Microsoft vs. JPEG

Microsoft shows off JPEG rival | CNET Well it looks like Microsoft is going to be coming out with a new image format to rival the standard JPG files that digital photographers primarily use today.

This is pretty exciting. Microsoft claims to offer better images with half the size of a JPG.

While the half the size of a JPG is interesting, it’s largely irrelevant in my opinion. Flash memory and hard drive storage cost being what it is these days storing JPG images is not inconvenient.

But better quality is something and this could be meaningful.

I doubt that Microsoft’s format still will be better than the RAW format that I shoot in today and I doubt that you’ll see the top photographers switching to it over RAW, but for the world of amateurs shooting JPG this could be a positive step forward. Too early to say of course (Microsoft says they can’t see supporting this before 2008) but I’m optimistic.

13 Replies to “Microsoft vs. JPEG”

  1. Microsoft is generally bad at making or supporting standard formats. There is a good chance this will be a Windows-only image format.

    Unless they standardize this image format so Mac/Linux/whatever users can use it royalty free, it’s going to be pretty useless. I always thought PNG would be a good format if they added support for EXIF tags. It’s a lossless format and is much smaller than TIFF.

  2. I disagree with your assumption that smaller file sizes are irrelevant. I work for Turner IT where we support and host some of the most trafficked sites on the web (think,, We have filesize limits on our top storie pictures due to bandwidth issues. This means that we are sacrificing quality.

    I look forward to having our producers export images at 100% quality in Photoshop without worrying about filesizes.

  3. MS tend to turn things like this into to a endless game of market share grab, and any statements about quality vs size should be taken a with a whole lot of salt. MS claims there video codecs are beater then anyone and make smaller files sizes etc. Bunch of nonsense, yet they constantly jam their proprietary standards down everyones throat and even try to throttle the consumer markets with making it the only supported file types on things like the 360.

  4. I don’t think Microsoft intends on replacing RAW with this. RAW formats will always be camera-centric, whereas formats like JPEG or this new Microsoft one aim to be usable in all different environments.

    It’s too bad all cameras can’t shoot in RAW mode. Those who know the benefits of shooting in RAW mode will continue to use RAW mode. Those that don’t, either out of lack of necessity, lack of availability or lack of knowledge probably don’t need it. It’s the old, “if you know what it is, you know enough in how to use it” adage.

  5. I seriously doubt that even Microsoft can push a new and proprietary image format into wide acceptance. Especially with the proliferation of devices that have media codecs built in to hardware, all those phones and webpads and set-tops have .jpg built in. Even if MS were to put all their muscle into it, this format would not be a serious contender for at least 3 years.

  6. (Wi)ndows (M)edia (P)hoto(s).


    Then, in 24 months, (once all the bugs are worked out) we’ll get “WiMPs 2.0; Bigger, Badder, WiMP-ier”.

  7. I think the reporters mix JPEG and JPEG2000 in an usual misleading way. Compared to JPEG, WindowsMediaPhoto may be smaller in size, but definitely not compared to JPEG2000 since JPEG2000 uses the L.O.D. wavelet algorithms that WindowsMediaPhoto directly compares to.

    It reminds me Microsoft made an acquisition of a small JPEG2000-related startup back in 2004 or so. Can’t remember the name. I wouldn’t be surprised that those guys are behind this move.

  8. Actually, it was a third-party device maker that said they can’t see supporting it before 2008 (a cell phone maker, if I’m not mistaken – they update chipsets on a long schedule). Microsoft will likely have support when Vista launches. But the real key is if Adobe will support it. If they do, it’s a viable format. If not, they’re sunk.

    I think having better quality in less size is important, even for pros. Note that the new format supports a lossless mode, and includes support for high dynamic range images. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you could use a LOSSLESS compressed HDR format in 1/4 the size of your RAW. Would you?

    Storage space isn’t the issue. You’re right – that’s growing exponentially. The issue is transfer speed, which affects shot speed. If you could shoot twice as fast, or take bursts of up to four times as many photos in burst mode, would that be worth it?

    I think so.

    It’s a technology worth wathcing.

  9. Why is this better than the jp2 (jpeg2000) file format? Besides the hype that is?

    Sounds like warmed over technology to me. Probably MS will just put more DRM into it.

  10. Yea probably include some DRM, which isnt such a bad thing. It would allow companies to protect images they own. And would help open up an image market.

  11. Caught T. Hawks comment over on a link from CNet and had to come over, sounded completely brain dead at first , so I figured I was missing something when he was talking about JPG and the new format replacing RAW. Turns out to just be point of view. RAW format is uncompressed, and you lose no quality at all, but, it’s far to large to be used in most data related venues, once you get to the point where you want to send that 5 meg RAW image somewhere in email or publish it on the web, you’re going to need to start looking at how you can bring that file size down to a more managable level while losing as little as possible. JPG might bring a 5 meg uncompressed TIFF/RAW file down to say 128k without to much loss (this is wildly speculative), MS is saying they can do the same quality or better at 64k. Will be interesting to see how it pans out.

  12. shadow- sounds like you really are missing something if you’re describing raw in the same terms as tiff. Raw really means RAW-information that has to be processed. You can’t simply send a raw file to someone and expect them to read it without a decoder so the advantage of sending ‘better’ raw data over smaller file size. There’s not a real comparison there.

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