Microsoft Announces HD Photo
Microsoft Corp. formally announced HD Photo, a new file format for end-to-end digital photography that offers higher image quality, greater preservation of data, and advanced features for today's digital-imaging applications.
This new, next-generation digital image format offers the best solution for digital image editing and storage and unlocks the potential for digital photography on devices, applications and services. Microsoft also announced that it intends to standardize the technology and will be submitting HD Photo to an appropriate standards organization shortly.
HD Photo offers compression with up to twice the efficiency of JPEG, with fewer damaging artifacts, resulting in higher-quality images that are one-half the file size. In addition, HD Photo offers increased image fidelity, preserving the entire original image content and enabling higher-quality exposure and color adjustments in the image. This new format offers the ability to decode only the information needed for any resolution or region, or the option to manipulate the image as compressed data.
"With HD Photo, we're taking a new approach to creating and editing photos that simply isn't available to photographers with today's formats," said Amir Majidimehr, corporate vice president of the Consumer Media Technology Group at Microsoft. "HD Photo fully preserves the original image fidelity with high dynamic range while still allowing for significant improvement in compression size."
In addition, HD Photo offers both lossless and lossy image compression, and can retain the full dynamic range and color gamut data from a camera's sensor. Also, because making adjustments to common color balance and exposure settings won't discard or truncate data as other common bitmap formats typically do, it's easier to "undo" those changes at a later time. As a result, significantly smaller files can be created while still retaining optimum picture quality.
Microsoft also announced the beta release of a set of HD Photo plug-ins for Adobe(R) Photoshop(R) software, developed with the help of Adobe Systems Inc. These plug-ins enable users to both read and write HD Photo files from within Adobe Photoshop software, and include support for high dynamic range pixel formats. The plug-ins support both the CS3 and CS2 versions of Adobe Photoshop software, and will be available for Windows Vista(TM) and Windows(R) XP, as well as Mac OS X (Universal Binary). A beta version of the Windows plug-in is available today for download at the Microsoft(R) Download Center at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads. Microsoft expects to release finished plug-ins, which will be free of charge, in approximately 60 days.
The HD Photo Device Porting Kit is also available for download at the Microsoft Download Center, allowing manufacturers to add HD Photo support in devices and to other platforms.
HD Photo is natively supported in Windows Vista by a Windows Imaging Component (WIC) codec, and can be similarly supported in Windows XP and Windows Server(R) 2003 through a free WIC download. HD Photo is also included in Microsoft .NET Framework 3.0.
With support on popular platforms such as Windows XP, Windows Vista and Mac OS X, HD Photo will allow consumers to easily view, edit and share images without conversion or special applications. The format also allows for flexible metadata handling and supports industry-standard metadata formats.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT") is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.