Microsoft’s anti-PDF standard soon?
Geneva – After Open XML, ECMA is preparing to standardize another native format of Office 2007: XML Paper Specification (XPS), direct rival of the famous PDF format from Adobe.
The international organization set up a working group called TC46 which, according to the ECMA website, has the task of “creating a standard for an electronic document format based on XML and for a page description language, both compatible with pre-existing implementations of the XML Paper Specification format”.
Microsoft hopes ECMA’s blessing can make XPS an even more attractive alternative to PDF format , also allowing it to submit the future standard for ISO approval. It is a similar path to that followed by Adobe for PDF, the specification of which is currently under consideration by the Enterprise Content Management Association (AIIM) and, as soon as it is ready, will be proposed to ISO. The big difference is that while PDF is a de facto standard, already widespread, XPS has just taken its first steps, so much so that the only implementation currently available is that of Microsoft.
Although at the moment the license accompanying XPS is very restrictive , BigM said it was willing to review the clauses in order to make it available to software developers. In the recent past Microsoft had already suggested that the XPS license would be royalty-free – now it’s ready to go one step further and make its own format open just enough to allow its implementation even on operating systems other than Windows .
Many people oppose Microsoft’s strategies, especially among the open source community. Critics accuse BigM of using standardization bodies to create closed standards that bind users to its proprietary technologies.
“If Open XML and now XPS pass the ECMA exam, and are then adopted by the ISO / IEC JTC1 committee, then I believe that for open standards we will be able to declare game over,” said Andrew Updegrove, a lawyer who is part of the board of directors of the Linux Foundation. “It is time for international organizations to draw a line in the sand and reject ECMA 376 before it’s too late.” ECMA 376 is the formal name of the Office Open XML File Formats standard approved last December and now under review by ISO.
Among the opponents that Microsoft has to contend with is Adobe, which last year prevented the Redmond giant from integrating a filter for importing and exporting documents in PDF format in Office 2007. This filter is now available as an add-in to be downloaded separately.