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Microsoft: Make our HD Photo format a standard

Microsoft plans to submit its HD Photo image format to a standards body in order to establish a higher-quality replacement for today's ubiquitous JPEG standard. The standardization move makes sense, given Microsoft's ambitions, said InfoTrends analyst Ed Lee: "If Microsoft is looking for wider adoption of the format, it needs to be divorced from Microsoft itself. They're going to have to loosen the strings on it." Microsoft has put years of research into HD Photo and knows it has years more work to create a JPEG alternative, even more for a replacement. The company knows it has to convince partners from every corner of the industry, including camera makers and those who build photo printing kiosks. "We know for it to be successful there has to be whole ecosystem," said Rico Malvar, a Microsoft Research director who helped develop the format.

A broader color gamut is one of the advantages Microsoft touts for HD Photo. ("HD" doesn't actually stand for anything, but the company hopes it will connote the "high definition" advantages of HDTV.) Among other HD Photo features:

  • It can store 16 or 32 bits of data for each color, compared with JPEG's 8 bits, making it easier to discern shadow details or the subtle tonal variations of snow in sunlight.
  • It compresses data twice as efficiently as JPEG, with either twice the quality at a given file size or half the file size at a given quality.
  • It's designed to work well in camera image-processing chips, and to reduce memory requirements, it encodes images chunk by chunk without having to store the complete image at one time.
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News source: News.com
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