Microsoft tries to unseat JPEG with Windows Media Photo specification

Seattle (WA) - Microsoft introduced the Windows Media Photo picture format - .WDP - that promises better quality and smaller file sizes than JPEG files. The format uses a new compression algorithm that, according to Microsoft, can compress photos to 1/25th their original size - without visible impact on image quality.

The compression algorithm - "reversible lapped biorthogonal transform" - can handle both lossy and lossless compression, the company said. Microsoft claims that images will have better quality, while still being compressed to one-half the size of a comparable JPEG image.

There have been several approaches to replace JPEG format as a standard format for pixel-graphics and images. Especially JPEG artefacts, which become more visible the higher the compression ration have often been discussed as being outdated and as a roadblock in many industry and consumer applications.

There is no lack of potential successors - we have seen formats such as JPEG2000 or JPEG Pro - come and go. Even Adobe launched DNG back in 2004, which however, was aimed at simplifying the workflow for photographers shooting in RAW format.

Microsoft's new format will see the same challenges - convincing industry - including manbufacturers of devices with any kind of display, digital camera makers, software developers and of consumers that will have to adapt the format and find it convenient to use.