XPS is an abbreviation from XML Paper Specification format. This is an XML-based representation for electronic documents. Its structure allows saving the look-n-feel of original paper documents in electronic view. It was developed by Microsoft and released in 2006. Last time the format was updated in 2009, since then its development has been stopped. The major purpose is ability to share and print documents in their original formatting.
XPS has much in common with PDF or PS. It also utilizes high-quality compression schemes and serves for saving, sharing or printing documents, and not for editing. XPS files can only be viewed in a few programs. Here are they:
XPS Viewer - a shareware program for Windows that simply opens XPS files and allows reading them;
XPSView - a viewer for Mac OS X system;
Evince - an XPS viewer for Linux-based systems;
Xara Designer Pro - a graphic editor that can import XPS files in beta version.
Editing XPS file is a big problem. As initially this format was not meant for editing, there are no user applications for modifying existing XPS files. Program add-ons only help to create XPS documents from other document formats. For instance, if you are running MS Word and would like to save the document to XPS format, you may use virtual XPS printer.
The format provides lighter file size compared to PDF, so it would be more preferable for storing documents compactly. However, limited support for XPS may be a problem for sharing XPS documents with others.
Today XPS is often used for exporting various data feeds and storing/sharing/printing documents in original formatting. This format supports digital signature, so the data integrity can be protected and verified, when needed. It is a suitable choice for backing up emails, commercial documents and other important information. However, if you want to export XPS files to more common file types like DOC, PDF, TXT, TIFF, Total PDF Converter can help you.