Microsoft submits XPS alternative to PDF to ECMA for standardization

Microsoft submits XPS alternative to PDF to ECMA for standardization

Summary: Like it has done with its Open XML specification, Microsoft is pushing its XML Paper Specification (XPS) alternative to PDF through the standards bodies. And just like the case with Open XML, Microsoft's competitors are lining up to diss Redmond's standards moves.

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TOPICS: Microsoft
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Like it has done with its Open XML specification, Microsoft is pushing its XML Paper Specification (XPS) alternative to PDF through the standards bodies. And just like the case with Open XML, Microsoft's competitors are lining up to diss Redmond's standards moves.

Even Microsoft's critics admit they don't like the "heavy-handed" way that Adobe turned PDF into a standard. But they are equally unenamored of Microsoft's plans to try to get "open standards" status for XPS. The most-often-stated objection to Microsoft's XPS push: A standard shouldn't be created, administered and maintained by a single vendor. Otherwise, it's not really "a standard" in the pure sense of the term.

Microsoft has integrated XPS into Vista and Office 2007, and has been seeking hardware and software partners to license and support the various components of XPS.

Andrew Updegrove, cofounder of Gesmer Updegrove LLP and editor of the ConsortiumInfo.Org blog -- as well as one of the leading opponents to Microsoft's Open XML standardization effort -- issued a dire prediction:

"If OOXML (Office Open XML), and now Microsoft XML Paper Specification, each sail through Ecma and are then adopted by ISO/IEC JTC1, then I think that we might as well declare 'game over' for open standards."

I've been no fan of Microsoft's methods for drumming up support for its standardization effort around Open XML. But I don't see how the existence of multiple standards portends the end of open standards ... even if a company that has abused its monopoly power is one of the players. Doesn't "open standards" mean they should be open to the inclusion of technologies from anyone, even Microsoft?

Microsoft, like IBM, Sun and every other open-source and closed-source tech vendor needs to have its technologies designated as "open standards" in order to qualify for many requests for proposals, especially from government customers. That's what's behind Microsoft's attempts to get standard status for Open XML and XPS.

Former Softie Stephen Walli says XPS is too green to have earned standards status. Do you agree? Other reasons you think Microsoft's XPS shouldn't get ECMA and/or ISO standards status?

Update: Speaking of standards wars, Microsoft has gotten Open XML added as one of the proposed standards that will be part of Massachusetts' list of accepted open standards. The state's IT department is seeking comment on the proposed revision to its policy document.

Topic: Microsoft

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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72 comments
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  • No problem to XPS being a standard...

    ... provided the "intellectual property" (if such a thing can be applied to an open standard) is conferred to the standards body and is not held by Microsoft so that everyone who wants to use it will be able to do so; unencumbered by the burdern of having to buy a licence (or some other payment to) Microsoft.

    If that were to happen then I would accept the MS-needs-to-be-open-for-government-proposals argument. Otherwise I can't help but think of RAMBUS.
    BanjoPaterson
    • How are changes controlled?

      Let's say that Microsoft guaranteed that the format will be available for everyone's use without charge, but set two conditions:

      First, the format may not be changed so much that it ceases to operate with other software. Think of this as an equivalent to Sun's Write-Once control over Java.

      Second, if Microsoft discovered a way to modify the approved standard to provide a new feature which the company believed would greatly increase sales, the revised version of the format would not have to await approval by every Microsoft competitor which gains financially from slowing Microsoft's efforts.
      That's about the speed of implementing the change; the format would be as available to third parties as previously.

      These may seem self-evidently appropriate, but they have produced disputes in the past. Sometimes standards are market competition by another name.
      Anton Philidor
      • You are in sad need of a dictionary

        Microsoft cannot change an "approved
        standard". If they could, it wouldn't be
        a standard. Get it?

        Why do you think they want to have it
        approved?

        Some of you guys are just too smart for
        your own good. You think yourself into a
        dead end and don't have a brain reverse,
        or think in neverending circles.
        Ole Man
        • Ok, teach me master

          first off, i think he meant any changes would need apporved by standards body but not requiring approval by competitors. <br><br>
          What about adobe acrobat reader? How did that totally proprietary format become a standard? Can version 5.0 of adobe reader, read version 8.0 documents? In other words, has Adobe only added functionality w/o touching the file format, or have they enhanced to format itself over time? I've noticed that there are around 2 updates available for abode's reader per year. And why does a "standard" continue on w/o any complaint when it balls up windows all the time. Tell me you've never started to shut down windows only to find adobe code needs killed off before shutdown can continue. The code seems though it's not written well, since it can't close itself correctly part of the time.
          xuniL_z
  • What's the problem?

    [i]The most-often-stated objection to Microsoft?s XPS push: A standard shouldn?t be created, administered and maintained by a single vendor. Otherwise, it?s not really ?a standard? in the pure sense of the term.[/i]

    From a practical stand point, this is preferred, as it would mean the evolution of the standard can take place quickly - and not be encumbered by politics, etc.

    [i]I?ve been no fan of Microsoft?s methods for drumming up support for its standardization effort around Open XML. But I don?t see how the existence of multiple standards portends the end of open standards ? even if a company that has abused its monopoly power is one of the players. Doesn?t ?open standards? mean they should be open to the inclusion of technologies from anyone, even Microsoft?[/i]

    Don't we have the Metric System and the English System? Don't we have PAL and NTSC? Why is it all of a sudden wrong to have multiple standards?
    P. Douglas
    • wrong to have multiple standards?

      We already have multiple standards.
      Hundreds of them. They don't need to
      be "approved". Anyone can have them if
      they pay for them, and anyone can
      download them if they are free.

      Don't confuse "multiple standards"
      with "open standards". The open in open
      standards means it's open for all to
      use, for free, for everyone, even for
      Microsoft, even for (shudder) you. It
      also means Microsoft cannot charge a fee
      for it's use, nor change it so it works
      better for Microsoft's wares than
      other's. Microsoft cannot control open
      standards.
      Ole Man
  • Multiple standards provide CHOICE

    The more CHOICE everyone has the better...
    No_Ax_to_Grind
    • Choice?

      M$ wants nothing to do with choice. Its about control. Control over licensing. Control over platform (limiting it to Windows, or even a Windows version. And mostly $$$$$$$$$$. Don't be fooled. This is just another way for M$ to line its pockets and lock out Linux.
      DarthRidiculous
      • You think that's a big deal.....

        OSS and predominently the FSF with GPLv3 show they want to control all of how software is written, licensed, standardized, moralized, ideologized, radicalized, zealotized... implemented, who can and who can't interoperate with software, what's best for everyone concerned whether they prefer capitalism or not, who does it right, who does it wrong, what is right and what is wrong in general, how we should live, how we should not use cell phones, how we should not marry, how we should not have children, how we should live as minimalists devoting all of our time to free software. ......which turns out is NOT free software since you have to pay for it, for one, and secondly they want NO choice but their methods, licenses and standards...how free is that. They are so radical about it, it legitimizes Microsoft even further in the minds of hard working, get what you pay for, capitalists the world over.
        xuniL_z
        • Rant rant rant, rave, rave, rave!

          Jump up and down and shake your fist.
          See how much good that does you.

          OSS doesn't give two whoops in hades
          what you do with your Microsoft crap or
          how you use it or who you share it with.

          If you don't like the GPLv3 just don't
          use it, leave it alone, don't even look
          at it, and it won't bother you.

          Use and enjoy your Microsoft crap and
          have fun reading your EULA. Then you can
          be happy.
          Ole Man
          • Pot, kettle, black.

            <i>If you don't like the GPLv3 just don't
            use it, leave it alone, don't even look
            at it, and it won't bother you.
            </i><br><br>
            Is this why i see you posting ABMer crap all over the forum? It's somehow bothering you? I realize you have a permanent bug up your butt, but doesn't this same thing apply to you? You don't need Windows, so why not leave it alone, don't say another word and it won't bother you. <br><br>
            <i>OSS doesn't give two whoops in hades
            what you do with your Microsoft crap or
            how you use it or who you share it with.
            </i><br><br>
            Is that right? Ok, you are the man. You know it all. I can now take proprietary windows code and mix it with GPLv3 open code and create and sell a hybrid product of partially open partially closed source. I was thinking that was against natural law let alone against the GPLv3 licensing, but you the man.
            xuniL_z
          • Complete nonesense, and you know it

            Admitting that you are a "kettle"
            doesn't make me a "pot". I couldn't
            stoop low enough to think of a
            comparison.

            Who are you to decide whether I need
            Windows or not? FYI, whether I need it
            or not, I have purchased Windows, I use
            Windows, and I have every right to
            complain about Microsoft's predatory
            practices whenever it concerns Windows.

            My statement was simple, relevant, and
            straightforward. Why do you spend so
            much time and energy ranting, railing,
            spreading false doctrine, and lying
            about a product that you don't use and
            have no intention of using?

            You have never answered a question, so
            everyone knows that you won't start now.
            C'mon, let's hear some more blah blah
            blah blah rant rant rant rave rave rave
            lie lie lie. I'll watch for it. I know
            it's on the way.
            Ole Man
          • well

            maybe you weren't paying attention. I pay taxes and I have every right to complain about the FSF, Moxilla.org and any other entity that gets tax breaks at MY expense, then spreads hate, starts smear campaigns with web sites designed to recruit other windows haters to go out and do hateful acts. No way sir, I don't approve of it. I don't approve of all of my money that went into Unix from federal funding for decades either. Now Linux is enjoying the same benefits, uses the same security model (pretends to have built it that way from the ground up). Look at SUN Micro. McNeally had his Microsoft bashing sessions, yet it was he that was handed every bit of technology SUN had and they've not come all that far....from tzx dollars. You know yourself that SUN was backed by the FEDS to privitize the technology they had spent billions on at PARC, Berkeley and Standford (to name a few). SUN stands for Stanford University Network. McNeally was a student, and although very bright, i don't believe companies should be built and backed by the governement. Funniest part was they've kept most of their code proprietary after being given newer Unix technology, RISC processors and technology...the whole thing. <br>
            So as far as the $$$$$ goes, Linux ala Unix has cost Americans, at least, more than they'd pay for a new windows system every year for a lifetime. <br>
            I have every right to complain about anything I want to, so don't try to tell me what to do or not say about GPLv3 and the "our way or nothing" attitude of it all.
            <br>
            balderdash!
            xuniL_z
        • Excuse me?

          Who the hell are you to presume to speak for me? And how could you be so stupid as to assume that high price equals quality? If a product or a tool costs half the competitors price, but does the job faster and better, did you get fleeced by not paying twice as much? If your neighbor gives you his old axe because he just bought a new one, are you a "commie" if you use it to chop wood 'cause you didn't pay for it?

          By the way, fool, Linux isn't free if you want to pay for it; otherwise it's totally free! From now on, I would appreciate it if you wouldn't speak for people you don't know. M$ has one goal; to force the whole world to use it's products and eliminate ALL competition. I'm typing this on Mint Linux, because I decided to break the M$ monopolistic, proprietary "habit." Guess that makes me a "commie" in your small world, huh?


          A "recovering Windows addict"
          cheesyone
          • Don't worry

            I surely wasn't talking about you, pal. I was talking about how the head of the entire free software movement is trying to tell everyone how to live. Need proof, search on Stalin....i mean stallman speech at Lehigh. <br>
            Listen, i know all about linux and what it costs or doesn't cost. I also know much of it's technology was paid for by federal spending, or my tax dollars, so don't presume to tell me what I'm paying for and what I'm not, fool. <br>
            I was speaking the those 90+% capitalists that use Windows. So if you are not one of them, then it wasn't for you. <br>
            Glad you can admit you were addicted to windows. Most people do get addicted it's THAT GOOD. You don't get addicted to crap now do you? <br>
            personally, i've never even fathomed the possibility of being addicted to a freaking computer program. That's pretty sad. <br>
            Hope you don't relapse. But you probably will.
            xuniL_z
      • Blah, blah, blah... Then CHOOSE something else.

        I mean you are capable of making a choiuce aren't you?
        Oh I see, you want to force the rest of the world to live by your choices. Buwahahahahahahaha, like that is going to happen...
        No_Ax_to_Grind
        • Absolutely correct

          There is plenty of choice out there, and all choices come with pros and cons. You can reason with people to see that your choice is better, but you cannot force them. Fortunately it's not all that difficult to find some middle ground if you're not too stubborn about it. Especially with office docs, because all the major players have converters that go back and forth. And I'm sure XPS and PDF will have converters which go back and forth as soon as customer demand is high enough.
          Michael Kelly
        • "Buwahahahahahahaha"

          He probably already made his choice.

          You are free to make your choice, and
          then you know where you can shove it,
          don't you?

          Buwahahahahahahaha
          Ole Man
      • I see your point

        We all have choices in office software to decide between, as long as the FSF tells us what those choices are.
        John Zern
        • Sight impaired?

          You see the point? Well, here's a point to ponder: If I prepare a document in Word or Excel, who can open it, and edit the thing? Only someone using Windows, or a Mac with M$ licensed emulator, and of course those 'Nix users with Crossover Office. But even on a M$ machine, if I prepare the same documents in Star Office or OOo, What OS or emulators do you need to open, use and edit the document? Who cares; it will work with Windows, Linux, BSD, Mac OSX, Solaris, etc., etc., etc. And no emulators! because it can be saved in ODF form and in M$s proprietary forms.

          Which is better? If you only deal with those using Windows or who use an emulator, then the proprietary system is fine. Or, if want to interact with the entire world, ODF is the best. But real choice is only possible when you can run any system and interact with any other system. M$s position has always been "our way or the highway."
          cheesyone