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XML Paper Specification (XPS) was approved as a standard

August 10, 2009

Perhaps I am a bit late to the party, but I just learned that Microsoft's XML Paper Specification was standardized by ECMA as a new standard (ECMA-388) on June 16, 2009.

XPS seems to be an important printing technology for Microsoft and has been adopted by quite a number of hardware and software makers. Native XPS support has already been introduced by some printer manufacturers, for example. This makes it great for taking documents directly from the PC to the printer, perhaps something that needed improvement? I don't know. I thought my documents printed perfectly well before.

What makes this so interesting to me is that XPS is a direct competitor to Adobe's PDF format. The next big question is which of these two competing formats will be the winner, or will we have many years ahead where both formats will be common? I write a lot of documents that I need to share with others. PDF has been the standard for a very long time now, but XPS looks very promising. With XPS support built directly into Windows Vista and Windows 7, will it be easier to send around XPS documents rather than PDF documents?

The tools are also important to the success of XPS. Microsoft Office 2007 has excellent support for both PDF and XPS, but other products lack PDF support. With the XPS "printer driver" on Windows, I can easily create XPS documents from any application, and I do. Sometimes, XPS wins only for that reason. But, that is the best thing I can say for XPS, to be frank. I've used the XPS viewer in Internet Explorer and also the stand-alone XPS viewer from Microsoft. Adobe Acrobat Reader really looks and works much nicer than Microsoft's XPS viewers. I hope they consider making some serious improvements. It would be nice to open a document that fits the width of the viewer window. I'd also like to have the XPS viewer remember its position on the screen after I close it. It reminds me a lot of my first "Hello, World!" program on Windows in the way that it opens.

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