Difference Between PDF and XPS

Key Difference – PDF vs XPS

The key difference between PDF and XPS is that PDF can be opened with the use of a browser or a reader while XPS needs to be opened using a browser. While XPS is able to support annotations, PDF is ideal for editing, viewing and compressing documents.

If you are a person who works with online documents, it would be a good idea to know about the document formats that exist out there. Out of these documents, the PDF and the XPS documents are the most common formats used for document viewing. Although both can be used to view documents, they can also be used to edit and secure them when the need arises. However, there are differences between the two formats that need to be noted.

What is PDF?

PDF was developed by adobe file systems. The PDF file extension refers to such a document. PDF is mostly associated with Adobe PDF. PDF stands for Portable Document Format. PDFs are two-dimensional documents that are independent of operating system hardware or software. PDF documents are able to support text, buttons, hyperlinks, videos, images and 2D vectors. The latest version of Adobe PDF is able to support even 3D drawings with the use of Acrobat 3D.

Usually, flyers, job applications, e-books, product materials, brochures and other documents are in the PDF format. As they are not dependent on the software, operating systems, or the hardware, these documents look the same on all the devices they are opened in. Abode Acrobat Reader is the software that is used to open PDF documents. The Adobe created PDF, and it is one of the popular pdf readers. The software is feature filled, but sometimes these features may never be used. PDFs can be opened by browsers like Chrome and Firefox. When clicking on a PDF file online, an extension may help in opening up the file automatically. SumatraPDF and MuPDF are free PDF reader that come with basic features.

PDFs can be edited with the use of applications like Adobe Acrobat and Microsoft Word. There are also free online PDF editors like PDFescape and DocHub. These online editors can help you fill out forms and job applications in pdf formats. You will need to upload the file and do things like insert text, links, signatures and images and afterward you can download it back to the computer.

Many people try to convert PDF files into various formats to edit content within them.  Adobe PDF can be classified as a royalty software, where the user does not need to pay anything to read or write. Although Adobe holds the patent for the software, there is no need to make any payments. The PDF software is powered using three specified technologies. A postscript programming language allows generating layouts and graphics. The software also comes with a font embedding system for fonts to travel with the document. A structure storage system is also in place to bundle all the files together. This feature also supports data compression.

Difference Between PDF and XPS

What is XPS

XPS is a document management software that is able to print, convert, view and annotate documents in the Windows platform.  Windows installer activates this software in the beginning.  After the 1.22 version was released the Inno installer is used to create the installer.  The created Exe files are in ZIP format initially. This ZIP format will contain the readme file and the elements that are required to install the software.

Any Open XML document can be made to support annotations. PDF files do not support Annotations, but XPS files are able to support it. But, this feature is limited. XPS is able to support annotations for typed text, web links, and handwritten text. Users are able to add three options into the documents. Text and paragraph can be highlighted with the help of highlight annotations. Ink notes and text notes can be highlighted with the use of text and ink annotations. This can help flag information for later retrieval.Key Difference - PDF vs XPS

What is the difference between PDF and XPS?

Features and Characteristics of PDF and XPS:


PDF: Portable Document Format is abbreviated as PDF.

XPS : XML Paper Specification is abbreviated as XPS.

Developed By:

PDF: PDF is developed by Adobe Systems.

XPS: XPS was developed by Microsoft corporation.


PDF: PDF was first released in 1993.

XPS: XPS was first released in 2006.


PDF: PDF is compressed in LZW format and supports text and images.

XPS: XML can be compressed into the ZIP format.


PDF: PDF can be opened using a web browser as well as Adobe Reader.

XPS: XPS can only be opened using a web browser.


PDF: PDF can be used to edit and view documents.

XPS: XPS comes with a unique feature of annotations that separate it from other document formats.  XPS can be considered to be more advanced than PDF.

PDF vs. XPS Summary

PDF documents can be opened and viewed with a software known as Adobe reader. PDF documents can support two-dimensional as well as three-dimensional images. XPS is a document management software that is used to convert, annotate, sign, or view documents.

Image Courtesy:

“Text-XML” By RRZEicons – Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia

“Pdf by mimooh” By Mimooh – Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia