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Microsoft Adds Autodesk DWF Capabilities to Windows Vista, Widening its Rift with Adobe

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Full article is available for a fee

Randall S. Newton, January 18, 2007

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   Autodesk's official site
   AutoCAD Reading Room - by CAD Digest

For millions of PC users, Windows Vista's ubiquitous support of Adobe PDF settles most issues regarding availability of content. However, in a shot across the bow toward Adobe and its huge lead in electronic document publishing, Microsoft Vista has introduced XML Paper Specification (XPS), a new technology for electronic documents based on XML. This “new standard for document freedom” (in Microsoft's words) draws upon a mix of standards, pseudo-standards and new technology, including elements of the Autodesk DWF electronic document format.

Using DWF in XPS gives Microsoft more than a CAD-based viewing format. DWF is designed to hold design metadata, not just geometry. By tying together bits of DWF with its own SharePoint data management technology, Microsoft has shipped rudimentary product data management (PDM) capabilities in Vista.

The use of DWF technology inside Windows Vista was first demonstrated to the public at Autodesk University last November, the night before Windows Vista began shipping to corporate clients.

XPS is “a copycat”

Meanwhile Adobe will await Microsoft Vista’s final retail release in a few weeks to test Acrobat 8.0 compatibility. “PDF is serving customers well, and we would have preferred to have a dialog and have Microsoft’s participation in extending the value of PDF to the broad community, but instead they’ve chosen to do a 'copycat' product,” said Pam Deziel, director of platform production and marketing for Adobe.

What Deziel calls a “copycat format” is Microsoft XPS, a document storage and viewing specification that describes the formats and rules for distributing, archiving, and rendering electronic documents. The markup language for XPS is a subset of Windows Presentation Foundation, XAML, (based on XML) which specifies how Windows applications will render documents.

What it all means

For now, the ability to view DWF in Windows Vista is limited to 2D. But the move is significant. This puts 2D DWF and scalable, measurable, technically accurate vector graphics on par with JPG or TIFF or the other graphics file formats supported by Windows. It is an obvious coup for Autodesk. This move was hinted at in late 2005 when Autodesk and Microsoft announced a broadening of their existing strategic alliance.

The full article is available for a fee at CADCAMNet.

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