Tuesday, August 07, 2007Home

Microsoft announces new universal image format

Microsoft has proposed a new image file standard—formerly known as HD Photo format, now called JPEG XR—to the Joint Photographic Expert Group (JPEG). Now awaiting approval, Microsoft has claimed that the new format will capture sensor information with improved fidelity and greater efficiency, so that less pixels are left behind.

From Microsoft’s press announcement:

The ballot deadline for this new project is early October 2007. Finalizing and publishing the completed standard is expected to take up to one year after that. Throughout, Microsoft will be working closely with JPEG to ensure that this new proposed standard serves the needs of the next generation of consumer and professional photographers and delivers the next experience in image display. If approved, Microsoft will offer a royalty free grant for its patents that are required to implement the standard.

This news comes despite ongoing efforts by Adobe to raise support and awareness for its own image format, DNG, which it hopes will replace many proprietary image formats in many different brands of digital cameras. The format originated as a by-product of RAW format, which is sensor data captured in full by a digital camera, unprocessed and unfiltered.

From Underexposed: A blog by Steven Shankland:

Personally, I'd welcome a little competition among powerful companies trying to improve image quality, as long as the world isn't saddled with two competing standards that do the same thing. But although there's definitely some overlap, I suspect the two formats will remain more in separate domains--and not just because Adobe spoke positively about JPEG XR earlier this year, indicating it doesn't feel too threatened by JPEG XR.

In promising better image quality and processing efficency with JPEG-XR, Microsoft seems to have short-term benefits more in mind than Adobe. Adobe's DNG will have to rely on changes in digital camera technology and cooperation from camera-makers to make its presence felt. Only time will tell if Adobe's plan will work out.

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