XPS, PDF and Adobe

So it is certainly an interesting news day today.  For those interested in the world of PDF and XPS, you probably have already read the Wall Street Journal Article about changes we are making because of Adobe.   There are also a few other articles that cover the story in case you do not have access to WSJ on-line:

CNET   TG Daily

Brian Jones Blog also includes a discussion from the Office point of view.


Read Brian’s blog about PDF and Office.  One thing I will add, is that the Office team is making both PDF and XPS ‘save-as’ support as free downloads, instead of built into Office directly.  This is too bad, but is designed to try and resolve any concerns Adobe has with XPS or PDF functionality as part of Office.


Let me cover the Windows side of the story.   For several years we have been sharing detailed plans on XPS with Adobe.  I’d say almost to an excess, we kept them up to speed on our designs and implementation at every step and we’ve made a lot of design modifications based on their input.  They attend our conferences and plug-fests (plug fest: a multi-day meeting at Microsoft where partners learn about new technologies and share implementations) and we value them as an important Microsoft partner.  We see XPS as a platform and still believe that the advances we are making with XPS will have a lot of benefits to Adobe products as well as all the other millions of customers and partners that use the Windows platform


Unfortunately, Adobe has been pushing for us to remove XPS from Windows.  Given the clear benefits of XPS to customers and partners, this is something we can not do.  We are always sensitive to competitor complaints when we design Windows and we’ve tried to address any concerns Adobe may have.  But, we have to first and foremost design our products for customers, not competitors.   XPS support in many ways is a natural evolution to the Windows platform.  Windows has always had a way to publish documents (in the form of printing) and it is natural to move the platform forward improving the quality of the output of documents, making them more programmable and enabling a seamless transition between view and print scenarios.  This is what our customers have been asking from the Windows platform and this is what we are delivering with XPS.  We are very excited to deliver innovations in Windows Vista that address long-standing customer needs.


That being said, in order to accommodate Adobe’s concerns, we have made it so OEMs making PCs can choose to not include XPS as part of Windows.  The core printing enhancements that we have made in Windows, where we have used XPS as the spool file format, is not removable.  Since this makes printing better for everyone, and since Adobe and anyone else that serves the printing market has keen interest in Windows printing improving, there is no contention on that functionality.


Since AIIM and WinHEC, a day does not go by where another customer or big ISV contacts us about building XPS into their document workflows.  Some of these folks are extending XPS in new and exciting ways to provide unique solutions to their customers. These calls come in because they see value in XPS.  XPS solves key customer problems and that will be the value that ultimately drives adoption.  


- Andy

Comments (38)
  1. Michael Jahn says:

    Back in 1994, people in the ‘give me something i can PRINT" world (prepress folks) would have simply killed for customers to send us Mircosoft word files that would ‘stay like the sender sent them’ so we could reliably exchange documents and print them.

    I once met someone named Collene Isabell at Microsoft – she was the person in charge of releasing the Microsoft Word manuals out to be printed. She gave up sending Word files and started sending PDF files to the the people who printed the manuals. Later, she began using Enfocus PitStop Server to convert the PDF files made from Word files from RGB to two spot colors (black and dark blue)

    Thank goodness Word files could be converted into something stable enough to exchange – XPS.

    So, now, we have something else, something new, perhaps one day soon, something better and wildly poular as well as widely accepted.

    People will no longer need Word on thier computer to view a Word document, if exchanged as XPS. Developers will then build "XPS to WORD" converters (so we can then edit XPS files like we do PDF files), and maybe even a way to convert RGB XPS files into to two Pantone spot color PDF files.

    I can see why Adobe is frustrated – before they were needed, now they are having their hat handed to them.

    XPS is better and not based on some 20 year old technology like PostScript or GDI.

    Best of luck to XPS.

  2. Il y a quelque mois j’ai vu que les pdf serait supporte par office 2007, j’ai crie au joie plus besoin…

  3. There have been a ton of really great comments and questions today in relation to the news that we are…

  4. The Insider says:

    Brian Jones did a follow up today on the PDF Legal issues that came about yesterday forcing the Office…

  5. Moi je garderai XPS dans Office (out of the box), et PDF en add-on à downloader.

    Il n’y a pas de raison d’essayer de cacher XPS pour permettre à Adobe de continuer à distribuer son viewer médiocre, et faire de la publicité pour ses produits PDF…

    S’ils veulent que le format PDF soit un add-on, qu’il en soit ainsi, ils n’auront qu’a s’en prendre à eux même dans deux ans lorsque leurs clients de solutions workflow leur répondrons "mais vous savez, nous n’avons plus de document PDF à traiter, tout est à présent en XPS".

  6. Andy Simonds says:

    Phillipe – can you translate? I think it could be an interesting comment, but I can’t quite tell.

  7. Yannick Place says:

    I incidentally came across this post, allow me to spend a minute or two at translating 🙂

    « I would tend to keep XPS in Office (OOB), and PDF as a downloadable add-on. There is no reason to try and hide XPS, just to have Adobe keep on distributing their poor viewer, while advertising their PDF products…

    If they want the PDF format to be an add-on, so be it. But they will be the ones to blame in two years when customers with workflow solutions will turn to them and say "you know, we no longer have any PDF document to process, since everything is in XPS now" »

  8. As you may have already heard, Office 2007 will not provide PDF Support out of the box, to quote Brian…

  9. jace says:

    Andy, is it true that an XPS printer driver or plug-in of some form will be made available downlevel to XP for free?


  10. Andy Simonds says:

    Yes, we will have XPS support for XPS printing.  It will be delivered with the WinFX download and XPS Essentials pack which are available on Windows XP.


  11. If you’ve been following PrintTicket, you know that it’s the way to store printer settings in an XS document. …

  12. A new D2 newsletter hit the stands today.  If you are still not getting the newsletter please go …

  13. Interesting says:

    I wonder what’s the motivation for MS to keep Adobe in the loop when they were developing the technology, just to let them know it’s comming or is really after their valuable input? And how XPS will have a lot benefits to Adobe? your story would be more convincing if you can collaborate on these questions.

  14. Andy Simonds says:

    It’s really just how we work with all of our partners.  We are very open early on with what we are building and specifically sharing that with partners who may be effected.  Since Adobe like many other ISVs builds applications on Windows, and can benifit from any improvement we make in graphics, document output, printing, etc they need to be involved very early to give feedback.  Adobe and many other partners have given us lots of input on XPS and printing in general for Windows vista.  This is just one of those scenarios where companes are big enough that they compete on some things, and at the same time collaborate.  

    – Andy

  15. Ormai si sa che i formati PDF e XPS non saranno presenti nelle versioni standard di Office 2007. Microsoft…

  16. anon says:

    Embrace, extend, … "It’s really just how we work with all of our partners."

  17. Jan Eskildsen says:

    In early 2006 a guy from Global Graphics told, that XPS has the potential of being used in high end printing. Since Global Graphics is only second to Adobe, when it comes to PostScript and PDF RIPSs, I take it, that he by "high end" meant offset printing, but he also told, that .

    He also said, that we still need a chain of tools, and that XPS enables other applications (but which?).

    Can you comment on that?

  18. adrian ford says:

    Hello Jan,

    It sounds like you’re referring to a presentation I gave at the PDF Forum (part of the XPLOR conference) earlier this year.

    The point I was making was that people need to consider more than just the capabilities of the format in judging its suitability for a specific tasks. The feature set of XPS is suitable for high end/commercial printing, but that doesn’t mean it will be used in that arena in the short term. The reason is that workflows in this area (from companies like Kodak, Agfa, Fuji, Screen, Heidelberg etc.) are currently built around PDF, and the tools those workflows use for tasks like imposition, preflight, trapping etc. work mainly with content in PDF and not other file formats. As other commentators on this post have already noted, the ability to use XPS as a delivery format is likely to be where you’ll see XPS used in commercial print initially. The first step after delivery would be a high quality conversion to PDF followed by processing through an existing workflow.

    Dan Shea did a <a href="http://www.planetpdf.com/creative/article.asp?ContentID=7264&fa">report</a&gt; of the PDF Forum for PlanetPDF and there’s further details on

    Stephan Jaeggi’s PDF Forum <a href="http://www.pdf-university.org/">site</a&gt;.

    I now work for Microsoft so, although I’d be happy to assist, I’d recommend you contact Global Graphics direct with any further questions.

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