Microsoft’s HD Photo Proposed for JPEG XR

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Back in March of this year, Microsoft unveiled HD Photo, a new high-end image format which promised higher image quality and better compression than current image standards, while adding features explicitly designed to support future digital cameras and image editing programs.

Today, Microsoft announced that it has formally offered HD Photo for consideration as an international standard by JPEG, the Joint Photographic Experts Group. If adopted as part of a larger effort called JPEG Systems, HD Photo would be known as “JPEG XR.” The idea behind standardizing on the format is to give makers of digital cameras, printers, and displays—as well as software developers—both a single, consistent format to support, but also to ensure interoperability between products which support JPEG XR. And most importantly, if HD Photo is approved as a standard, Microsoft will offer royalty-free access to its patents which are required to implement HD Photo.

“Microsoft is very pleased that the JPEG working group is considering HD Photo as a new standard, and we are committed to working cooperatively with JPEG and its affiliated standards organizations to ensure that this file format serves the needs of the next generation of consumer and professional photographers,” said Tom Robertson, general manager of Interoperability and Standards at Microsoft, in a release.

“JPEG is proving its vitality by integrating new technologies like the proposed new work item JPEG XR into the range of existing JPEG family of standards (JPEG 2000 included) and continuing to provide further options and solutions for modern networked imaging through the proposed new work item, JPEG Systems”, said Dr. Daniel Lee the convener of JPEG, and General Manager of the eBay China Development Center, in a statement.

Formal balloting for is being submitted to the JPEG national delegations for approval, with an October 2007 deadline. If approved, completing and publishing the final JPEG XR standard is expected to take about another year.

Many JPEG members may be nervous to consider a Microsoft technology as a standard—Microsoft has recently submitted work to standards organizations as apparent end-runs around competing technologies, and the company does not have a stellar track record in supporting or adopting open standards in its own products. However, the company’s commitment to offer JPEG XR implementers royalty-free access to relevant Microsoft patents may ease the pain, and Microsoft has been making increasingly friendly overtures towards open systems developers and technologies.

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