It is not necessarily that interesting of a story for Microsoft to talk about how we are using our own technology (duh)!  But certainly when the Office team announced support for ‘save-as’ PDF in Office “12” earlier in the month, it raised speculation about if the same support would be there for XPS.  It should come as no surprise that Office “12” will natively support ‘save-as’ XPS.  You can find details on this support in Jeff Bell’s blog from the Office team. 

 

Office support for ‘save-as’ XPS has been in development for quite a while.  In the builds I have played with, it is looking quite good -- document quality is outstanding!  The XPS files created have additional document structure and things like hyperlinks that are hard to get through a print driver.  I think it is good that the Office team is responding to customer demand to offer the ability to create PDF, as well as make a bet on the future innovations possible with XPS.

 

XPS output from Office, however is really only a small part of the overall XPS story for Microsoft.   We started collaborating with the Office team a long time ago to build the Office “12” XML format and the XPS format on the new Open Packaging Conventions.  That is the packaging technology using ZIP and XML that provides a common architecture for packing up parts in a file format.  From a developer point-of-view, a single piece of code that reads and writes content and metadata, digitally signs and rights-manage both Office “12” XML files and XPS files.  Because these formats are open and fully documented, this makes effortless integration of these files into any document workflow.  Plus, in the new Windows Presentation Foundation, we have a great set of APIs that make this easy for any developer building Windows applications to perform these operations on any file type that uses Open Packaging Conventions.  See Jesse McGatha’s slides from PDC to read more about this.

 

What I think will resonate the most with customers is the ability to roll-out Windows Rights Management Services (RMS) and use the same infrastructure to rights-manage Office files as well as XPS files.  In fact, we are starting to use this functionality in Building 2 right now – sending each other XPS documents that are protected for the first time!  There is nothing unique about XPS that supports RMS, just the fact that we are using Open Packaging Conventions (you could also RM protect XPS using some other rights-management product).   Think of the following scenarios that are now enabled:

           

-          An Office “12” user has defined a group of co-workers who can view a new Word document. They publish an XPS for review and Word automatically restricts access to the XPS to the same set of people, ensuring that the information stays within the group.

-          An Outlook user attaches an Office “12” Word document and an XPS Document to an email and places “do not print” restrictions on the email. Authenticated users that have Office can open the .docx, and any Windows XP or Windows Vista user can open the XPS. But both documents have the same restricted permissions.

-          A workflow application can define who can have what permissions for an entire library of Office “12” and XPS document at once.

 

I’ll be specific about when the scenarios are up and working in later blogs.

 

We have talked a lot about the benefits of XPS for printing, scanning and simple document creating, publishing and sharing for a while.  I think it is great to see some of the deep investments we have made in the architecture of the file format, and the APIs integrated into the Windows Presentation Foundation start paying off.  Developers are getting excited, and the possibilities of what you can do with XPS and Office “12” Open XML files just gets better and better.

 

- Andy