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MS Proposes JPEG Alternative 633

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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  • 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?


    (Oh, and expect PNG support in IE7 to be downgraded)
  • 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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 25, 2006 @08:47AM (#15400599)
    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.

  • 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...


  • Another Debate (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <(eldavojohn) (at) (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.
  • Even a better one (Score:2, Insightful)

    by canuck57 ( 662392 ) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @08:51AM (#15400627)
    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.

  • 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.
  • by enitime ( 964946 ) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @09:01AM (#15400705)
    Lossy format with alpha channel?
    Better image quality for lossy format?
    Better compression for lossless format?
    More than 32bit colour depth?

    There's lots of reasons for new formats.
  • Re:Ummmm why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nagora ( 177841 ) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @09:03AM (#15400715)
    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.


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • by pandrijeczko ( 588093 ) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @09:08AM (#15400755)
    You're probably trolling but I'll bite...

    You seem to be forgetting that you're able to read Slashdot (or any Internet site) because the Internet allows you to connect from your desktop machine/laptop/etc. to Slashdot's server(s). It's an *OPEN STANDARD* called TCP/IP that allows you to do that and it doesn't matter what operating systems are running on either of those two computers (or indeed any other network devices on the network between you and Slashdot).

    Sure, the new Microsoft standard may well be completely open but their past history suggests it probably won't be. Thus, applying your logic to networking standards, if those too were closed then that would restrict you from accessing a lot of good stuff on any intranet or the Internet because not every operating would support those networking protocols - it might even result in you paying more for every byte you download because someone somewhere has to pay a license to use a closed standard.

    Added to this, please be aware that the majority of large internet web & mail servers run a UNIX-type operating system - they always have done and they probably always will do.

    So whilst I would not argue that most desktops run Windows, this is not the case for the whole Internet.

    And as to getting work done, the only time I run a Windows operating system these days is for gaming - every serious piece of work I do is on Linux in a company that uses a Windows-based infrastructure. Yes, it's taken me time to sometimes get stuff to work properly but it does - and I end up being more productive as a result because I can, for example, edit text files far quicker in Vi than I can in Notepad.

    If Windows is your OS of choice then good luck to you & I hope you enjoy your computing as much as I do mine - but please don't make incorrect sweeping statements...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 25, 2006 @09:09AM (#15400759)
    We don't know what the ultimate (if any) licensing regime will be for this.

    1) It looks like the algorithms won't be able to be patented in the European Union, so there'll be nothing to stop someone in the EU implementing their own software to do this and read/write from/to MS generated pictures.

    2) Elsewhere, this could act as a differentiator for MS office. If the default image format in MS-Office is this new one, and applications that use ISO/IEC 26300-compliant (ODF-compliant) formats cannot use it due to patent restrictions, then this could act as a tool to prevent people from moving to applications that use ISO/IEC 26300-compliant methods of storing their files.
  • 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 grumbel ( 592662 ) <grumbel+slashdot@gmail.com> on Thursday May 25, 2006 @09:17AM (#15400826) Homepage
    ...and pretty much useless for photos, unless one is happy with very large files.
  • 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.
  • Re:Ummmm why? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @09:20AM (#15400853) Homepage
    So, my question is fundamentally..........WHY?

    For consumers, because Microsoft actually makes high quality codecs. WMV has been highly competitive with MPEG4 AVC aka H.264, WMA has been highly competitve with AAC, I'm sure WMP will be highly competitve with JPEG2000 and the like. MPEG2, MP3 and JPEG are industry standards but behind the bleeding edge in compression technology. They'll all come preinstalled on the most popular OS and "just work".

    For Microsofts part, because Microsoft wants to be the dominating standard of next-gen formats. Because if the three dominant formats are WMV (video), WMA (audio), WMP (photo) they can collect lots of licensing fees and Windows sales and so on. They control the features, they will always be first to release the implementation, everyone else is playing catch-up. Not to mention they will control WM*-DRM with a huge hold on all media.

    Personally, I don't like WMP, I prefer Media Player Classic. But I also notice that some WMVs will not play properly using the standard DirectShow filters, ONLY in WMP. It's another one of those nice little hooks they pull. WM* formats work best not just on Windows, but WMP on Windows. But I must admit, that when I do play them the One Microsoft Way, they look and sound pretty damn good. In short, if you just take the very near-sighted approach and look at nothing but the quality, it's more of a "Why not?".
  • by FunctionalMethod ( 751923 ) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @09:24AM (#15400889)
    I imagine that photo-heavy sites will be more then interested in a format that halfes their bandwidth use.
  • Re:JPEG 2000 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rocketship Underpant ( 804162 ) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @09:26AM (#15400906)
    It's well-supported by Apple and OS X.
  • Re:Another Debate (Score:2, Insightful)

    by NihilEst ( 976138 ) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @09:31AM (#15400930)
    > I kid, I kid.

    No, me thinkest not.

    Instead of making things simple, MSFT has chosen to confound yet again. Their claim to being the OS for the masses is getting more absurd every day.

  • by linvir ( 970218 ) * on Thursday May 25, 2006 @09:36AM (#15400962)
    In short, MS has caught the rest of us napping, found an honest-to-god gap, and created something that fills it. Now we either start gathering lamb's blood to support their format, or we lock a load of people in a room with some computers and get a better open version out fast.
  • 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.

  • by xoyoyo ( 949672 ) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @09:39AM (#15400995)
    I think we can disregard the comments of the "part-time professional photographer" in TFA.

    A pro photographer who is worried about quality will shoot RAW (or even film). A pro photographer who is interested in getting the picture out fast will shoot JPEG, because that's what the agencies and newspapers expect. Most will shoot both and run a JPEG out in the camera before emailing it back to the editorial office.

    Also having lossy and lossless in one format isn't as useful as you might think. Lossy compression saves space and transmits faster (obviously) - you lose all those benefits if you then bind a lossless file to it.

    I can't see what problem they're trying to solve: the three things that better lossy compression is supposed to help: storage, bandwidth and CPU cycles improve exponentially over time. It's a very very long time since I had to wait for Photoshop to open a JPEG (although RAW files still take an age).

  • 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 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.

  • Re:pretty pathetic (Score:3, Insightful)

    by m50d ( 797211 ) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @09:51AM (#15401080) Homepage Journal
    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 RasputinAXP ( 12807 ) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @09:52AM (#15401095) Homepage Journal
    Clearly someone's never shot in RAW format before.
  • 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.
  • Re:Ummmm why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bastian ( 66383 ) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @10:13AM (#15401271)
    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.
  • by wvr ( 142011 ) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @10:14AM (#15401280)
    I'm surprised nobody mentioned this.

    Microsoft's JPEG replacement leaves it with an option if the Forgent suit goes the wrong way. Acting as if it's happy to stop using JPEG gives Microsoft leverage in an out-of-court negotiation.

    The patent in question expires in October 2006.

    Just my two cents.

    William vanRyper
  • Re:Cool (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 25, 2006 @10:38AM (#15401490)
    And with faster and faster internet lines why does this matter? File size no longer matters. How it compresses no longer matters. Can everyone see it matters. Does it look decent enough matters.

    Clearly you have never had to pay for bandwidth on a high traffic server.

    P.S. I'm on 28.8Kbps dial-up like the majority of people outside urban areas. (I disconnected and reconnected so I could post again within the ridiculously long flood interval here)

    Size does matter.
  • 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.
  • Re:Ummmm why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jere H ( 220274 ) <slashdot@nOsPaM.jeremyhipp.com> on Thursday May 25, 2006 @10:57AM (#15401689) Homepage
    This is a topic that can be very difficult to grasp. There are multiple semester courses in Fourier analysis in college. I'll try to make this as simple as possible.

    It is easier to explain with sound first.
    Imagine how a recording of your voice looks, when converted to an image of a sound wave.
    This waveform has peaks and valleys. If we take a triangle wave ( /\/\/\/ ) we can see that it almost looks like a sine wave. We can, in fact, convert the triangle wave into a summation of cosine waves. The main cosine wave has a frequency equal to the frequency of the triangle wave. We can then add a second, higher frequency cosine wave to the first, and this helps our waveform fit the triangle waveform better. We can continue with higher and higher frequencies until we have an almost exact representation. Corners in sound waves are very high frequency transitions, because the wave direction is changing very fast. This is why a 44.1kHz waveform sounds much better than an 8kHz waveform. Higher frequencies can be represented when the samples are converted into cosine waves to be played back. Thus, the frequency is like the detail of the sound.

    Frequency, when related to an image, is like the detail in an image.
    The frequency, in this case, is the frequency of the cosines used to represent this image.
    The cosines in a 2-d image can be imagined as taking the height of the cosine as the brightness value. The lowest value is black, and the brightest value is white. Imagine we have vertical bars of gradients from black to white. Higher frequency cosines will result in more bars in the image. These bars can be in the X (horizontal) or Y (vertical) direction.
    We can add these bars together and create an image.

    The basis of the fourier transform is to take an image, and convert it into this cosine representation. If we do this, we then have a list of the frequency of the cosines in the X and Y directions.

    Going back to the detail in an image:
    If we remove the higher frequency cosine waves, and convert the remaining data back into an image, we get a blurred version of the original image. This is the basis for many of the image filters in programs like Photoshop.
  • Re:Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jesus_666 ( 702802 ) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @12:59PM (#15402864)
    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 use GIFs and when that isn't enough they are happy to rape peoples CPUs with Flash animations. There isn't much demand for MNG and browser manufacturer complacency will ensure that it will stay that way because it isn't usable on the web.
  • by Ilgaz ( 86384 ) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @02:42PM (#15403781) Homepage
    "As for RAW, who's going to be able to read your RAW files even as little as 10 years from now? Nobody, probably. If you want archival storage, pick a known standard with a serious standards body behind it."

    TIFF for lossless (with LZW if you want to compress) is the archival storage format. JPEG for amateurs, JPEG 2000 or Lurawave for distribution. Note I speak about photos. Documents have different standards but again, not tied to a company who doesn't give a shit to other operating systems rather their own.

    Industry decided. They all have ITU etc standards each. What Microsoft does is childish, lame.

    Look at AVI , look how big joke it is. This thing MS came with is a joke too.

    The basic question if you want to check MS is serious or not. While they jump up and down like they found E=mc2 formula, just ask will they offer a OS X framework or quicktime codec for it. No? That is a joke than. As we are speaking about an image standard, where is their submission to ISO?

    Simple as that.

    You know, standard is something like JPEG 2000, TIFF with open industry standards. If I was a professional photographer, I'd store my "RAW" files too.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 25, 2006 @04:09PM (#15404604)

    Some huge claims are made of Windows Media Photo: the article implies that the format outperforms even the new JPEG2000 wavelet-based image format. But what is the compelling evidence of such performance? To my disappointment, the specifications do not even include an example visual comparison between Windows Media Photo/JPEG2000/JPEG. Furthermore, the only hint to how it actually works is this in the "Compression Algorithm Overview":

    "Windows Media(TM) Photo uses a very high performance reversible color space conversion, a reversible lapped biorthogonal transform and an advanced non-arithmentic entropy coding scheme."

    So what is the biorthogonal transform? Any invertible linear transform can be called "biorthogonal." And I have never heard of "arithmentic" encoding, though I have heard of "arithmetic" encoding. This is just jargon. I am not persuaded that Windows Media Photo is of interest.

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

    by pyite ( 140350 ) on Friday May 26, 2006 @12:28AM (#15407527)
    Hah, thanks, but I can't get too excited about that. If I did, it would be acknowledging that there was something novel about my comment. But there isn't. Admitedly, when I first saw Fourier series, I thought it was the most interesting math I had yet encountered. Now, that was in no small part due to this guy [rutgers.edu] and his excellent teaching and explanation of Fourier Series [rutgers.edu]. This is really no different than when it was proved by Fourier that any function (for some reasonable definition of any) could be represented as a sum of trig polynomials. It was a *cool* idea. Once you learn that, the DFT is cool, but not as earth shaking. To me, second only to Fourier series in terms of the "wow" factor when learning were wavelets and the associated Discrete Wavelet Transform and Filterbanks. But, one fact remains. Once you learn the DFT or the DCT or the mDCT or the DCT-II or furthermore the DWT, the first most *obvious* question is "Hey, what happens when we start removing frequency components?" And that's what all the lossy algorithms amount to; take a transform, set entries to zero, do some entropy encoding. How this is patentable is beyond me. In fact, this compression scheme is built in to learning Fourier series. Even though the sum in a Fourier series is to infinity, you obviously can't calculate or graph that with infinite precision. But you quickly realize that you only need a few terms. Aside from Gibbs' effect, a few Fourier terms represent a function really well.

No amount of genius can overcome a preoccupation with detail.