PDF vs XPS: Difference and Comparison

We all come across a variety of documents and files in our daily life. The files and documents that we use are of various types.

They can be saved with various extensions or formed in different ways. Out of many such types, the two most popular types are pdf and XPS.

PDF is a file extension that supports text or other documents. XPS is a type of manager that can print documents.

Key Takeaways

  1. PDF is a widely-used, platform-independent file format developed by Adobe, while XPS is a less common format created by Microsoft.
  2. PDF offers more advanced features like annotations, multimedia support, and digital signatures than XPS.
  3. Windows operating systems natively support XPS, but PDF has broader compatibility across various platforms and devices.


PDF stands for “Portable Document Format” by Adobe. PDF files can be opened with various applications, including Adobe Reader. XPS stands for “XML Paper Specification,” a file format developed by Microsoft. XPS files preserve a document’s layout and formatting and are not as widely supported as PDFs.


PDF is a file extension that helps the user to view documents. PDFs are mostly associated with Abode. PDF support documents with text, images, hyperlinks, 2d vectors, and even videos.

The latest version of PDF also provides the facility of 3D drawing. The feature of OS independence made pdf more popular among users.

It is also most common among users as compared to other file formats.

XPS is a kind of document management software that is based on XML paper specifications. It helps to print, annotate, view, or edit the document.

It helps to annotate on handwritten notes and typed text. It also provides the facility to highlight the text.

It is a bit more advanced than PDF.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonPDFXPS
DefineIt helps to view, edit the document.It helps to view, edit as well as annotate the document.
LanguageIt is based on the PostScript language.It is based on XML language.
ViewerThe PDF files can be viewed using adobe.XPS files can be viewed using XPS viewer.
AbbreviationPortable Document FormatXML Page Specification.
ExtensionIt uses .pdf extension.It uses .xps or .oxps extension.

What is PDF?

PDF is abbreviated as Portable Document Format, which supports documents in many ways. It is a file format that was developed by Adobe in 1992 to view or edit a document.

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It is independent of the Operating system, hardware, and software of documents. Each PDF file encapsulates the description of a flat document which includes font, vector graphics, etc.

PDF files may contain a variety of content such as images, text, graphics, logical elements, interactive elements, etc. The specification of PDF also allows encryption and digital signatures.

A PDF file is a combination of vector graphics, bitmap graphics, and text.

PDF is a combination of three basic technologies, i.e., PostScript, font-embedding, and data compression. PostScript language is a page description language.

It helps to handle graphics and other programming statements such as loop if-else. PDF file contains 7-bit ASCII characters.

There are two layouts for a PDF file. The first one is “non-linearized,” and the second is “linearized.”

Nonlinear pdf can be smaller than linear ones but are slow to access. The linearized layout can be read in web browser mode without waiting to download all the content.

PDF files also provide the feature of security. The PDF files can be encrypted by setting a password to view or edit content.

It also provides the feature of a digital signature for secure authentication.


What is XPS?

XPS is a document management software that is used to view, annotate, convert, sign or print the document. It was released in 2009.

It is abbreviated as Open XML Paper Specification. The main feature of XPS which makes it different from others is the feature of annotation.

XPS document consists of XML markup to define the layout of the document and the visual appearance of each page. It has two formats, one is .xps, and another is .oxps.

It is authorized by Microsoft. All the versions of windows after Windows Vista support viewing and creating of XPS documents.

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It provides three main features highlight annotation, text annotation, and ink annotation. Highlight annotation means the user can highlight text or paragraphs.

Ink and text annotation means the user can add text notes or ink notes. XPS also provides the feature of a digital signature.

The user can digitally sign the document for authentication purposes.

XPS files are also convertible. It means that we can convert XPS files into image files like png, jpeg, BMP, gif, etc.

XPS also provides the feature of printing the document. It also helps to provide hyperlinks to the existing document.

It also supports other general features like text, zoom, copies and paste, word search, etc.

Main Differences Between PDF and XPS

  1. PDF is developed by Adobe. On the other hand, XPS is developed by Microsoft.
  2. Both the files have different view systems. The PDF file can be viewed by an adobe reader. Whereas XPS files can be viewed using XPS viewer.
  3. PDF format of the file does not support the feature of annotation. Whereas XPS format provides the facility of annotation.
  4. PDF files support Postscript language and are Reflowable, whereas XPS files support XML language and are not Reflowable.
  5. PDF is platform, OS, and device-independent. Whereas XPS is not that flexible.
Difference Between PDF and XPS
  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0360128585900024
  2. https://analyticalsciencejournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/sia.740150307

Last Updated : 16 July, 2023

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