Technological Developments — More Changes Reshaping the Industry
XPS—A New File Format
The other potentially disruptive technology touted at Graph Expo was XPS, a new file format specification promulgated by Microsoft. “XPS” stands for XML Paper Specification, which is a core printing technology in Microsoft’s new Vista operating system. XPS claims to be a complete XML-based specification for a printer page description language based on a new print path, a color management device-independent and resolution-independent vector-based format, which is an exact representation of printed output and supports printing features such as gradients, transparencies, CMYK color space, named colors, printer calibration and print schemas.
The specification describes the appearance of fixed format documents by using a structured XML document format. The XPS document format consists of XML markup that defines the layout of a document and the visual appearance of each page along with rendering rules for distributing, archiving, rendering, processing and printing the documents.
XPS is a serious Microsoft effort to enter the commercial-quality printing output marketplace and as such could prove disruptive to the almost universally used PDF format and the established protocols of commercial prepress.
Working with Microsoft and demonstrating XPS at Graph Expo were Quality Logic, Quark, Konica-Minolta, Xerox, Global Graphics, Screen, Xitron, Software Imaging and Zoran. While many of the industry’s big players were not represented in Graph Expo’s XPS showcase, the initial level of support indicates that the technology may have legs and disrupt Postscript and PDF, the legacy Adobe file formats that are deeply entrenched in the professional print production arena.
What appears likely to PrintCom is that since XPS is the default print mechanism for Vista, it will gradually penetrate the high-end printing market through corporate document preparers that currently use files like Word and PowerPoint to prepare files for commercial printing output. While it appears that XPS could be a significant improvement over Word-type files, our best take is that it will not be a cure-all.