Microsoft opens up HD Photo format

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Microsoft opens up HD Photo format

The Photographic Expert Group(Jpeg) has agreed to consider the submission of Microsoft's file format as an open standard.

The standards body has accepted a first working draft for the proposed 'Jpeg XR' standard. It will move to committee in November and a final draft will be considered in March.

If approved, the format could become an International Standards Organisation (ISO) approved 'draft international standard' by July next year.

As part of the certification process, Microsoft will provide a royalty free licence for the intellectual property, allowing developers of photo editing software, operating systems and device manufacturers to support it free of charge.

Most digital cameras today use the Jpeg image format. But Tom Robertson, Microsoft's general manager for interoperability and standards, claimed that the format is "running up against a wall".

The proposed Jpeg XR standard offers a greater range of colours and brightness levels. A picture taken in a dimly lit room, for instance, will show up as black in the current Jpeg standard. With Jpeg XR, however, a photographer will be able to use photo editing software to make the picture appear.

Jpeg XR will also support a future display that supports a wider range of colours, offers better brightness to darkness ranges and has higher contrast ratios.

Microsoft has said that it was seeking to submit the format as a standard when it was released last March. The move is intended to increase its adoption and appeal.

Robertson also touted that the submission to the Jpeg body underscores Microsoft's commitment to pushing standards that advance the overall industry.

The company itself meanwhile already is applying the HD Photo technology in Windows Vista and applications such as Windows Live Virtual Earth.
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