Metro: read all about it!

This content is 19 years old. I don't routinely update old blog posts as they are only intended to represent a view at a particular point in time. Please be warned that the information here may be out of date.

A while back, I read that Microsoft is switching to XML-based document formats in the next release of Microsoft Office and I just read some more…

According to PDFzone, Microsoft is developing a new document format (codenamed Metro), which is:

  • A new document file format, similar in many ways to portable document format (PDF).
  • A spool format, suitable for spooling to a device through the print subsystem.
  • A page description language, similar to printer control language (PCL) or PostScript, that can be used to transmit the information all the way down to a printer.

Apparently it’s all part of the WinFX API, being developed as part of Windows Vista but also due to be released for Windows XP and Server 2003 and according to Paul Thurrott’s Windows Vista FAQ:

    “Based on XML, Metro is to Windows Vista as Adobe PDF is to Mac OS X: It’s a device- and application-independent printing architecture that allows documents to retain their exact formatting in any application, and when printed. Unlike PDF, however, Metro is based on XML and will be released as an open standard. Metro will also incorporate ZIP technology – similar to that used by the next major version of Microsoft Office – to compress and decompress files on the fly. From a technology standpoint, Metro includes an XML-based electronic paper format called Metro Reach, a document viewer for viewing, managing, and printing Metro files, the ability to digitally sign Metro documents, APIs that allow programmers to integrate their applications and services with Metro, a print pipeline, and a new driver model for Metro-compatible printers.”

Finally, an open document standard that doesn’t require an expensive application license to produce a document (I’m guessing as it’s XML-based, I could write Metro documents using Windows Notepad, – or if I was feeling particularly masochistic, I could use edlin.exe or the UNIX vi editor!). It will be interesting to see how this new format compares with DocBook.

Brian Jones’ blog has more information and links about the Microsoft Office Open XML formats in Office 12.

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