog (blogs.msdn.com/adrianford) and examples of implementations from multiple vendors on the XPS Technology Showcase (www.microsoft.com/xps). You can also track developments on XPS standardization within TC46 at http://www.ecma-international.org/memento/TC46.htm.

    The XPS team blog is mainly focused on Microsoft product and documentation releases – and although that’s been quiet recently it doesn’t mean we’re not busy 😉

  • Rowan Hanna said:

    That’s good to hear. I have added your blog to our resources page for XPS, plus a couple of other XPS related links.

    I presume this means that we’ll see a lot more of XPS in Windows 7?

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