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Karl's Corner: Bodyblow, bodyblow - XPS versus PDF

October 19, 2006

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Editor's Note: Formerly CEO of Planet PDF, Karl De Abrew is now the CEO of Debenu (www.debenu.com) -- maker of the Quick PDF Library (formerly iSEDQuickPDF | QuickPDF) (www.quickpdflibrary.com), a powerful royalty-free PDF developer SDK, and Benubird Pro, the easy-to-use personal document management system.

I've spent quite a considerable amount of my idle time this week pondering over the news published at Ars Technica that Microsoft (at the behest of the EU) has agreed to submit XPS to a standards-setting organization.

According to the article, Microsoft's PDF-killer heads towards standards body:

A company spokesperson told Ars Technica that Microsoft "agreed to submit our new fixed-layout document format -- the XML Paper Specification -- to a standards-setting organization, and to revise the licensing terms on which the specification is made available to other software developers."Microsoft is looking again at its license in order to make it compatible with open source licenses, which means that the "covenant not to sue" will likely be extended to cover any intellectual property dispute stemming from the simple use or incorporation of XPS.

The original Camelot paper defining the concept of PDF was published in 1991, so you're looking at almost 15 years for PDF to have grown a fairly thick and extensive root network within document production workflows across the planet. And PDF is used quite supported heavily by Open Source software and used extensively within Government agencies (who are slow to change) . So all this considered, I don't believe that this news will result in any immediate action ["QUICK! rally the troops, drop everything, and replace our PDFconverters with XPS producers!"] in the battle between PDF and XPS.

However, in the medium to long-term, clearly, this is going to provide great bolstering and support to the XPS camp. One of the biggest selling points of PDF in days gone by has been it's "de facto standard" status. Over-time, one might expect (to Adobe's dismay) that electronic document producing and consuming applications will most probably need to support both formats.

You'll find quite a number of interesting comments in the Ars Technica openforum regarding this. I'd encourage you to take a few minutes to drop by and read through as the implications for our industry (in the long haul) are fairly considerable.

What do you think? Post your comments in the Planet PDF Forum Talkback section.

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