XPS Unknown by Microsoft Support

Recently I had to contact Microsoft support. I stated my issue and gave a copy of my print out relating to the issue, as an XPS. This is convenient to do, as after installing .NET 3.0 Framework, which gives you XPS support, the option to print to XPS is available. The reply I got back however, was

“The file you had sent to us was not in a file type I could bring up. I would advise you to send it back to us in a different format so we can easily view the file.”

This knocked me to the floor! How could Microsoft support not open an XPS! Firstly, as stated on fileinfo.net:

“XPS files can be opened with Microsoft’s XPS Viewer, included with Windows Vista”

So why is Microsoft support not using Vista? Secondly, when opening an unknown file type, Windows default file type unknown dialog would point them to the the page http://shell.windows.com/fileassoc/0409/xml/redir.asp?EXT=xps, which clearly states what it is and what they need to do.

So I sent an email to the XPS team about my issue, and got very polite replying saying thanks for the interest and feedback, and they are following up the issue with the teams involved. Let’s hope they do. XPS from a .NET developers perspective is just brilliant. Even if the format is not as featured or whatever as PDFs, the ease of creation due to the XAML declaration is just too easy to ignore. Not to mention the Adobe Reader (currently version 9.1 and 41.1MB!) is way too bloated (use Foxit Reader, version 3.0, 3.26MB).

The issue holding XPS up is that is it not in wide enough support yet. I have sent them to family and friends and get the same type of reply from them, as I did from Microsoft support. Hopefully with more applications using .NET 3.0 and Windows Vista & 7 adoption on the increase, this will be resolved soon. Then, as a developer, I can say goodbye to painful PDF creation.

To make sure you have got all you need for XPS, be sure to install the Microsoft XPS Essentials Pack (7.2MB – 9.0MB, after .NET 3.0 Framework, which you should have anyway!). Although you get viewing and creating abilities with just .NET 3.0, the pack also gives you an IFilter for Windows Vista\Desktop Search and IPreviewHandler for Windows Vista Explorer previews, and Outlook 2007 previewer:

On a positive note, Microsoft support was very good. Very fast responses and when I sent the print out as a PDF my issue was very quickly resolved.

Aside: Same issue with internal adoption of Microsoft’s standards. The Inside Windows Live Messenger blog, has flash at the front, instead of Silverlight. I would have thought, since Messenger 9 has sprinkles of WPF, Silverlight would be a no brainer.

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