Monday, May 29, 2006

Will Windows Media Photo outsmart JPEG?

Microsoft has announced a new still image format called Windows Media Photo (with a WDP file extension). According to their white paper this new format offers compression ratios close to JPEG-2000 but with the computational requirements of JPEG (smaller files with the same image quality). The use of new algorithms are also claimed to reduce the visibility of 'objectionable spatial artifacts' (those mosquito JPEG artifacts). Windows Media Photo supports a wide range of image formats including both fixed and floating point numerical representations (think wide dynamic range), various color spaces, metadata (including EXIF) and even transparency. This new format will be supported in Windows Vista when it arrives and will be made available for Windows XP, there has been no word yet of support for the format in any hardware devices.

According to Microsoft, Windows Media Photo is a new file format for continuous-tone still images that surpasses the limitations of existing image formats. Windows Media Photo supports a wide range of features including:

  • Multiple color formats for display or print

  • Fixed or floating point, high-dynamic-range image encoding

  • Lossless or high-quality lossy compression

  • Extremely efficient decoding for multiple resolutions and sub-regions

  • Minimal overhead for format conversion or transformations during decoding

Windows Media Photo delivers a lightweight, high-performance algorithm with a small memory footprint that enables practical, in-device encoding and decoding. Article
Windows Media Photo
Windows Media Photo Specification


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