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Open XML Paper Specification (OpenXPS)
Filename extension .oxps, .xps
Internet media type application/oxps, application/
Developed by Microsoft, Ecma International
Initial release October 2006
Latest release First Edition / June 16, 2009
Type of format Page description language /
Document file format
Contained by Open Packaging Conventions
Extended from ZIP, XML, XAML
Standard(s) ECMA-388

The Open XML Paper Specification (also referred to as OpenXPS), is a specification for a page description language and a fixed-document format originally developed by Microsoft as XML Paper Specification (XPS) that was later standardized by Ecma International as international standard ECMA-388. It is an XML-based (more precisely XAML-based) specification, based on a new print path and a color-managed vector-based document format that supports device independence and resolution independence. OpenXPS was standardized as an open standard document format on June 16, 2009.[1]


Development of the XML Paper Specification

In 2003 Global Graphics was chosen by Microsoft to provide consultancy and proof of concept development services on XPS and worked with the Windows development teams on the specification and reference architecture for the new format.[2]

The XPS document format consists of structured 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. Notably, the markup language for XPS is a subset of XAML, allowing it to incorporate vector-graphic elements in documents, using XAML to mark up the WPF primitives. The elements used are described in terms of paths and other geometrical primitives.

An XPS file is in fact a ZIP archive using the Open Packaging Conventions, containing the files which make up the document. These include an XML markup file for each page, text, embedded fonts, raster images, 2D vector graphics, as well as the digital rights management information. The contents of an XPS file can be examined simply by opening it in an application which supports ZIP files.


XPS specifies a set of document layout functionality for paged, printable documents. It also has support for features such as color gradients, transparencies, CMYK color spaces, printer calibration, multiple-ink systems and print schemas. XPS supports the Windows Color System color management technology for color conversion precision across devices and higher dynamic range. It also includes a software raster image processor (RIP) which is downloadable separately.[3] The print subsystem also has support for named colors, simplifying color definition for images transmitted to printers supporting those colors.

XPS also supports HD Photo images natively for raster images.[4] The XPS format used in the spool file represents advanced graphics effects such as 3D images, glow effects, and gradients as Windows Presentation Foundation primitives, which are processed by the printer drivers without rasterization, preventing rendering artifacts and reducing computational load.

Similarities with PDF and PostScript

Like Adobe Systems's PDF format, XPS is a fixed-layout document format designed to preserve document fidelity,[5] providing device-independent documents appearance. PDF is a database of objects, created from PostScript and also directly generated from many applications, whereas XPS is based on XML. The filter pipeline architecture of XPS is also similar to the one used in printers supporting the PostScript page description language. PDF includes dynamic capabilities not supported by the XPS format.[6]

Viewing and creating XPS documents

Because the printing architecture of Windows Vista uses XPS as the spooler format,[5] it has native support for generating and reading XPS documents.[7] XPS documents can be created by printing to the virtual XPS printer driver. The XPS Viewer is installed by default in Windows Vista and Windows 7. The viewer is hosted within Internet Explorer. This Internet Explorer-hosted viewer and the XPS Document Writer are also available to Windows XP users when they download the .NET Framework 3.0. The IE-hosted viewer supports digital rights management and digital signatures. Users who do not wish to view XPS documents in the browser can download the XPS Essentials Pack,[8] which includes a standalone viewer and the XPS Document Writer. The XPS Essentials Pack also includes providers to enable the IPreview and IFilter capabilities used by Windows Desktop Search, as well as shell handlers to enable thumbnail views and file properties for XPS documents in Windows Explorer.[9] The XPS Essentials Pack is available for Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, and Windows Vista.[9] Installing this pack enables operating systems prior to Windows Vista to use the XPS print processor, instead of the GDI-based WinPrint[citation needed], which can produce better quality prints for printers that support XPS in hardware (directly consume the format).[10] The print spooler format on these operating systems when printing to older, non-XPS-aware printers, however, remains unchanged.

Windows 7 contains a standalone version of the XPS viewer that supports digital signatures.[11]

Third-party support



Name Publisher Platform Function
Okular Okular team Linux Okular, the document viewer of the KDE project, can display XPS documents.
STDU Viewer STDUtility Microsoft Windows STDU Viewer and display and organize XPS documents (as well as other electronic document formats).
XPS Annotator Microsoft Windows XPS Annotator can display, digitally-sign and annotate XPS documents. In addition, it can convert XPS documents to common picture formats.
Aspose.Words product family ASPOSE Aspose.Words enables application developers to build applications that "generate, modify, convert, render and print" XPS documents as well as some other formats. Aspose.Words is .NET Framework class library rather than an independent computer software; hence it cannot be used by consumers. [12]
NiXPS View NiXPS NiXPS View can display, search and print XPS documents.[13]
  • Microsoft Windows
  • Mac OS X
NiXPS Edit can view, edit, search, print and export XPS documents.[14]
  • Microsoft Windows
  • Mac OS X
NiXPS SDK enables application developers to develop applications that can view, edit or export XPS documents.[15]
Pagemark XpsViewer Pagemark Technology,Inc. Pagemark XpsViewer can display and organize XPS documents as well as converting them to common picture formats.[16]
Pagemark XpsConvert Pagemark Technology,Inc.
  • Microsoft Windows
  • Mac OS
  • Linux
Pagemark XpsConverter, a command-line interface tool, can convert XPS documents to PDF documents, as well as common picture formats.[16]
Pagemark XpsPlugin Pagemark Technology,Inc. Pagemark XpsPlugin, an add-on for Mozilla Firefox and Safari web browsers, enables these web browsers to display XPS documents inside the browser window. This commercial product is still not available for purchase, but a demo version is available.[16]
PDFTron XPSConvert PDFTron
  • Microsoft Windows
  • Mac OS X
  • Linux
PDFTron XPSConvert, a command-line interface tool, can convert XPS documents to PDF format or common picture formats.[17]
  • Microsoft Windows
  • Mac OS X
  • Linux
PDFTron PDF2XPS, a command-line interface tool, can convert PDF documents into XPS documents.[18]
Software Imaging XPSViewer Software Imaging Microsoft Windows Software Imaging XPSViewer, a freeware alternative to Microsoft XPS Viewer, can view and print XPS documents.Software Imaging
NDesk XPS NDesk Mono NDesk XPS can view and convert XPS documents.[19]
Danet Studio Danetsoft Microsoft Windows Danet Studio can create, display, sign, convert and annotate XPS documents. It can split and merge existing XPS documents to create new XPS documents.[20] World Wide Web, an online tool, can convert XPS documents to PDF format.


XPS has the support of printing companies such as Konica Minolta, Sharp,[21] Canon, Epson, Hewlett-Packard,[22] and Xerox[23] and software and hardware companies such as Software Imaging,[24] Pagemark Technology Inc.,[25] Informative Graphics Corp. (IGC),[26] NiXPS NV,[27] Zoran,[28] and Global Graphics.[29]

Native XPS printers have been introduced by Konica Minolta, Toshiba, and Xerox.[30]

Devices that are Certified for Windows Vista level of Windows Logo conformance certificate are required to have XPS drivers for printing since 1 June 2007.[31]


In order to encourage wide use of the format, Microsoft has released XPS under a royalty-free patent license called the Community Promise for XPS,[32][33] allowing users to create implementations of the specification that read, write and render XPS files as long as you include a notice within the source that technologies implemented may be encumbered by patents held by Microsoft. Microsoft also requires that organizations "engaged in the business of developing (i) scanners that output XPS Documents; (ii) printers that consume XPS Documents to produce hard-copy output; or (iii) print driver or raster image software products or components thereof that convert XPS Documents for the purpose of producing hard-copy output, [...] will not sue Microsoft or any of its licensees under the XML Paper Specification or customers for infringement of any XML Paper Specification Derived Patents (as defined below) on account of any manufacture, use, sale, offer for sale, importation or other disposition or promotion of any XML Paper Specification implementations." The specification itself is released under a royalty-free copyright license, allowing its free distribution.[34]


Microsoft submitted the XPS specification to Ecma International.[35]

In June of 2007 Ecma International Technical Committee 46 (TC46) was set up to develop a standard based on the Open XML Paper Specification (OpenXPS).[36]

At the 97th General Assembly held in Budapest, June 16, 2009, Ecma International approved Open XML Paper Specification (OpenXPS) as an Ecma standard (ECMA-388).[1]

TC46's members are:

See also


  1. ^ a b Steve McGibbon (Microsoft) (2009-06-17). "OpenXPS - OpenXML Paper Specification". 
  2. ^ "Global Graphics XPS reference". 2006-09-21. Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  3. ^ "Reference Raster Image Processor (RIP)". 2007-01-09. Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  4. ^ "HD Photo information on Microsoft Photography team blog". 2007-03-12. Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  5. ^ a b Foley, Mary Jo (2005-04-25). "Microsoft Readies New Document Printing Specification". Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  6. ^ "Comparison of PDF, XPS and ODF by an ISV providing PDF solutions". Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  7. ^ "XPS Documents in Windows Vista". Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  8. ^ Download details: XPS Essentials Pack Version 1.0 Microsoft XML Paper Specification Essentials Pack
  9. ^ a b "View and generate XPS". Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  10. ^ XPSDrv Filter Pipeline: Implementation and Best Practice
  11. ^ "View and Generate XPS". Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  12. ^ Aspose.Words Product Family
  13. ^ NiXPS View
  14. ^ NiXPS Edit
  15. ^ NiXPS SDK
  16. ^ a b c Pagemark: XPS Viewer, XPS Converter and XPS Plug-in
  17. ^ PDFTron XPSConvert
  18. ^ PDFTron PDF2XPS
  19. ^ NDesk XPS
  20. ^ Danet Studio
  21. ^ "Sharp Open Systems Architecture supports XPS in multi-function printers".,1080,650-5,00.html#. Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  22. ^ Monckton, Paul. "''IT Week'' 10 November 2006, Canon, Epson and HP support for XPS". Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  23. ^ "''Fuji Xerox and Microsoft Collaborate in Document Management Solutions Field''". 2006-11-28. Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  24. ^ "XPS & Windows Vista". Software Imaging. Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  25. ^ "Bot generated title ->". Pagemark Technology<!. Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  26. ^ Informative Graphics Announces Brava! Annotation, Redaction Support For Microsoft XPS Format
  27. ^ "Bot generated title ->". Nixps<!. Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  28. ^ "Ips Xps". Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  29. ^ "Solutions for XPS document sharing and native XPS printing". Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  30. ^ "XPS Technology Showcase". 2007-04-19. Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  31. ^ "Windows Logo Program Requirements and Policies". Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  32. ^ "Community Promise for XPS". 2007-01-31. Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  33. ^ "Community Promise for XPS FAQs". 2007-01-31. Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  34. ^ XML Paper Specification Licensing, Microsoft. Retrieved on June 8, 2006.
  35. ^ Reimer, Jeremy (2007-07-01). "War and PDF: Microsoft submits XPS to standards body". Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  36. ^ "TC46 - XML Paper Specification (XPS)". Retrieved 2009-12-10. 

External links


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