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MS Proposes JPEG Alternative 633

Posted by Zonk
from the standard-was-getting-stale dept.
automatix writes "Microsoft's new competitor to the omnipresent JPEG format has been shown at WinHEC and is discussed on CNET. The Windows Media Photo format has many promises associated with it. The program manager is claiming 'We can do it in half the size of a JPEG file.'. While 'the philosophy has been that licensing should not be a restriction', it is interesting that the specification requires a click-through agreement to even read it."
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MS Proposes JPEG Alternative

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  • Ummmm why? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BWJones (18351) * on Thursday May 25, 2006 @08:44AM (#15400585) Homepage Journal
    So, my question is fundamentally..........WHY? Other than to simply start solidifying platform specific requirements for websites and other such nonsense, i see no compelling reason why we should even give this a second glance. Besides, Microsoft does know that compression algorithms already present in JPEG can go further than they typically do resulting in smaller, yet more distorted images just like their "Microsoft format" JPEG, although I will allow that some of their approach is a bit more flexible than the current JPEG standard.

    But the fundamental issue is that if Microsoft was being truly open and supportive of commonly used standards, this compression format would not require any click through agreement whatsoever to implement and would not require Windows Media Photo.

    Steven Wells, quoted in the article as saying "Licensing can kill this" is absolutely correct.

    • Re:Ummmm why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Thursday May 25, 2006 @08:46AM (#15400592) Homepage Journal
      So, my question is fundamentally..........WHY?

      DRM.

      (Oh, and expect PNG support in IE7 to be downgraded)
      • Re:Ummmm why? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nagora (177841)
        expect PNG support in IE7 to be downgraded

        It's hard to see how even MS's third-rate programmers could make the PNG support worse than it is in IE6.

        TEE

      • Re:Ummmm why? (Score:5, Informative)

        by virtualchoirboy (717310) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @09:30AM (#15400928)
        Or maybe it's because Forgent Networks filed a lawsuit against MS and Apple and about 40 other companies over the JPEG compression algorithms. If this standard gets adopted and popular, MS can drop JPEG entirely and pay penalties, but no licensing fees while earning licensing fees in return.

        I only did one Google search, but easily came up with this [macnn.com] old article from last October. I haven't really followed the case, but it's one reason why MS may have done this.

        • Re:Ummmm why? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Bastian (66383)
          They can try, but in the best case, I bet it would work about as well as when everyone tried it with GIF. Of course, that would require Microsoft's replacement to be an open standard, which it doesn't appear to be.
        • Re:Ummmm why? (Score:3, Informative)

          Well, according to NE asia's may edition, the USPTO is going reexamine forgent's patent [nikkeibp.com] (at the behest of The public patent foundation [pubpat.org]. But that's really kind of besides the point 'cause all of MS's products are going to come under patent attacks.

          There's just too many software patents out there (and too many broad ones) for MS to work their way around all of them, forgent will just buy up some company with a patent on entropy encoding & turn around & sue MS.

          If jpeg patents are MS's fear, a new ima
        • Re:Ummmm why? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by pyite (140350) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @10:56AM (#15401683)
          It's so silly. The only one who should be able to file suit is Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier. After all, the JPEG standard is a DCT is a DFT.
      • (Oh, and expect PNG support in IE7 to be downgraded)

        Actually, this explains why PNG has been crippled for so very long in IE. They didn't want PNG to gain a foothold before they could introduce their unwanted Microsoft version.

        I don't know what Microsoft is thinking. Their own image format? That's the last thing they should be introducing right now. This company is full of lunatics.
    • Re:Ummmm why? (Score:4, Informative)

      by blane.bramble (133160) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @08:48AM (#15400608) Homepage
      Well, I clicked the "I do not agree" button, and it still takes you through to the details...
      • by The Cisco Kid (31490) * on Thursday May 25, 2006 @09:19AM (#15400836)
        If you click the 'I agree' it takes you to download some file that ends in ".DOC" - since I couldnt find any specifications for *that* file, I wasnt able to read them.
      • by abb3w (696381) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @11:11AM (#15401815) Journal
        If you click on the "I do not accept this agreement." button, it submits the value "I do not accept this agreement.", and you get taken to http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/xps/default.mspx? [microsoft.com], with some generic marketroid babble about how their new spec Whitens teeth, cures BO, and will put a chicken in every pot and pot in every chick.

        If you click on the "I accept this agreement and want to download the Windows Media Photo Specification" button, it submits "I accept this agreement and want to download the Windows Media Photo Specification", and should take you to http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/xps/wmphotodwn.mspx? [microsoft.com]. However, I didn't verify that.

        Instead, I chose to look at the HTML, and manually submitted my own prefered value via manually entering the URL: http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/xps/wmphotodwn.mspx? I_Reject_The_Agreement_Terms_and_Suspect_Bill_Gate s_Blows_Goats [microsoft.com]. I also got taken to the download page. This page contains the notice "By installing, copying, or otherwise using the software, you agree to be bound by the terms of the license agreement [microsoft.com].", and a download link to the actual specification document at http://download.microsoft.com/download/1/6/a/16acc 601-1b7a-42ad-8d4e-4f0aa156ec3e/WMPhotoSpec_v09.do c [microsoft.com]....

        Oops.

        Now, while I Am Not A Lawyer, I submitted my rejection of their license terms, so I'd argue in court I shouldn't be bound by them; and since this is a specification, and not itself software, I would also argue that the notice on the page I reached is moot. I suppose the case could be made that since Word macros are a turing-complete programming language, the word document is software, so I thought I'd look through using "less" to be on the safe side. Lo and behold, there is another license embedded:

        "READ THIS! THIS IS A LEGAL AGREEMENT BETWEEN MICROSOFT CORPORATION ("MICROSOFT") AND THE RECIPIENT OF THE ABOVE REFERENCED MATERIALS, WHETHER AN INDIVIDUAL OR AN ENTITY ("YOU"). IF YOU HAVE ACCESSED THIS AGREEMENT IN THE PROCESS OF DOWNLOADING THESE MATERIALS ("MATERIALS") FROM A MICROSOFT WEB SITE, BY CLICKING "I ACCEPT", DOWNLOADING, USING OR PROVIDING FEEDBACK ON THE MATERIALS, YOU AGREE TO THESE TERMS. IF THIS AGREEMENT IS ATTACHED TO MATERIALS, BY ACCESSING, USING OR PROVIDING FEEDBACK ON THE ATTACHED MATERIALS, YOU AGREE TO THESE TERMS. IF YOU DO NOT AGREE TO THESE TERMS, YOU ARE NOT AUTHORIZED TO ACCESS, DOWNLOAD, USE OR REVIEW THE MATERIALS."

        ...followed by a bit more legalese, including that you're not allowed to remove the legalese and redistribute. This "license" strikes me as dangerously like a "license to read", which I'm sure various civil libertarian groups could have lots of fun with. I'd be amused to hear the opinon on a Real Lawyer (TM) as to how binding that would be. Anyone have Larry Lessig's phone number?

        Of course, if someone at a unix command prompt incanted something clever (say, curl -o Bill_Blows_Goats.txt -C 8261 http://download.microsoft.com/download/1/6/a/16acc 601-1b7a-42ad-8d4e-4f0aa156ec3e/WMPhotoSpec_v09.do c [microsoft.com] — and don't forget to remove the Slashdot inserted spaces) the Microsoft server would only give them the meaty parts (albeit in a form even OpenOffice would probably gag on), and omit the license. I'd be amused to hear the opinion of a Real Lawyer as to how binding the agreement co

        • Hey, I'm not a lawyer, but I am in law school. As a rule of thumb, you should remember that laws aren't evaluated by computers -- they're evaluated by humans. Especially in contract law, which is all about equity, the judge is going to do whatever he thinks is common sense, with an eye towards making the market work.

          So, you know it's a loophole, Microsoft knows it's a loophole -- I bet the judge will know too, and shoot it down. I don't really know the answer, but I suspect that you would stand up and say,
    • Re:Ummmm why? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Epistax (544591) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {xatsipe}> on Thursday May 25, 2006 @08:56AM (#15400659) Journal
      Dude just do a subband contrast threshold analysis on the image and you can often find that you can compress using the DWT (discrete wavelet transform) (JPEG2000) with ratios like 4:1 or better while still having a visually lossless compression. As long as the conrasts in the distortions in the various subbands are below the contrasts in the image data itself (in those subbands), the image is pretty much visually lossless.

      Like, duh.
      • Re:Ummmm why? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Epistax (544591) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {xatsipe}> on Thursday May 25, 2006 @09:23AM (#15400874) Journal
        Ok fine no one gets it. A banddand is a range of frequencies you will find in an image. As it turns out, we don't respond to error in an image by the image itself, but by the frequency that the error in the image disrupts. We're worse at seeing disruptions in the high and low range of frequencies, and better in the midrange. Somewhat ironically that means we can take advantage of the high and low and compress more inside those frequency ranges. A DWT or DCT wil give you component pieces for various frequencies which you can simply or delete to form the compression (DCT is JPEG, DWT is JPEG2000). Remember the square blocks in JPEG compression? That's from the DCT. The DWT is more circular so you'll never see square blocking with JPEG2000.

        If anyone is interested and wants some not-so-light reading, check out http://foulard.ece.cornell.edu/publications/chandl er_5749_40.pdf [cornell.edu]
        It'd be awesome if someone made a compressor for regular images using this technique.
    • Re:Ummmm why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Mr_Silver (213637) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @09:38AM (#15400985)
      So, my question is fundamentally..........WHY?

      Why not?

      • If we'd all said that GIF was good enough, PNG wouldn't have happened.
      • If we'd all said that ZIP was good enough, RAR and 7z wouldn't have happened.
      • If we'd all said that WAV was good enough, MP3 wouldn't have happened.
      • If we'd all said that MP3 was good enough, AAC wouldn't have happened.
      • ...and on...and on...and on...

      There is nothing intrinsically wrong with proposing another file format. The current formats we have now or in the future are never going to be good enough and there will always be room for improvement.

      Having said all that, I agree with the parent comment in the fact that licencing will make or break this format and the click-through agreement doesn't bode well.

    • Re:Ummmm why? (Score:4, Informative)

      by ajs (35943) <ajs@@@ajs...com> on Thursday May 25, 2006 @11:50AM (#15402175) Homepage Journal
      To quote MS in answer to your question:

      Objectives for Introducing a New Still Image Format

      Today's file formats for continuous tone images present many limitations in maintaining the highest image quality or delivering the most optimal system performance. Windows Media(TM) Photo was designed to remove these limitations. The design objectives include:
      • High performance, embedded system friendly compression
        • Small memory footprint
        • Simple, integer-only operations (no divides)

      • Industry-leading compression quality
      • Lossless or lossy compression using the same algorithm
      • Support a very wide range of pixel formats:
        • Monochrome, RGB, CMYK or n-Channel image representation
        • 8 or 16-bit unsigned integer
        • 16 or 32-bit signed integer
        • 16 or 32-bit floating point
        • Several packed bit formats
          • 1bpc monochrome
          • 5 or 10bpc RGB
          • RGBE Radiance

      • Simple, extensible TIFF-like container structure
      • Planar or interleaved alpha channel
      • Embedded ICC Profile
      • EXIF and XMP metadata

      Windows Media(TM) Photo is the only format that offers high dynamic range image encoding, lossless or lossy compression, multiple color formats, and performance that enables practical in-device implementation.

  • Big claims indeed! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ravee (201020) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @08:47AM (#15400595) Homepage Journal
    All the exciting features apart, will Microsoft release the file format as an open standard ? That is the big question. Any new file format is most welcome as long as they are open and not controlled by propritery licences.
    • "Any new file format is most welcome as long as they are open and not controlled by propritery licences."

      yes, that's why gif, flash, pdf, and real audio aren't popular.
      • by The Cisco Kid (31490) * on Thursday May 25, 2006 @09:09AM (#15400770)
        GIF got popular because everyone *thought* it was free for a long time before Unisys unearthed their submarine.

        Flash and Real Audio are crap.

        The PDF format is completely open and documented, and you arent required to agree to any licenses to use it or to write software that reads or writes it (And in fact there is quite a bit of software that does just that - you could go an entire life using PDF *without* using any software from Adobe)
    • Like all of you, I see no need for this format.

      However, JPG isn't an open standard, is it? Isn't it controlled by proprietary licenses as well?
      • Re:Is JPG open? (Score:3, Informative)

        by Iphtashu Fitz (263795)
        However, JPG isn't an open standard, is it? Isn't it controlled by proprietary licenses as well?

        JPEG [wikipedia.org] is a standard, created by the Joint Photographic Experts Group. The problem with it is that it's entirely lossy. It's great for final images but any time you edit an image you'll lose more and more of the detail.

        PNG [wikipedia.org] is a newer open standard that was created in part to address the issue of loss. Prior to PNG many people used the GIF format, which is losless as well, but GIF has licensing/patent issues. M
    • Was there ever a single open, documented standard from Microsoft, even?

      RTF seems to be open, but is not really documented, from what I know (or am I wrong here?). Any other candidates?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    If they're offering it as an alternative, why? If they're offering it as a replacement, we already have JPEG2000 thanks. I guess they've given up all pretense of caring and now are going all out for a file-formats landgrab in an effort to shore up their userbase before the shit hits the fan.

    Anyway, shouldn't they be concentrating on finishing Vista?
  • by boxlight (928484) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @08:47AM (#15400600)
    My first reaction is:

    GIF, JPG, and PNG do everything I need -- why a new image format?

    My second reaction is:

    Ok, I'm innovative, so maybe there is a good reason for a new image format. Maybe I'll read more. But then I re-read it's from Microsoft and it's got called Windows in it's name, and I think I've got enough MS and Win in my life -- I really don't want more.

    Conclusion: No thanks.

    boxlight
    • GIF, JPG, and PNG do everything I need -- why a new image format?

      Well, we were supposed to migrate to JPEG2000 a few years ago. That hasn't happened yet, for some reason. Is there even a free libjpeg-like C library for it?

      *digs around in /var/lib/dpkg/*

      Oh yes. libjasper. But the only major software which depends on it seems to be ImageMagick.


    • My first reaction is:

      GIF, JPG, and PNG do everything I need -- why a new image format?


      There are patents on certain parts of JPEG. Including the ones everyone uses, where the claim is highly disputed, by Microsoft and others are already paying licensing fees.


      My second reaction is:

      Ok, I'm innovative, so maybe there is a good reason for a new image format. Maybe I'll read more. But then I re-read it's from Microsoft and it's got called Windows in it's name, and I think I've got enough MS and Win in my life --
      • by Alan (347) <`gro.seifu' `ta' `xeretcra'> on Thursday May 25, 2006 @09:18AM (#15400832) Homepage
        The thing is, their browser doesn't even support PNG properly yet (even ie7 I believe), so why would I believe that a) they could support this properly or b) everyone else would.

        My other reaction is regarding the photography side of it. Professional photographers aren't going to stop using tiff/raw formats anytime soon, and non-pros are happy enough with jpg because they don't know or care about the format, and really just want something they can get at easily and share/print easily.

        Oh, and I don't trust MS not to mess up a potentially good format (if it is that) with licensing issues or other such trickery.
    • Lossy format with alpha channel?
      Better image quality for lossy format?
      Better compression for lossless format?
      More than 32bit colour depth?
      Layers?

      There's lots of reasons for new formats.
    • Conclusion: No thanks.

      Yeah, until your relatives start emailing you .wpd pics 'cause they're using Vista & it says "do you want me to prepare the pictues on this device for email?" when they plug in their digital camera.

      I note in the license agreement that:

      Agreement does not give You rights under any Microsoft patents.

      So you can download the spec to comment on it or to:

      as a reference to assist You in planning and designing Your product, service or technology ("Product") to interface with a Microsoft pr

  • Obvious statement (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sane? (179855) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @08:49AM (#15400616)
    Unless its a free open and non licenced standard with no potential patent problems that can be free implemented by all - its a dead duck.

    Since the above is about as likely as duck being joined by a flying pig...

    ...Next.

    • Or I would do if I understood what it meant. Is somebody making allegations about me and ducks? Besides, nothing promoted by Microsoft is a dead duck, it is just resting while they spend enough money on it to achieve critical mass.
  • Another Debate (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@@@gmail...com> on Thursday May 25, 2006 @08:50AM (#15400619) Journal
    I think the editors should have entitled this one "Microsoft Proposes New Lawsuit Subject" instead of "Microsoft Proposes JPEG Alternative." I kid, I kid.

    But seriously, is anyone else smelling that special scent of Microsoft imperialism where their current markets aren't satiating their need to dominate? I mean, they used to make only operating systems (which took them a while to perfect) and then they made Office (which took them a while to perfect) and then they made the Xbox and now they want us to use a new photo format?

    I don't mind my JPEGs taking up 2 ~ 3MB each, in fact I prefer PNG [wikipedia.org] which are small and widely supported. Granted, they're not half the size of a JPEG but--you know what?--PNG doesn't have a lawsuit history like JPEG [wired.com] & GIF [gnu.org] have.

    PNG is only lossless compression so I suppose it's only natural to switch to a file format that can be either lossless or lossy & will adequately adjust performance of the 'decoding' of the file if you select lossy. After reading the articles linked in the story, it sounds like Microsoft did a good job in the algorithm for this one ... now if they release it as free to use, it might take hold. But I'm not worried about switching formats anytime soon, and to quote Steve Ballmer:
    The only thing we have a problem with is when the government funds open-source work. Government funding should be for work that is available to everybody. Open source is not available to commercial companies. The way the license is written, if you use any open-source software, you have to make the rest of your software open source. If the government wants to put something in the public domain, it should. Linux is not in the public domain. Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches. That's the way that the license works.
    Hard to buy that the company would support anything open for free use after hearing that from its CEO.
    • Re:Another Debate (Score:3, Informative)

      by The Cisco Kid (31490) *
      Not arguing with you, just further debunking some of the MS spew you quoted.

      "Government funding should be for work that is available to everybody."

      Even this is MS classic twisting of words.

      Open Source work *is* available to everybody. It is so available that no one (commercial company or not) is allowed to take it and lock it up into something that is NOT available to everybody.

      "The way the license is written, if you use any open-source software, you have to make the rest of your software open source."

      You c
    • Re:Another Debate (Score:3, Informative)

      by MasterC (70492)
      PNG is only lossless compression so I suppose it's only natural to switch to a file format that can be either lossless or lossy...

      You do realize that JPEG can be lossless, right? Just completely skip the quantization step (or, equivalently, use a quantization matrix of ones) and you've got lossless. It's all in the Q matrix.
    • Re:Another Debate (Score:4, Informative)

      by Evil Grinn (223934) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @10:16AM (#15401298)
      I mean, they used to make only operating systems (which took them a while to perfect)

      Microsoft never made only operating systems. Go learn about BASIC.
    • Re:Another Debate (Score:3, Informative)

      by dominator (61418)
      *) Your 2-3MB JPEG photos will end up being not-so-small 20MB PNGs if you decoded them to RGBA and re-compressed them.

      *) PNGs are nice and work a lot of places, but things like their alpha channel aren't properly supported on Windows, meaning that they don't work properly eveywhere.

      *) All of GIF's patents have expired by now, or were held by IBM, never enforced, and are due to expire in ~2 months. Its lawsuit history is largely irrelevant now, except as historical anectdote. You should feel free to evaluate
  • Even a better one (Score:2, Insightful)

    by canuck57 (662392)
    PNG - No royalties (ever), no click thru, open source, available to all, proven, lossless and no pattent or copyright that will cause issues.
  • it exists already (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gralem (45862) * on Thursday May 25, 2006 @08:51AM (#15400632)
    Isn't there already an alternative called PNG? And doesn't it have existing support? Who cares about 1/2 the file size w/ 4GB flash memory cards available all over the place? It definitely sounds like MS is pointing out false arguments to have an MS-licensed image format that they can control. It sounds very dangerous to me. If it was a RAW-like format at half the size, or something that addresses modern image issues, it would be different.
  • Embrace and Extend (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jon Luckey (7563) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @08:53AM (#15400643)
    And then MS Frontpage will begin importing pictures as default to the new format when making web pages, and suddenly people will need IE to fully see the site. Competing browsers will not be licensed to render the new DRMed format.

    We've been down similar roads before (ActiveX, WMV etc)

    No thanks.

  • .WMP - Although "Windows Media Photo" would have been more straight-forward than "Windows Digital Photo" (or whatever), can you imagine how much fun the punsters would have with that....

    If they can keep from killing it with DRM and licensing, I for one would love to have a photo format where the quality doesn't degrade as much as JPEG does at high compression.

  • Back to basics... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 25, 2006 @08:55AM (#15400656)
    Ofcourse this is a biased comment but after reading stories like these one has to wonder if MS doesn't change its priorities and if so; for what reason. When it comes to doing "good for the masses" MS is at an absolute bottom of the list, all they're doing is for their own profit, thats also what made them into the company they are today. The only real innovation MS has done is IMO the userinterface. That's an absolute given, they know how to distribute a desktop environment which can also be used by computer newbies.

    MS has become quite big by raping standards. They're basicly picking up a product, pay for it if they have to, and start to reverse-engineer it (or something like that) and eventually come up with an own variant, thus hoping to push the original competitor out of the market (and they succeeded with that quite a couple of times, just check the history). Naturally we don't have open standards, thus tieing even more people to their products.

    So my biased conclusion? Vista is going to pieces right now, the development costs are becoming staggering and new money is needed. But with big competitors like Google and Sun (to name my 2 favorites) the market has become hard. What to do? Once again copy a famous (or widely common) standard, promise to make it "bigger, better and faster" and tie the copy to your own product line. Most of the media will call it better and smoother (but they again; they'd do that with anything new) and the circus can start all over again.

    One has to wonder how long MS can manage to play this game.
  • Why? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by zaguar (881743) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @08:58AM (#15400667)
    What's the point?

    The dominant image formats that we have are just fine: JPEG, GIF and PNG. Each one has its specific use (JPEG for photos, GIF for 8-bit or animated images, and PNG for alpha or lossless images.)

    Currently, I can't think of anything new that this WMP (wimp?) format can do. Unless they can pack all this into ONE format:

    1) Compression without introducing artifacts.
    2) Accurate color, contrast and brightness.
    3) Animation.
    4) Alpha channel.

    If they can squeeze that into one format, we wouldn't need 3 different formats anymore.

    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Informative)

      by damiam (409504) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @09:07AM (#15400749)
      MNG does all of those, IIRC.
      • Re:Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Jesus_666 (702802)
        It's also supported by about three programs. Okay, I'm exaggerating, but browser support for the format is abysmal: IE doesn't do it natively, Opera doesn't do it natively, the Mozilla team dropped support with Mozilla 1.5 (and all later browsers)... KHTML is pretty much the only engine out there that doesn't require a plugin to play MNG, putting MNG in the same league as Ogg Vorbis, SMIL and properly used XHTML 1.1.

        I'd really like MNG to become a widely-used standard, but I doubt that will happen. People
  • It is TIFF hijacked (Score:5, Informative)

    by Maljin Jolt (746064) * on Thursday May 25, 2006 @08:58AM (#15400675) Journal
    Reading all of 31 pages of the document makes me understand that it is just an attempt to hijack tiff an bend it with MS patented pixel codec to become incompatible with existing tiff technology. Salted with Adobe XMP metadata, ICC metadata and EXIF metadata. All of that registered as a Microsoft trademark. Did I missed something?
    • by ameline (771895) <.ian.ameline. .at. .gmail.com.> on Thursday May 25, 2006 @09:42AM (#15401015) Homepage Journal
      Yes, that's exactly what they're doing. And it's a really butchered attempt too. So fine, they have this great new codec -- tiff has a well tested mechanism for specifying a new pixel codec. If they did it this way, they would loose absolutely no functionality - but no, they had to introduce gratuitous incompatibilities, new tags that duplicate exactly the capabilities of existing tiff tags, and remove baseline tiff capabilities. All while maintaining the 32 bit file size limitations of tiff.

      What a hack job. I would recommend anybody to stay (far, far) away from supporting this format until there is a (very) strong business case for it (Be pragmatic -- don't loose money over it, but don't help this become standard).

      In summary, the MS we've come to know and love is here in full force.
  • by sjonke (457707) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @08:59AM (#15400682) Journal
    All images encoded with Windows Media Photo have a blue cast to them
  • Cool (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mobby_6kl (668092) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @08:59AM (#15400686)
    MS got flamed for this on digg, and the few posts which are already here do the same, but I'm not so pessimistic about it.

    Jpeg sucks, this should be clear to anyone who tried to compare it [compression.ru] to Jpeg2000, for example. Unfortunately, J2k seems to be stuck, and since most browsers don't support it by default (even the upcoming IE7 and Opera 9), using this format on web is suicide.

    So, if this new format performs at about J2k level, and uses less resources to do so, I'm happy MS introduced it. Due to relative suckiness of jpeg, a lot of space and bandwidth is wasted in everything from cameras to online image galleries. If MS gets the licensing right, it could be a very welcome addition to the image compression methods.

    Of course, a stupid/evil license can kill either the format, or whoever tries to use it ;)
  • Image quality ? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by alexhs (877055) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @09:00AM (#15400690) Homepage Journal
    From Wikipedia :

    Windows Media Photo processes images at 16x16 macroblocks.
    Microsoft claims that Windows Media Photo offers a perceptible image quality comparable to JPEG 2000

    If you use blocks, you will get block effects. While JPEG2000 don't use blocks. So I'm sceptical about that image quality claim... It might be true when you take speed rather than size into account, however.
  • by linebackn (131821) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @09:00AM (#15400696)
    My first thought was that there was no way anybody would actually use this format but Micrsoft has enough power to blackmail^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H convince enough web sites or application developers to use this format that eventually everyone would have to have this regardless if they wanted it or not.

    And I don't beleive for one second that this is really "open". Microsoft would never do anything unless it benifited them somehow.
  • pretty pathetic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by m874t232 (973431) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @09:05AM (#15400727)
    Mostly, what this tells you is that Microsoft is confused and doesn't know what they are doing in this area.

    First of all, compression really isn't an issue with digital cameras or image storage. Among other things, the fact that most serious photographers store RAW images is a good indication of that.

    Second, lumping together JPEG and JPEG 2000 as "JPEG" doesn't make sense; JPEG 2000 already has all the advantages that Windows Media Photo claims, but it's an open standard. Microsoft should implement it, as should electronics manufacturers.

    Third, Microsoft is overestimating their market position and significance in the digital imaging market.

    I suppose you can't fault them for trying, but this particular attempt at monopolizing the market looks pretty pathetic.
    • Re:pretty pathetic (Score:3, Insightful)

      by m50d (797211)
      First of all, compression really isn't an issue with digital cameras or image storage. Among other things, the fact that most serious photographers store RAW images is a good indication of that.

      All that tells you is it isn't an issue for serious photographers. For me as a consumer with my £100 camera and £20 storage card it certainly is an issue

  • by swschrad (312009) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @09:05AM (#15400728) Homepage Journal
    OPEN specifications only, please. it has to be supported on all platforms.

    these two ideas, core to the net, means that Microsoft and its eely, oily ways should be barred from submitting the spec.
  • No EULA needed (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Wee (17189) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @09:09AM (#15400762)
    it is interesting that the specification requires a click-through agreement to even read it

    Not true. Look at the source of the page. You'll see that the "I accept" button is at actually a simple GET request to here [microsoft.com]. If you paste that into your location bar and then click the link on the right hand side of the page that comes up, you get the the spec.

    I'm not sure of the legality of direct linking to their .doc file without agreeing to some nonsense EULA, but they put it on the web, so they have to expect a link here and there.

    -B

  • by cyberjessy (444290) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @09:13AM (#15400803) Homepage
    The future is obviously going to be media heavy, with tons of pics/videos all over the place. As such, better media formats are required. No doubt.

    But when MS bundles decoders with the OS, it automatically gets a huge installed base. Now how will an open format compete with that, which the users will have to download? The MS format might get adopted even if it is proprietary. Which is very very bad.

    jpeg2k has no adoption is for the same reason.

    Interestingly, this is where a "platform" like Firefox becomes more important. As a delivery channel, of open formats. If Firefox ever becomes the dominant browser, that will solve a lot of the distribution problems. Of course, the Firefox team will decide what to bundle, but I am sure they are nice people.
  • by Avogadros Letter (867221) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @09:16AM (#15400824)
    I, for one, welcome our 50% smaller, lossy overlords...
  • by rs232 (849320) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @09:19AM (#15400842)
    "You may review these Materials only .. to interface with a Microsoft product"

    "MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTY OF ANY KIND"

    "If .. ownership .. changes, Your right to use these Materials automatically terminates"

    "Microsoft may freely use, reproduce, license, distribute, and otherwise commercialize Your Feedback"

    "You will not give Microsoft any Feedback (i) that You have reason to believe is subject to any .. intellectual property claim"

    "Microsoft has no obligation to maintain the confidentiality .. of Your Feedback"

    "You waive any defenses allowing the dispute to be litigated elsewhere"

    "If any part of this Agreement is unenforceable, it will be considered modified to the extent necessary to make it enforceable"

    from "Windows Media Photo Specification license agreement [microsoft.com].
  • priorities much? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tehwebguy (860335) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @09:19AM (#15400849) Homepage
    hey microsoft, why don't you patch ie6 to work with alpha transparent pngs first (i know ie7 is supposed to work with them, but i don't have 4 years to wait until EveryMan(tm) has upgraded).

    we have plenty of image formats that work for us, and most of us have broadband anyway.
  • by l3v1 (787564) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @09:43AM (#15401019)
    ...and it's JPEG2000, and this try from MS is nothing but a mimic (integer operations, lossy and lossless, partial decoding, block sizes, bw and color, int and floating point precision, image sizes, xml metadata, you name it).

    We don't need cameras supporting an MS image format, no sir, we need cameras supporting state of the art standards in image formats, for which MS brings nothign new with this move.

  • **shrug** for real (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ilgaz (86384) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @09:54AM (#15401114) Homepage
    Well, there is JPEG 2000 and its your loss if you don't use it http://www.jpeg.org/jpeg2000/ [jpeg.org]

    The amazing, unbelievable thing made me "shrug" is they have the face to use "professional" word. I shouldn't RTFM really.

    Professionals use RAW. RAW you hear me Microsoft? Also they use TIFF for transport. That is the established non lossy standard with some weird extensions, file variations. That is also why professional photographers will be the first Blu Ray recorder customers.

    Nobody, nobody can dare to lose a PIXEL, single PIXEL. That is how you work in professional World.

    Dear BillG if you are reading this: FIRE whoever came with that idea. Even Microsoft does not deserve to be robbed like that.

    And people here (at geek sites) joked when Allume managed to come up with a lossless jpeg compressor. The camera manufacturer and memory manufacturer CARTEL insists on using JPEG , that is how you sell people 1 gigabyte memory cards but it is up to customer asking for jpeg 2000 format on equipment they buy.

    So, there is still JPEG, one company (one of their interns I heard) managed to compress it by 30% levels and people joked about them. http://hardware.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/01/ 12/0725217 [slashdot.org]

    Here is World's billions of dollars company coming up with a lossy format for PROFESSIONALS. I can only *shrug* sorry.

    Please Microsoft, introduce your "format" to professionals who has nothing to do with your businesses and watch them laugh at you.

    Even end users know RAW format.
  • Yeah, Mk... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ceeam (39911) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @09:57AM (#15401151)
    New photo format from MS! Yay! I'm sure digicam makers will _gladly_ embrace it after Microsoft fucked them over with FAT patent royalties enforcement.
  • by Danathar (267989) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @10:13AM (#15401273) Journal
    Since the use of compression is to compensate for lack of either 1) Storage or 2)Bandwidth I have to wonder how useful having a tighter compression format for pictures would be. Computers are faster, hard drives larger, broadband quicker. I'd like to see better LOSSLESS compression than lossy comrpession.
  • by massysett (910130) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @10:28AM (#15401404) Homepage
    That from a company that wants to charge license fees [microsoft.com] for FAT? Yeah, right. They might not charge licensing fees now, but if this graphics standard ever gets to be twenty years old, not under active development, and ubiquitous, watch out.
  • by Locutus (9039) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @12:08PM (#15402355)
    not agreeing to the license terms on Microsofts site for this results in a web page on something called Microsofts XPS Document format which they claim is an open and cross-platform specification. We all know that MS Cross-Platform means it works across all supported versions of Microsoft Windows but this MS Open xxxxx convention is getting alot of air time these days.

    It would be an interesting list to see just how often Microsoft claims one if its products are "open" or names a product/feature with the "open" name...

    Microsoft Open Packaging
    Microsoft Office Open XML Formats
    Microsoft Open License Program
    Microsoft Open Volume Licenses
    Microsoft Open Academic MS Open License 6.0 Academic Edition
    Microsoft Open Database Connectivity ( might be ODBC related and might not count )
    Microsoft Open License Value
    MICROSOFT OPEN SQL SERVER 2005 ENTERPRISE EDITION
    Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, Open Text ( included since they seem to be VERY close to MS )
    Microsoft Open Source Software Lab ( explains why MS Marketing Corp is using 'open' so much )

    There's probably much more but wow, I really didn't think it had gone THIS far.

    LoB

  • by WhiteWolf666 (145211) <sherwin&amiran,us> on Thursday May 25, 2006 @12:40PM (#15402684) Homepage Journal
    1) UNISYS : Microsoft

    A) Pitbull : Beelezebub
    B) 9mm : Howizter
    C) Dog shit : Milwaukee Sewage System
    D) All of the above.
  • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Thursday May 25, 2006 @02:23PM (#15403619) Homepage Journal
    According to the C|Net article:
    Additionally, Microsoft's new image format allows such things as rotating the image without the need to decode it and subsequently encode it again, he said.
    Uh, JPEG already does this. Has nobody at C|Net ever heard of jpegtran? Does the MS format allow non 90 degree turns or something?

It is clear that the individual who persecutes a man, his brother, because he is not of the same opinion, is a monster. - Voltaire

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