Back in 2006 I gave a presentation at the PDF-Forum, an event put together by Stephan Jaeggi and run alongside the Xplor Conference, where I spoke about the use of XPS in high-end printing (commercial printing, pre-press and related areas). One of the points I made in that presentation was to draw a distinction between the capabilities of a format and the features in a format that applications elect to implement.
For example: the XPS format is _very_ capable when handling content intended for commercial print. It supports specification of color using CMYK, N-channel and spot representations (in addition to sRGB and scRGB); color is always profiled (i.e. represented in a device independent way); and fonts are always embedded [*]. But that's only half the story. Support in applications is also needed if the format is to be useful in practice, and, for commercial printing, those applications do not just cover the content creation and consumption tasks, but include a whole ecosystem of tools and utilities that make up the pre-press workflow. These include processes like pre-flight (that analyzes the content of a document and checks it against a set of rules to ensure it will print correctly on the press); imposition (that lays out multiple pages onto larger sheets equivalent to enable more efficient printing with larger plates on the press); or trapping (which modifies page content to compensate for small alignment errors on the press).
The reason I mention all this, is that last week Quality Logic announced XPREF, a tool that provides preflight and optimization for XPS documents and which is designed to be integrated into larger document workflows, including those for print. What's exciting about this announcement is not that it addresses one of the areas I called out at the PDF-Forum, but that it is another example of a vendor that's building something really interesting around the XPS format.
With the XPS format we wanted to enable a rich ecosystem that provided productive solutions for a range of print-related issues, as well as new innovation opportunities for those building on the platform that the format provides. We're seeing more and more XPS-based solutions that go beyond the functionality we provide in our implementations, each contributing to the vibrant ecosystem that is developing around XPS and that extends far beyond the Windows print path.
[*] except when they're rasterized to ensure compliance with font licensing flags.