Microsoft has unveiled a new file format for end-to-end digital photography, called HD Photo, which offers better image quality, better preservation of data, and advanced features for digital-imaging applications.

The company said this new next-generation digital image format provides the best solution for digital image editing and storage, and unleashes potential for digital photography on devices, applications, and services.

Microsoft announced it intends to standardize the technology, and will be submitting HD Photo to an appropriate standards organization shortly.

Talking about it, Amir Majidimehr, Corporate Vice President of Consumer Media Technology Group, Microsoft, said, "With HD Photo, we are taking a new approach to creating and editing photos that simply isn't available to photographers with today's formats.









HD Photo fully preserves the original image fidelity with high dynamic range, while allowing for significant improvement in compression size."

HD Photo offers compression with up to twice the efficiency of JPEG, with fewer damaging artifacts, resulting in higher-quality images that are one-half the file size.

It also gives increased image fidelity, preserving the entire original image content, and enabling higher-quality exposure and color adjustments in the image.

Microsoft has also announced the beta release of a set of HD Photo plug-ins for Adobe Photoshop software, developed with the help of Adobe Systems.
These plug-ins enable users to both read and write HD Photo files from within Adobe Photoshop software, and include support for high dynamic range pixel formats.

The plug-ins support both CS3 and CS2 versions of Adobe Photoshop software, and will be available for Windows Vista and Windows XP, as well as Mac OS X (Universal Binary).

A beta version of the Windows plug-in is now available for download at the Microsoft Download Center at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads. And Microsoft expects to release finished plug-ins, which will be free of charge, in approximately 60 days time.

Meanwhile, HD Photo is supported in Windows Vista by a Windows Imaging Component (WIC) codec, and can be similarly supported in Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 through a free WIC download. HD Photo is also included in Microsoft .NET Framework 3.0.