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Friday, March 09, 2007
Microsoft's HD Photo to Replace JPEG

At the Photo Marketing Association (PMA) 07 International Convention and Trade Show in Las Vegas, Microsoft formally announced HD Photo, a new file format for end-to-end digital photography.

This new digital image format unlocks the potential for digital photography on devices, applications and services. Microsoft also announced that it intends to standardize the technology and will be submitting HD Photo to an appropriate standards organization shortly.

HD Photo offers compression with up to twice the efficiency of JPEG, with fewer damaging artifacts, resulting in higher-quality images that are one-half the file size, Microsoft claims. In addition, HD Photo promises increased image fidelity, preserving the entire original image content and enabling higher-quality exposure and color adjustments in the image. This new format offers the ability to decode only the information needed for any resolution or region, or the option to manipulate the image as compressed data.

In addition, HD Photo offers both lossless and lossy image compression, and can retain the full dynamic range and color gamut data from a camera?s sensor. Also, because making adjustments to common color balance and exposure settings won?t discard or truncate data as other common bitmap formats typically do, it?s easier to "undo" those changes at a later time.

Microsoft also announced the beta release of a set of HD Photo plug-ins for Adobe Photoshop software, developed with the help of Adobe Systems Inc. These plug-ins enable users to both read and write HD Photo files from within Adobe Photoshop software, and include support for high dynamic range pixel formats. The plug-ins support both the CS3 and CS2 versions of Adobe Photoshop software, and will be available for Windows Vista and Windows XP, as well as Mac OS X (Universal Binary). A beta version of the Windows plug-in is available today for download at the Microsoft Download Center at Microsoft expects to release finished plug-ins, which will be free of charge, in approximately 60 days.

The HD Photo Device Porting Kit is also available for download at the Microsoft Download Center, allowing manufacturers to add HD Photo support in devices and to other platforms.

HD Photo is natively supported in Windows Vista by a Windows Imaging Component (WIC) codec, and can be similarly supported in Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 through a free WIC download. HD Photo is also included in Microsoft .NET Framework 3.0.

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