Microsoft XPS Document Writer

The standard for distributing documents is the Adobe PDF file. PDF stands for Portable Document Format. Anyone can download Adobe Acrobat, the free viewer for these files, from the Adobe website. To create PDF files requires special software though. Adobe Distiller is very expensive, but there are cheaper alternatives available and even some freeware PDF creators. Most work by creating a virtual printer in Windows. When you print to that printer, you are prompted for a file name and rather than paper coming out of a printer, your document is saved as a PDF file on your computer.

What most people, even I.T. people it seems, do not know is that Microsoft came up with their own portable document format.  It is called "XML Paper Specification" or XPS. These files can be easily created with the "Microsoft XPS Document Writer". This is a printer driver that is included in every version of Windows since Windows XP Service Pack 2. You have probably seen the Microsoft XPS Document Writer in your list of printers before and wondered what it was.

To make an XPS file, simply print any document from any software in Windows. When you print, choose to print to the Microsoft XPS Document Writer rather than to your normal printer. When you click the print button on the printer selection screen, you will be prompted for a file name. Enter a file name then click the Save button. Presto! you have a new XPS file.

Now you can double-click the file to view it and print it. You can attach it to an email and send it to others to view. In fact, since the XPS format has been part of Windows for so long, it is likely that more of your friends or colleagues can open and view an XPS document than a PDF.