Microsoft on Tuesday said an international standards body has agreed to vote on whether to accept the company's new digital-photo file format as a standard, which Microsoft hopes will one day replace the widely used JPEG format as the industry standard for electronic photography and digital imaging.
The Joint Photographic Expert Group has agreed to submit formal balloting of HD Photo to JPEG's national delegations for approval by the fall. The tentative name for the spec is JPEG XR.
Expected to help Microsoft's cause is the fact that the company is making the technology available without charge. "Microsoft's royalty-free commitment will help the JPEG committee foster widespread adoption of the specification and help ensure that it can be implemented by the widest possible audience," JPEG said in a statement.
Microsoft claims the new file format would enable digital photographers and editors to capture and transmit higher quality images at half the size of photos created in today's JPEG standard. The company also claims HD Photo produces fewer unwanted visual artifacts and offers lossless data compression, which means no visual information is lost when the file is shrunk and then recreated to its original size.
The current JPEG standard has been around for 20 years and is used by photographers at major news organizations such as the Associated Press. It's also found in image editing programs, including those built by Adobe Systems, and is supported in digital cameras and printers.
Microsoft has already released HD Photo in the market through its own products. The file format is natively supported by its new Windows Vista operating system and in .Net Framework 3.0. HD Photo is also supported by Apple's Mac OS X operating system.
In trying to drive the technology further into the market, Microsoft has developed a plug-in that adds HD Photo support to Adobe's popular Photoshop editing program.