Windows Media Photo Format

May 25, 2006 | Mark Goldstein | Software | 14 Comments |

MicrosoftMicrosoft have unveiled a completely new image file format, called Windows Media Photo (.wmp files), at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference, which will apparently be of better quality at half the size of a comparable JPEG image.

“WMP captures more of the raw information of photos to enable better presentation, editing and compression. Crow said WMP will easily enable 25:1 compression ratios for most uses of digital photography. That compares to a maximum of about 12:1 for consumer JPEG images before images visibly degrade.”

Do we need another file format for photography, or is the JPEG format good enough already? Will the .wmp format be supported by the camera manufacturers, or will it become a forgotten part of Windows Vista?

Website: EETimes - Microsoft beats JPEG with new photo format for Vista



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#1 Graham Stewart

But the JPEG committee have been offering a new JPEG standard, known as JPEG2000, for years. It's much better than the existing standard - but no one seems to support it as JPEG is already so established.

JPEG200 is based on 'wavelet' compression which doesn't suffer from the horrible "JPEG-squares" artifacts and can create much smaller file sizes than the existing format (140:1 for instance).

See the (mockup) examples at:
http://www.luratech.com/products/lurawave/jp2/

Or read about the format from the committee itself (warning: quite dull):
http://www.jpeg.org/jpeg2000/

I doubt Microsoft will gain much acceptance of it's new standard.

12:04 pm - Friday, May 26, 2006

#2 m gottlieb

Here we go again:

"...of it's new standard."

"It's" is a contraction of "it is."

Jpeg is entrenched, and an open standard. Microsoft will want licensing fees, so they can forget it.

I hate to sound pedantic.

4:36 pm - Friday, May 26, 2006

#3 Graham Stewart

Your right of, course my punctuation suck's :cheese:

Is JPEG so entrenched that it is preventing the adoption of JPEG2000, which I believe is also an open standard and subject to the same open licencing as JPEG?

4:49 pm - Friday, May 26, 2006

#4 m gottlieb

One word: inertia.

Toshiba's disc will probably prevail because it is the same size as the current CD. Sony's blu-ray is a bigger diameter.

People like continuity.

4:57 pm - Friday, May 26, 2006

#5 Bruce McL

Another word: Evil. This will not benefit photographers. It will not improve images from cameras in any way. It is an attempt by Microsoft to own your images. It is also an attempt to hurt Adobe by "embracing and extending" the TIFF standard. From the referenced article:
"To preserve compatibility with existing systems, the WMP format uses the existing TIFF "container" including its approach to metadata. The choice of TIFF however limits file sizes to 4 gigabytes, a limit Microsoft will address for high-end users in the future. Microsoft will also release tools to support WMP on existing Windows XP systems."
Microsoft understands how to turn file formats into a monopoly, that's the only reason that Microsoft Office still sells.
As a photographer I think that JPEG, TIFF, and RAW all have their strengths and weaknesses. I'd like to see improvements such as open RAW, but handing Microsoft the keys to the formatting of my files is not an improvement.

8:29 pm - Friday, May 26, 2006

#6 m gottlieb

I am sooo tired of Microsoft. We don't need another format for ANYTHING. We need open standards, like Adobe raw.

Tell Gates to shove it.

Monopolies don't work in the end. I'd like to see Google get together with Linux, and break Windows.

10:00 pm - Friday, May 26, 2006

#7 Eric

Does Adobe have a RAW format? I know they're trying to push DNG as a standard for cameras. Don't know if they're making it an open standard.

5:36 am - Saturday, May 27, 2006

#8 m gottlieb

I was not clear: Adobe's raw format IS .dng, and they have made it an open standard, without licensing fees.

Microsoft can go away. I won't touch it, and I hope no one else does either.

5:48 am - Saturday, May 27, 2006

#9 Pagla

The JPEG2000 format is not exactly free of cost and is being sold at quite a steep price (e.g., $90.00 for a APS plugin) by Luratech.

I doubt this format will gain much acceptance either.

1:21 pm - Saturday, May 27, 2006

#10 James Arnold

JPEG 2000 is not a format, it is a standard and as such JP2 software can be developed by anyone. Luratech as well as several other companies (aware, kakadu, lizardtech?) have developed their own technology and compression software that meets the JPEG2000 standard and therfore creates JP2 files that are readable by software that also supports JPEG2000. They are selling the software they developed to create the files as is there right. There is also free software out there sometimes dependant on the use, read the license on the software.

Most applications that I use already provide free plugins to read JP2 and in many cases write it as well (photoshop, ACDSee,).

In my opinion the open "standard" of JPEG2000 that anyone can develop is a better choice than another proprietary MS "format" written and controlled by one company.

JPG is again a format (albiet one free of licensing issues) not a standard and is very limited and not open to improvement. For starters it doesn't support 16bit imagery, lossless compression, alpha channels, etc etc. I would suspect that JPEG200 has not grown in popularity becuase it does require more processing power, but even now that is probably a neglegable consideration for most photography.

Anyway just thought I would throw that into the soup.

Cheers
James Arnold

6:51 pm - Tuesday, June 6, 2006

#11 John Frederickson

You might want to actually find out a bit about the format before you harp on at Microsoft...

Microsoft are providing the licence FOR FREE and have pledged to continue to do so.

Anything that can improve things should be embraced. There is a real opportunity here to dump the 15 year old and outdated jpg format and get something that supports better encoding, more options and best of all alpha channels.

Frankly I don't care who brings it to market - if they have the power to make it widely accepted then it is great! And for the record it is not a move against Adobe as they are supporting it too.

5:10 am - Friday, March 9, 2007

#12 Graham Stewart

Correction: Microsoft have said that the specification would be available under the "Microsoft Open Specification Promise", but so far it has not materialised.

Also the licence conditions of their "HD Photo Device Porting Kit" explicitly prohibit it from being used software that will be licensed under the "GNU General Public License" - which is how most open-source is licensed.

1:16 pm - Friday, March 9, 2007

#13 Graham Stewart

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HD_Photo#Licensing

1:54 pm - Friday, March 9, 2007

#14 windows user

I just hope Adobe's raw format works.

6:08 pm - Monday, April 9, 2007