Microsoft pushes for standardization of HD Photo image file format

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Microsoft pushes for standardization of HD Photo image file format

Redmond (WA) – Microsoft has submitted its HD Photo file format to the JPEG national delegations for approval of standardization. The new file format, which tries to bridge the gap between the high-end RAW and low-end JPEG formats is “tentatively” named JPEG XR.

A closer look at Microsoft’s HD Photo image format …As part of the submission process, Microsoft said that JPEG has sent a new project to its national body members, which would include JPEG XR as the new standard, if the technology is formally approved. JPEG XR would be the second part of a larger scope of work item called JPEG Systems, which is a forum for standardization of systems integration technologies focused on the current and emerging needs of consumer and professional digital photography.

The deadline for the voting process whether JPEG XR will become part of a standardization process is set as early October 2007. The actual finalization and publication of the standard is expected to take up to one year after that. If approved by the JPEG group, Microsoft said that it will grant royalty-free grant for its patents that are required to implement JPEG XR in devices and applications.

In an earlier review of the beta version of the format, we found that HD Photo, previously also known as “Windows Media Photo” is as simple to use as JPEG. Its compression advantages in acceptable image qualities vary and can be marginal when compared to JPEG. However, as digital photo libraries are piling up on client PCs, even marginal compression advantages can become significant.

We found that HD Photo especially shines in high-resolution images with high color depth. Besides the fact that the format can support 32-bit images, which is expected to become an important factor in high dynamic range photography, the file format is vastly superior to TIFF: Comparable image qualities can be achieved with file sizes that are up to two thirds smaller than TIFF (read our brief review here.)