Microsoft’s JPEG Killer?

Microsoft’s new image format is poised to compete with JPEG. Windows Media Photo was announced yesterday at WinHEC 2006, along with a comparison that favored WMP over JPEG and JPEG 2000 at 24:1 compression. With any luck, WMP will succeed where JPEG 2000 failed. WM Photo support will be included in Windows Vista, and as an upgrade to Windows XP.

JPEG is the de-facto standard for continuous images, where lossy compression is acceptable, but the format’s artifacts and 8×8 blocking quickly become visible at higher compression levels. Microsoft claims that WM Photo will offer JPEG 2000 image quality with JPEG performance. While no Windows Media Photo examples are currently available, see the below comparison between a 13KB JPEG and a 13KB JPEG 2000. Notice the JPEG’s more prominent artifacts, particularly on edges and contiguous areas:

[JPEG / JPEG 2000 Comparison]

Despite JPEG 2000’s superior compression, it was never widely adopted. Microsoft’s ubiquitous platform may help garner software and hardware support for their format. See also more comparisons between JPEG 2000 and JPEG blocking and artifacts.

While Windows Media Photo will likely surpass the quality of both JPEG and JPEG 2000, a news.com article mentions that licensing remains a concern. In this age of patent lawsuits, anything short of an air-tight license can make any format a hard sell for both hardware and software providers. Microsoft’s legal resources might make the WM Photo attractive in this regard as well. Hopefully the license will allow freeware to safely use the format as well.

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3 Responses to “Microsoft’s JPEG Killer?”

  1. […] The same day I wrote about Microsoft’s new image format WMP, Windows Media Photo (which will probably be confused with Windows Media player by a great many), Nathan also wrote it on his blog. […]

  2. Dean says:

    I’d love to be able to call another one of Microsoft’s products “WiMP”. 😉

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    Microsoft’s JPEG Killer? « Nathan's Blog

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