03:58 PM

Microsoft Adds XPS In Office 12 To Fight Adobe

XML Paper Specification, codenamed "Metro," is Microsoft's answer to Adobe's PDF: an electronic document format that can be printed without needing the actual application that created it.

Microsoft will add a "Save As" function in its upcoming Microsoft Office 12 for publishing the developer's own electronic document format, XPS, another move in a competitive campaign against Adobe.

XPS (XML Paper Specification), which has been codenamed "Metro," is Microsoft's answer to Adobe's PDF: an electronic document format that can be printed without needing the actual application which created it.

Office 12 applications -- Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Publisher, Visio, OneNote, and InfoPath -- will include a Save As XPS option, said Jeff Bell, a program manager on the Office development team, in a blog written late Thursday.

"This Office feature provides a one-way export from Office client applications to an application- and platform-independent, paginated format," wrote Bell. To view, and print, an XPS document, users will need a viewer utility, which Microsoft itself will produce for Windows Vista and an unknown number of earlier editions of the Windows OS. "Directly or through partners, [viewers will be produced] for a range of other platforms," added Bell.

This is the second Office format announcement this month. Four weeks ago, Microsoft said Office 12 will have a Save As PDF feature.

"We think choice is a good thing," said Bell.

XPS shares several characteristics with PDF, including support for working hyperlinks, searching, transparencies and gradients, and document rights management. The latter, said Andy Simonds, the group program manager for the Windows Digital Documents Team, is something that should strike a chord with Office users.

"What I think will resonate the most with customers is the ability to roll-out Windows Rights Management Services and use the same infrastructure to rights-manage Office files as well as XPS files," Simonds blogged Friday.

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