Is XPS another Microsoft Reader?

I loved Microsoft Reader, I had a ton of .lit files on my Pocket PC and I would save Word docs out as Reader files so I could read them while travelling or even just at home away from my main machine. Other than email, Reader was the ‘killer app’ for me on the Pocket PC. But Reader was never given the love it needed, the Reader plug-in wasn’t available for some versions of Office (at least not right away), you couldn’t find all that many downloads in .lit format. And their DRM/authorizing system was horrible…

Now lately I’ve been thinking about portable documents again… I’d like to pull down a variety of content to a portable device and read it when I’m offline. Reader is still available, but it certainly seems like a ‘dead’ product to me (let me know if you feel different). Now we have XPS, which looks great… but where is the Mobile support? I’m sure it will show up at some point, but I don’t even see a note on the XPS web site like “Windows Mobile X.Y will include XPS support”. Nothing to make me think it is coming. No beta/alpha XPS viewer for my Q, no beta/alpha viewer for the Mac or any other platform…. Are they wating on WPF/E? Well it is out in CTP form and I’m sure the XPS team could have found an earlier build if they wanted to… so…what’s up?

In my perfect view of the world, there would be a viewer out already… we are all one company after all … but the minimum I’d expect to see is some sort of roadmap that tells me that it is coming and coming soon. While I’m on that topic… I have the same comment about the Zune folks and podcast support… I understand that it couldn’t get into v 1.0 in time to ship… but, assuming someone is working on it, maybe we could see a screenshot just to make us feel like it is coming. By the way, I have no idea if anyone is working on podcast support for the Zune or if they aren’t … that is my whole point… why not just tease us a bit with some pictures, at least then we can feel confident waiting…

Some news agencies are calling XPS a ‘PDF killer’, and it may become that, but at the moment it is less portable than a Microsoft Word document… and much less portable than a PDF file…

Author: Duncan Mackenzie

I'm the Developer Lead for the Channel 9 team, formerly worked on MSDN as a developer, content strategist and author.

2 thoughts on “Is XPS another Microsoft Reader?”

  1. Rightly said.

    .lit was great, but MS did not put much ressources into it. One more example, theoretically it supports Unicode but the freely available printing-plugin makes a mess out of documents covering more than just the standard character set. And even normal documents sometimes simply can’t be successfully produced.

    So XPS should be the successor. But we also have the .MDI format, and I do not see a reader / printer for this in the new Office 2007 (am I wrong?). And there never was a PPC viewer. What does that teach us about continuity?

    In the end, we like the technology but are warned by past neglect by its own mother MS.

  2. .MDI is not dead. You don’t see a reader / printer in Office 2007 because you didn’t choose to install this option from the Office installer. Your point is moot.
    As for XPS support in mobile, etc., I’ve never seen MS disclose future plans ahead of time, so I wouldn’t expect them to do so this time. According to blogs I’ve seen though, things are in the works.

Leave a Reply