Microsoft's opened the XPS format and has provided APIs so that other developers can create applications that work with the document format, but it also plans to make it a centerpiece of Windows Vista.
"This is bigger than just Office," said Joe Wilcox, an analyst with JupiterResearch.
"Microsoft's treating Adobe as a competitor much more so than in the past," he added. "Look how the deck is stacked: XPS/Metro, Expression, and Windows Workflow Foundation. It's releasing product after product that competes with Adobe."
So it goes with XPS, Wilcox argued. "It made sense for Microsoft to announce [PDF support in Office], because now it's in a position to show the advantages of its own technology against PDF. Microsoft can makes its technology look a lot better, and unlike the basic PDF capabilities it will give Office, fully support its own technology."
For example, Microsoft could support editing of XPS documents within Office 12 applications to make it possible for round-trip document journeys. The developer, however, has not announced such plans.
But it may.
"Watch this space," said Bell in his blog.