Thursday, March 08, 2007

HD Photo - can anyone trust Microsoft?

Microsoft may submit "HD Photo" to a standards body...
HD Photo: Microsoft's next standard?

Last November, Microsoft renamed its JPEG competitor from Windows Media Photo to HD Photo... Ars has learned that the company plans to announce that it will begin seeking standardization for the HD Photo format, essentially bringing it one step closer to becoming the next JPEG.

HD Photo's feature set includes fixed or floating point high dynamic range, wide gamut image encoding; more efficient compression compared to JPEG; lossless or high-quality lossy compression; the ability to store 16 or 32 bits of data per color; and a design intended for use by digital cameras. HD Photo also supports CMYK, RGB, and monochrome as well as embedded ICC color profiles.

I've waited years for JPEG2000 to come to widespread use, but fears of patent vulnerabilities on the underlying math have kept it mostly in the labs. (Adobe Acrobat can use it for image compression, but it's an almost-secret option.)

Microsoft is, needless to say, tough enough and rich enough to fight the patent battles. So this is all about how they handle the patents, and the risks of future patents. Will they, for example, contractually commit themselves not to strike a side-deal with a future patent claimant that would leave competitors out to roast?

If Adobe and/or Apple support HD Photo we'll have a real alternative to JPEG. It's way past time to retire that old warhorse. I'd love to have something like HD Photo as a storage format for my images.

No comments: