Back in March I mentioned that Microsoft is trying to standardize it’s HD Photo format as the official successor to the ever so popular JPEG format. Well it’s now looking to become JPEG XR.
Suprisingly it’s still not listed on Microsoft’s Open Specification Promise where Microsoft lists things it won’t sue over. Hopefully they will update that soon. My understanding from what I’ve read is that’s the intent.
It’s a pretty interesting thing going on. Video on the web has improved by leaps and bounds over the years from a tiny grainy video object that took a decade to load, to instantly loading and still improving quality Flash / Windows Media / QuickTime. Photos on the other hand have been using JPEG for pretty much a decade. Most photography buffs don’t seem to fond of JPEG because it can degrade picture quality, but still love services like Flickr.
Will JPEG XR spark a photo revolution by allowing better quality?
A few days ago I mentioned there are some limitations with HD Photo in it’s current state. The limitations are in the legal sense. Specifically they prohibit open source implementations. This obviously hinders adoption as many large organizations that work with graphics rely on open source software (think where we would be without GD or ImageMacick among many others). Bill Crow responded on my blog that it is royalty free in “all cases”. Great news. He then goes on to say:
That’s why we announced we’re committed to standardization. Once standardized, the goal is that the appropriate standards organization would then own the format and would publish a full specification. This would allow developers to create their own implementations independent of working with our source code in the DPK, with the option of releasing their implementation as open source.
Awesome. This does leave the question: why not release the DPK, specifically the encode/decode and push to get it in every popular graphics package. The blog has a new post that states:
Now we’re taking the next big step. Our goal is to turn the format over to an appropriate standards organization. Ideally, this will include the publishing of an open specification, making possible to implement compatible encoders and decoders that are completely independent of Microsoft’s reference source code. This should fully address any concerns that have been raised about the option for open source implementations.
That sounds promising. I guess time will tell. That leaves the door open for a browser like Firefox to eventually support HD Photo should it catch on. Who knows, perhaps we’ll all look at JPEG the way we look at 3½-inch floppy disks.
Microsoft is trying to standardize it’s new HD Photo (aka Windows Media Photo) format. In general the format sounds pretty decent (though I’ve yet to see it and really compare). From the site:
- Multiple color formats for display or print
- Fixed or floating point high dynamic range, wide gamut image encoding
- Lossless or high-quality lossy compression
- Extremely efficient decoding for multiple resolutions and sub-regions
- Minimal overhead for format conversion or transformations during decode
HD Photo delivers a lightweight, high performance algorithm with a small memory footprint that enables practical, in-device encoding and decoding. HD Photo delivers image quality that is comparable to JPEG-2000 and more than twice the quality of JPEG.
Now that does sound pretty good. According to the ComputerWorld article there will be support for Adobe Photoshop CS2 and CS3. So what’s the catch?