Future role of XPS

I'm not well-versed enough to intelligently discuss this topic, but I'd love to see a discussion on Microsoft's XPS.

Will it have a significant effect on commercial printing workflows in 2, 5, 10 years? Could it supplant PDF? With the millions of installations of Microsoft's OS across the world, I'd think it would, eventually.

The link below goes to a white paper that started this line of thought. Note Global Graphics is a solution provider. But aren't most "white papers" on the web somewhat self-serving?


Chuck ?:|


Well-known member
Re: Future role of XPS

It's too soon to tell. Some hurdles XPS has:

1. It's linked to Windows Vista, in that it's the native spool file format of Vista (replacing EMF). Why is this a hurdle? Because no one running previous versions of Windows are going to produce XPS, and even if Microsoft makes an "XPS patch", who will apply it? There has to be a reason, and there isn't. PDF does what it does quite nicely. ( [Office 2007 can be patched |http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/...1-F0A4-47A0-866B-2FD84A329E02&displaylang=en] to support XPS already.)

2. It's competing with PDF, from Adobe, which has a long and venerable history in the printing and publishing industry. Microsoft does not. So it's an issue of mind share.

3. Adobe isn't blind to the threat. They already have MARS, an XML storage format for PDF. (Read more [here|http://www.acrobatusers.com/blogs/leonardr/2006/10/24/mars-attacks/] .) That isn't quite good enough, though. They need a real API, preferably a .NET class. Their take on it, that you don't need an API because it's XML, is short-sighted. The .NET Framework 3.0 has classes to allow programmers to work with XPS. If I'm writing an ASP.NET or Windows application today that needs to generate print, I'll output PostScript and PDF. 3 years from now, if Adobe has no API and .NET has easy to use built-in classes for XPS? Hmmm....

Edited by: Thomas D. Greer on Sep 5, 2007 7:28 PM
Re: Future role of XPS

PDF will be hard to beat. Very trusted.
Anyone who works with MS Office understands how bad their layout programs suck.
IMO...Microsoft sucks. I do like the XBox though...'m

Adobe I'm sure is on it...


Well-known member
Re: Future role of XPS

>Anyone who works with MS Office understands how bad their layout programs suck.

Most people that use MS Office don't understand the meaning of the word "layout" let alone how poor of a tool Office is to create one.

XPS is interesting, but should be viewed as a competitor to Adobe's Mars format, not PDF. XPS is XML based, which offers editing by more general software tools than PDF. Mars is a XML-based representation of PDF, using SVG as the graphics base rather than PostScript.

XPS is shipping now, although tied to a bloated, slow operating system. Mars is not yet shipping.
Not sure if SilverLight will also be an XPS viewer. Adobe's Reader and AIR will be able to view Mars files, and Acrobat should be able to edit them. I'm not sure if there will be any tools from Micrsoft to view or edit XPS files, or if those tools will be available for platforms other than VIsta.

I see XPS as a Windows-only technology, which to me is a huge disadvantage. As Microsoft continues to force people to consider and use other operating systems, this will make any penetration into the print vertical market difficult for XPS. Because of the large expected installed base of Vista, there _will_ be a market for processing XPS files into something printable, but I think that workflow will be limited to Windows systems, and completely separate from existing workflows. It will be a market some printers decide not to enter.

The XPS booth at GraphExpo would be a good place to see if my fears / opinions are real or imagined.



Re: Future role of XPS

Hi all

I think many of the comments around XPS in this thread have been missing the point. I haven't heard anyone, anywhere, arguing that printers should adopt XPS because it will bring advantages to their own production workflows. The point is that there is a whole sector of print service providers who have large and/or regular customers who are office-based organizations (corporates, government, legal, banking, pharma, etc). There are some pretty good reasons why that kind of organization may choose XPS for their own internal use. That internal use for document sharing will inevitably extend to the corporate reproduction department. CRDs, of course, send work (overflows, longer runs, jobs for specialist output devices etc) to commercial print shops.

Over the last few years the most successful print service providers in that space have been starting to think of their own workflows as simply an extension of their customers'; even to think of themselves as outsources facilities management. When a corporate customer asks them if they can take XPS, what are they going to do? Turn it away?

That's just the executive summary of our predictions; I think somebody already pointed to our white papers and FAQs at http://www.globalgraphics.com/xps/more.html

If anyone's around at GraphExpo and wants a chat on this, come by our station on XPS Land ... I do manage to spend at least a little time there!

Martin Bailey
Global Graphics


Well-known member
Re: Future role of XPS

I agree with much of what Mr. Bailey said. I also wish to thank him for the link to the XPS info on the Global Graphics web site. The FAQ there is more informative about XPS than anything I found on the Microsoft site. I think everyone even remotely interested in XPS should read that FAQ. Nice that there are XPS files posted, so I can poke into them and see how they are constructed.

As I mentioned in my previous post, yes, there will be a market for processing XPS files. One could argue that there was a market for processing WMF or EMF files too ;) I think the question remains whether to deal with XPS directly in a printer workflow, or to provide a client solution that converts XPS files into a format that flows into a well established, tested workflow. Many printers provide a configured Distiller to clients in order to get consistent, usable files. Also factor in that existing formats allow the printer to tap into a large base of experience troubleshooting problems with established formats verses a brand new format with brand new problems and issues. XPS is a business proposition that needs to be weighted carefully, IMHO.

There is a rich, broad "ecosystem" of products and vendors for creating, editing, and processing established formats. The XPS Land at GraphExpo indeed shows that there are spores seeded to create an ecosystem around XPS. I question if the choices will ever be broad enough to bring the advantages of the competition we see surrounding existing formats.

I was surprised that printing to XPS is not like printing to PDF in OS X, only WPF-enabled applications can print to XPS.

Many companies are not migrating quickly to Vista or Office 2007, that's why I think the market for XPS will grow very slowly.

Time for me to read some more about XPS, and see if I can get the SilverLight XPS viewer to work on my Mac or under Moonlight.

I am sorry scheduling issues prevent me from attending GraphExpo, and XPS Land, even though I am in the same state. I would have also liked to have met Mr. Bailey, I hold him in high regard due to his posts to many graphic arts forums and lists.



Well-known member
Re: Future role of XPS

Obviously certain market segments will see XPS files trickling in before others. I don't expect to see national advertisers who are comfortable in PDF switching to XPS nor do I see packaging printers receiving many, but there are a ton of corporate and office environments out there where XPS will do quite nicely. Part of me feels digital printers will see these files first.

We're at the first release of XPS. Of course, it doesn't have all the features found in PDF. But Adobe didn't have every feature we're familiar with today within PDF 1.0. The one big drawback I see now is overprinting. But a lot of this depends on the content and the output.

I would expect the major prepress software providers to provide support for XPS in the near future, some sooner than others.


Systems Enginner
OneVision, Inc.

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