There is also a tremendous amount of innovation to come in terms of the display and rendering capabilities. "For instance, contrast ratios of 5,000:1 up to 30,000:1 are coming in the next three years. A tremendous range of brightness to darkness in the display is also coming, and images taken with JPEG XR will access the capabilities of these displays, whereas images encoded with JPEG wont. This will be a major benefit for user appreciation of digital photography," Rossi said.This technology would also help stimulate the ecosystem of editing and image manipulation software as well as the printing and display devices that would be created around these new capabilities, all of which customers would be willing to pay for, he said, as the standard could be implemented in cell phones, digital still cameras, printers and other devices. Asked how Microsoft will take advantage of the standard, Rossi said it has laid down the foundation for that in Windows Vista in the Windows Color System, a collaboration with Canon, which is a retooling for the future of fidelity for the baseline imaging support in the platform. Another technology, the XML Paper Specification, is dedicated to printing and is also in the process of being standardized, while Microsoft is currently working on technology related to the display. "In the future, displays with a bit depth of 10 and higher will be built by manufacturers, and, as that unfolds, we will be working with them to develop the drivers and other ways those capabilities can be accessed. That will not just be for Vista, but also for the Xbox or other media devices coming out of Microsoft," he said. That, to Directions on Microsoft analyst Matt Rosoff, is exactly the reason behind Microsofts push to have its HD Photo technology approved as a standard: "I still think this is mainly an effort to control innovation within Windows and thereby drive upgrades." NEC LCDs add Vista support. Read more here. Rosoff said this standardization effort reminds him of what Microsoft did with VC-1, the standardized version of the Windows Media Video 9 codec. The HD Photo technology comes out of the same product group and, in both cases, Microsoft invested significant resources to develop a format but found little natural demand for that format. "Standardization is an effort to increase the adoption of this format," he said. In the case of VC-1, that approach worked as both the HD DVD and Blu-ray specs have VC-1 as one of the mandatory codecs that all hardware must support, along with H.264 and MPEG-2. "So far, that hasnt led to an explosion of VC-1-formatted content on those discs, but the groundwork is laid," Rosoff said. But the underlying question in both cases is why Microsoft saw fit to develop a format where there was already a widely accepted standard, he said, adding that there are several possible reasons for this. These include the desire to control the pace of innovation on the Windows platform, since Microsoft can improve these formats, thereby improving Windows ability to work with digital media without waiting for approval or participation from multiparty bodies with multiple, sometimes competing, business agendas, he said. Also, if HD Photo gets some traction, then Microsoft can support it instead of other standards and will not have to pay royalties, Rosoff said. But to Microsofts Robertson, the question of why another standard is necessary is a simple one: Technology has evolved and continues to do so, and there have to be new approaches and new mechanisms to improve interoperability and to enable new and evolved innovation. Check out eWEEK.coms for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis.
To read about how the U.S. PTO rejected a patent assertion against JPEG, click here.