And when we're through with JPEG, we'll reinvent the wheel

If anyone can replace the ubiquitous JPEG image specification, I suppose it’s Microsoft. At the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference on Wednesday, the company said that Windows Media Photo, a new image format it announced last year, will be supported in Windows Vista and Windows XP. According to Microsoft, Windows Media Photo offers 24:1 compression that retains far more detail than JPEG or JPEG 2000, fast previews, and images that can be reduced and rotated with no re-encoding. Sounds promising, although Microsoft hasn’t yet disclosed licensing options or discussed compatibility issues. Either of those things could significantly hamper adoption, which will likely be hamstrung anyway. JPEG and .PNG are de facto standards among amature photographers and most professionals use RAW. Will either market really be interested in a new, more compressed format when storage prices are dropping and fast processors are making file size less important?


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  • Gerald Buckmaster

    The question should be: Will either market be interested in transmitting or receiving images faster in our ever-increasing world of wireless networking?

    Do I smell wavelet-compression lawsuits in the wind?

  • tom

    Forget whether or not MS is the purveyor of the new format. Much higher compression levels could indeed be very useful if, say, yo had a 7 megapixel camera and would like to email pictures around without having to bother reduce the quality.

    And, if they have any degree of success getting camera makers to adopt the format, that will greatly assist adoption.

    If not MS, someone should digging into this opportunity.

  • Giggles the Clown

    The Internet and computing in general needs a new graphics format like a fish needs a bicycle.

  • John Faughnan

    It’s probably wavelet based. PNG’s problem is the cruddy support for metadata.

    JPEG 2000 with decent metadata support (Adobe’s standard) would be great progress. This sounds cool, but I can’t believe Microsoft won’t abuse the heck out of their IP.

    Maybe it will move folks off the JP2K dime though. JPEG really does suck.

  • Brant Mills

    IF it offers 24:1 compression without needing to be rasterized or pixelate images this could be a good thing indeed. Imagine image hosting or creative companies and news companies with servers that house massive ammounts of image data for archival purposes and cut the percentage of hard disk real estate by wide margins. This could definitely be a good thing. Especially if it will be supported by video editing and compositing applications – it could in theory speed render times and file sizes for composites including video released to the web. This would be especially great if it even comes close to the crispness of vector art. Sure – the prices of storage dropping is a good thing, but ask anyone who deals with huge numbers of large files on a regular basis and they will tell you that more space is always a good thing. There are places that use jpeg sequences for video output. If it looks better and takes up less space I’m sure many will consider this a good thing.

  • This would be interesting as proposed by Tom. If that is the case, it is going to be practical that way. If for example, MS would push for it on gadgets, maybe it will happen. As for the Internet – well, it might take off soon if mobile devices have the support. After all, people like uploading their images for sharing, etc.

  • “Will either market really be interested in a new, more compressed format when storage prices are dropping and fast processors are making file size less important?”


  • Nick

    Compression is on temporary. As speed and storage keep improving, compression will become unnecessary. Why degrade that pic of you baby girl? The future is lossless data. Not quite yet, but it will happen.

    It is true that young music fans would rather carry a thousand compressed (sucky) songs than a hundred high quality (raw) ones. But sooner or later when the “wow” factor becomes obsolete, people will want quality again.

    Have you ever tried tuning more than one PC within hearing range to the same streaming digital media? The sound sucks! Try tuning more than one radio to same ol’ analog stations and guess what: it works! Digital media still has a lot of work ahead of it and compression is NOT the end-game, it’s just a temporary COMPROMISE.