Metro – Another reinvention of the wheel?

I was just watching the recent WinHEC 2005 Keynote webcast by Bill Gates and others, and one topic that was new to me (I haven’t been following all the early details on Longhorn too closely, so maybe I’ve been missing something) was the mentioning of Metro, an XML based document description language that’s apparently going to be the native spool format in Longhorn.

Interesting idea, but I don’t think that’s very new… anybody remember how the Postscript/Display Postscript combination used to work on the NeXT Computer? Current Mac OS X versions use a printing system that’s based on PDF in a very similar way, and it seems that Microsoft wants to create competition to the PDF format as the most wide-spread platform-independent publishing format as well as Postscript as the most wide-spread document description language, right down to the printer hardware.

I haven’t read the specs yet, but I find it hard to imagine what advantages the end user is supposed to have if yet another so-called standard needs to be adopted, by software developers, end users and hardware manufacturers. Sounds like one of those typical MS features: they always say things like “when you use our software, everything will work much better… as soon as everybody’s using it, that is”. I’d rather hear them say “when you use our software, you’ll be able to integrate with existing standards and mechanisms much more easily, out of the box”. Of course the world needs new standards to evolve, but supporting existing ones should be more important, in my opinion.

Update: I really meant to mention the links to the Metro Print Path FAQ and the Metro Specification.

2 Comments on Metro – Another reinvention of the wheel?

  1. Alex Danvy // May 13, 2005 at 7:01 pm // Reply

    It might be easier to create/modify Metro documents than PDF files. XML is pretty standard now (accessible through any language). PDF is far from easy to manipulate. Don’t you think ?

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  2. Sure, I think so. I wasn’t saying I don’t see opportunities in Metro, and neither that the thing itself is a bad idea. I was rather criticising the way MS is once again ignoring everything that currently exists in favor of a completely new development. This criticism isn’t mainly about the background of the technology itself, but about the consequences this will almost inevitably have: yet another so-called standard that MS keeps a tight hand on.

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