XPS Format and Microsoft XPS Viewer

This is an article which talks about the fabulous XPS format from Microsoft and the viewer software which comes with Windows Vista and Windows 7 and surely gives a competitive hit to Adobe's PDF.

XPS is a file format which was developed by Microsoft as an answer to the world wide popularity of a similar format by adobe - the PDF file format. PDF stands for "Portable Document Format" and is today the standard way of sharing documents online because almost every operating system now comes with a PDF viewer. PDF is said to be the database of objects in "postscript" which is also a way of representing documents. XPS on the other hand is a Microsoft format which is open for use by all the world. XPS tries to serve the same purpose as PDF but from a different angle. XPS stands for XML Paper Specification and is dependent on the XML format popularized by the World Wide Web.

Today a lot of software is available in the market to view and edit PDF format documents. Some of the software of the same category also allows you to edit the PDF documents. Some paid software allows you to create them as well. Of all these, the software that allow you to create PDF documents out of any printable document are the most used ones. People use them to convert any printable document to a PDF document for online compatibility. XPS tries to do the same.

If you have installed Windows Vista or Windows 7, then you get a XPS document writer in the list of printers for free. Whenever you want to print a document, you have the XPS document writer available at hand. You can always use this and save your file in a printable format which is so popularly nowadays known as the XPS format. The reason it is popular is that even the spooler service on Windows understands the XPS format.

But just like to view a PDF document, you need a PDF viewer such as Adobe Acrobat Reader, to read a XPS document created by the XPS document writer, you need a XPS viewer. This is where Microsoft XPS viewer comes handy. You can always export your favorite document in the XPS format and save them in the XPS format. You can then take the file to any PC running on Windows Vista and Windows 7 and you will be able to view the document without installing any additional software and you will get the same layout of your original document, no matter what. As Windows Vista and Windows 7 have largely replaced the desktops of all users from Windows XP, the use of XPS viewer and the XPS format matters even the more. While PDF is still free format and you can create documents or export them using other software which may be freeware, XPS is always available to you at hand and it comes with Windows 7 or Windows Vista for free which means that you do not have to download an additional software so that you could be able to preserve the layout and the content of your files.

Features of Microsoft XPS Format

Microsoft XPS Font Embedding - Microsoft XPS format, just like the PDF format also allows you to embed your fonts in the document which you are exporting. This helps you when you are trying to create a great document on your computer using one of your favorite rare fonts available only on your computer but you want to get it printed somewhere else. This helps you to have a unique look to your document and get it printed exactly as you wanted without losing the formatting of your document. This is especially useful when you want to print a document using one of your rare fonts and the person who will actually print it does not have the same font which you have used in your document. In this case, Microsoft Word will automatically replace your font with some other font which may make your document look even worse. The tight integration of XPS format in Windows Operating System solves this issue along with its power of font embedding.

Microsoft XPS Image Embedding - While the PDF format also allows you to embed images in the document, XPS has the same ability and with a few extra features. XPS format will be able to accommodate and hence display all the image formats which Windows can display, which means that you can add any type of image in your document and export it in XPS format without having to worry whether or not they will be displayed.

Not only this, XPS format along with the XPS viewer support, the features like color gradients, CMYK colors (along with RGB) and transparencies just as PNG format supports. Since printer calibration or color calibration is an embedded feature of Windows operating system, the XPS format has an easy support for that as well. All the above means that XPS format will actually support the nice visual features of glow effects, and color blinking right within the document when viewed inside the Microsoft XPS viewer.

Better Image Printouts - Rasterization - Rasterization is a process used by the Operating Systems and the printers equally for making an image available to your monitor and paper. Rasterization is the process of converting the abstract mathematical formulae behind some of complicated mathematical equation which form images in games. They are equally useful in display of graphics. It is the process by which the straight line calculated by the graphics system of the operating system actually converts it to a set of pixels.

If Rasterization is applied to printing a document or image, it would result in artifacts. Artifacts are nothing but blurry or stretched images which come in printing when rasterization is not applied. Since XPS format does the rasterization on its own, the printer is relieved of the same duty and you get a better print out than you would get in a PDF document printout.

XPS and .NET - The framework for XPS comes with the .NET framework. If you have downloaded a .NET framework of version 3.0 or above, you have already enabled the XPS functionality on your computer. If you are using Windows XP, then all you need now is the XPS viewer which is already available as a separate download and as we told earlier in case of Windows Vista and Windows 7, it comes inbuilt.

XPS and Internet Explorer - One of the biggest problems with PDF is that you need to have an external software for viewing the PDF documents but it is not supplied with Windows operating systems by default which means that if you download a document from the Internet in PDF format, you will need to have additional software installed.

If you have Adobe Acrobat Reader or Foxit Reader installed on your computer, then, your PDF documents will get displayed on Internet Explorer using the addon that these software install as a part of their default installation. This takes time to load the document as well as it makes the Internet Explorer heavy. But XPS document support is added in Internet Explorer which comes with Windows Vista and Windows 7 which means you can see a document without installing external software.

Read What are XPS files and how can we create them

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