Microsoft: The Bull in the Color Shop

Opinion: Microsoft's move to update its color management schemes might be a good thing, but will the print industry trust a proprietary solution?

Microsoft is becoming more color-aware. In fact Microsoft, with input from Canon, plans a complete rewrite of the color game planin its Windows Color System integrated in the upcoming operating system Vista.

Redmond details the motivation behind its shakeup of Color Management in a recent white paper. In that paper, Microsoft bemoans the growing user frustration with bad color, the failings of the present ICC profile approach, and the difficulties for developers in creating color-managed applications when they are not themselves color experts.

I e-mailed in some questions to the Microsoft press office. Unfortunately, in lieu of a promised phone response they e-mailed back replies so technical that I am not quite able to make out whether my questions were addressed.

To avoid misrepresenting one of the worlds most powerful companies, I am posting the Q&A text, which was supplied for attribution, verbatim, to my own geeky color management blog. So please take what follows below to be my own opinions and interpretations.

  • Microsoft believes that good color is now a mainstream user request in office and home use, i.e., on screens, color copiers, printers and digital cameras. Users demand a seamless workflow, where good color is "automagically" maintained by the computer system. To extract a few words from the white paper, "Color that just works."
  • Microsoft believes that the shortcomings of the current ICC profile world are severe and wants to move to a Windows-centric measurement-based system, where the user would input raw measurements into Windows.