Open XML Paper Specification

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Open XML Paper Specification (OpenXPS)
Filename extension .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
Extended to .oxps[1]
Standard(s) ECMA-388

Open XML Paper Specification (also referred to as OpenXPS) was an open specification for a page description language and a fixed-document format. Microsoft developed it as the XML Paper Specification (XPS). In June 2009, Ecma International adopted it as international standard ECMA-388.[2]

It was an XML-based (more precisely XAML-based) specification, based on a new print path (print processing data representation and data flow) and a color-managed vector-based document format that supports device independence and resolution independence. In Windows 8 .xps was replaced by an incompatible .oxps format not supported in older Windows versions.[1]


The XPS document format consisted of structured XML markup that defined 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 was a subset of XAML, allowing it to incorporate vector-graphic elements in documents, using XAML to mark up the Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) primitives. The elements used were described in terms of paths and other geometrical primitives.[clarification needed What are paths and primitives?]

An XPS file was, in fact, a Unicoded ZIP archive using the Open Packaging Conventions, containing the files which make up the document. These included 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 could be examined simply by opening it in an application which supports ZIP files.

There are two incompatible OpenXPS formats on the market. The original document writer printed to .xps in Windows 7 and lesser (i.e., Windows Vista and Windows XP). Beginning with Windows 8, the document writer defaulted to the .oxps format. Trying to open .oxps files in Windows 7 or lesser without a .oxps-to.xps converter will result in an error.[1]


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

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

Similarities with PDF and PostScript[edit]

Like Adobe Systems's PDF format, XPS was a fixed-layout document format designed to preserve document fidelity,[5] providing device-independent document appearance. PDF is a database of objects that may be created from PostScript or generated directly from applications, whereas XPS is based on XML. Both formats are compressed, albeit using different methods. The filter pipeline architecture of XPS was also similar to the one used in printers supporting the PostScript page description language. PDF includes dynamic capabilities purposely not supported by the XPS format.[6]

Viewing and creating XPS documents[edit]

XPS is still supported on several versions of Windows.

Because the printing architecture of Windows Vista used XPS as the spooler format,[5] it had native support for generating and reading XPS documents.[7] XPS documents could be created by printing to the virtual XPS printer driver. The XPS Viewer is installed by default in Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8. The viewer was hosted within Internet Explorer (IE) in Windows Vista, but is a native application in 7 and 8 which supports digital signatures. Windows 8 also has a Reader application that reads XPS, OXPS, and PDF files.[8] The IE-hosted XPS viewer and the XPS Document Writer were also available to Windows XP users when they download the .NET Framework 3.0. The IE-hosted viewer supported digital rights management and digital signatures. Users who did not wish to view XPS documents in the browser could download the XPS Essentials Pack,[9] which included a standalone viewer and the XPS Document Writer. The XPS Essentials Pack also included 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.[10] The XPS Essentials Pack is available for Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, and Windows Vista.[10] Installing this pack enables operating systems prior to Windows Vista to use the XPS print spooler[11] instead of the GDI-based WinPrint,[12] which could produce better quality prints for printers that support XPS in hardware (directly consume the format).[13] The print spooler format on these operating systems when printing to older, non-XPS-aware printers, however, remained unchanged.

Third-party support[edit]


Name Platform Function
XPSView XPS and OXPS viewer for Mac. XPSView can convert XPS/OXPS documents to PDF, JPG, JP2, PNG, TIFF, Multi-Page TIFF, BMP and Text. In addition, XPSView extracts raster images from XPS/OXPS file.
Evince Evince is a document viewer for multiple document formats. It can display XPS documents thanks to libgxps.[14]
XPS Viewer Open and read XPS files on Mac instantly, or convert XPS to XPS, PDF, PNG, TIFF, JPEG, GIF, BMP.
MuPDF a lightweight PDF, XPS and OpenXPS viewer, GPL v3
Harlequin RIP Microsoft Windows, Macintosh, Linux, ThreadX etc. Render Microsoft XPS files for print or display. Used in desktop printers, digital production presses, prepress and a variety of software[15]
Okular Okular, the document viewer of the KDE project, can display XPS documents.[16]
STDU Viewer Microsoft Windows STDU Viewer and display and organize XPS documents (as well as other electronic document formats).[citation needed]
SumatraPDF Microsoft Windows SumatraPDF can display XPS documents (among other formats) since version 1.5, thanks to MuPDF.[17]
Xara Designer Pro Microsoft Windows A vector graphics application with XPS export and beta version of XPS import
XPS Annotator Microsoft Windows XPS Annotator is a standalone XPS Viewer which can digitally sign and annotate XPS documents, show digital signatures and convert XPS documents to common picture formats.[18]
XPS to JPG Microsoft Windows Convert XPS documents to JPG/JPEG images.


XPS had the support of printing companies such as Konica Minolta, Sharp,[19] Canon, Epson, Hewlett-Packard,[20] and Xerox[21] and software and hardware companies such as CSR (formerly Zoran),[22] and Global Graphics.[23] Native XPS printers were introduced by Canon, Konica Minolta, Toshiba, and Xerox.[24] Devices at the Certified for Windows level of Windows Logo conformance certification were required to have XPS drivers for printing since 1 June 2007.[25]


To encourage wide use of the format, Microsoft released XPS under a royalty-free patent license called the Community Promise for XPS,[26][27] allowing users to create implementations of the specification that read, write and render XPS files as long as they included a notice within the source that technologies implemented may be encumbered by patents held by Microsoft. Microsoft also required 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 was released under a royalty-free copyright license, allowing its free distribution.[28]

In 2011-09-13, Monotype Imaging Holdings Inc. announced it had licensed its XPS-to-PCL 6 and XPS-to-PostScript vector conversion filters to Microsoft Corp. for use in the next version of Windows.[29][30]

History and standardization[edit]

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.[31] Microsoft submitted the XPS specification to Ecma International.[32] In June 2007 Ecma International Technical Committee 46 (TC46) was set up to develop a standard based on the Open XML Paper Specification (OpenXPS).[33]

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).[34] TC46's members included:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Mitch Prince. "XPS and OXPS file support in Windows 7 and Windows 8". MSDN. Retrieved December 2, 2012. 
  2. ^
  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. ^ "View and Generate XPS". Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  9. ^ Download details: XPS Essentials Pack Version 1.0 Microsoft XML Paper Specification Essentials Pack
  10. ^ a b "View and generate XPS". Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  11. ^ "Microsoft XML Paper Specification Essentials Pack Overview". 2010-02-12. 
  12. ^ "Benefits to print enhancements in Windows Vista". 2007-12-17. 
  13. ^ XPSDrv Filter Pipeline: Implementation and Best Practices
  14. ^ [1]
  15. ^ "Native Interpretation in the Harlequin RIP Converter 1.1". 2009-11-22. 
  16. ^ "Okular Document format handlers status". 2011-11-13. 
  17. ^ "News about SumatraPDF reader". 2012-01-06. 
  18. ^ "XPS Annotator". 2012-01-28. 
  19. ^ "Sharp Open Systems Architecture supports XPS in multi-function printers". Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  20. ^ Monckton, Paul. "''IT Week'' 10 November 2006, Canon, Epson and HP support for XPS". Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  21. ^ "''Fuji Xerox and Microsoft Collaborate in Document Management Solutions Field''". 2006-11-28. Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  22. ^ "Ips Xps". Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  23. ^ "Solutions for XPS document sharing and native XPS printing". Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  24. ^ "XPS Technology Showcase". 2007-04-19. Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  25. ^ "Windows Logo Program Requirements and Policies". Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  26. ^ "Community Promise for XPS". 2007-01-31. Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  27. ^ "Community Promise for XPS FAQs". 2007-01-31. Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  28. ^ XML Paper Specification Licensing, Microsoft. Retrieved on June 8, 2006.
  29. ^ Monotype Imaging Licenses XPS Printer Driver Solution to Microsoft
  30. ^ Monotype Imaging Licenses XPS Printer Driver Solution to Microsoft
  31. ^ "Global Graphics XPS reference". 2006-09-21. Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  32. ^ Reimer, Jeremy (2007-07-01). "War and PDF: Microsoft submits XPS to standards body". Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  33. ^ "TC46 - XML Paper Specification (XPS)". Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  34. ^ Steve McGibbon (Microsoft) (2009-06-17). "OpenXPS - OpenXML Paper Specification". [dead link]

External links[edit]