Microsoft is looking to supplant the ubiquitous JPEG with an image format of its own--and it's hoping the debut of Windows Vista will help do the job.
In 2006, Microsoft began promoting its own image standard, formerly called Windows Media Photo but renamed HD Photo in November. The company makes no bones about its ambitions: "Our ultimate goal is that it does become the de facto standard people are using for digital photos," said Josh Weisberg, Microsoft's director of digital imaging evangelism.
"HD" doesn't actually stand for "high definition," but it's supposed to connote the better image quality that comes with HD TV. Rico Malvar, a Microsoft Research director who helped develop the format, said that compared with JPEG, HD Photo preserves more subtle details, offers richer colors and takes up half the storage space at the same image quality.
It is tough to get new image formats to catch on, much less to replace prevailing standards, but Microsoft has two strong forces on its side.