HD Photo will be awesome… In 2010?

John Nack’s post on HD Photo reminded me that I wanted to write something about this. HD Photo is part of Vista and used to be called Windows Meda Photo. It’s a new file format for representing images, which looks to be superior to JPEG in every way except one. Apparently, Microsoft holds some patents on HD Photo which don’t expire until (at least) 2010. That means that it won’t be possible to build open source implementations of HD Photo. There is a lot of code out in the world that relies on an open source JPEG decompressor, and that code isn’t going to be able to do HD Photo for quite some time.

Technically HD Photo sounds great, and as a photographer I can easily appreciate the benefits of the new format. But this reminds me of the whole proprietary RAW format issue. People are recording their life in their photos, and it’s important for them to know that they will be able to bring those photographs forward with them no matter what file format they chose. I think that Microsoft could set themselves apart as a leader here by changing the licensing of HD Photo. They’ve already done it once.

Adobe opened up PDF this week. It would be awesome for photographers and the users of digital pictures if Microsoft would do the same for HD Photo.

8 Responses to “HD Photo will be awesome… In 2010?”


  • Grrr :-)

    JPEG 2000 is already here today, it’s already an ISO standard, it’s already supported by Adobe, it’s already in OS X, there are already multiple implementations (including open source), there are already HW chips… Why does the world need HD Photo?

    -mpg

  • Wouldn’t some SUSE developer be able to do an open source implementation of HD Photo under Novell’s agreement with MS?

    :)

  • Maarten – if only a SUSE developer can do it, it isn’t really open source, now is it?

  • I didn’t realize JPEG 2000 had more legal issues, although if this article is correct all of the known IP holders have agreed to license it free and clear. (Does HD Photo also use wavelet compression?)

    Otherwise, the last thing I need is another media format that’s only usable on the latest WinOS.

    BTW: PDF has always been “open” but its main component has never been a “standard” before. (I think some of the printing-industry pieces such as PDF/X were though.)

  • With respect to submarine patents, JP2 has no more legal issues around it than anything else — say, JPEG, for example… :-)

    With respect the the relicensing question, it’s an interesting point the article makes but I’ve not personally looked into the actual license terms of the patent holders — there’s been enough FUD on this very topic that I’d check original sources before going with what Wikipedia says. (In any case, it certainly hasn’t been a practical barrier to any implementations to date, including some OS projects.)

    All that said, JP2 is still way closer to “free” than HD Photo would seem to be.

    -mpg

  • I’m not saying that HD Photo is open. It’s clearly not. However, if, and big if, MS could be persuaded to change the license again, then that’s probably easier than finding all the JP2 folks. An MS has done some relicensing friendly stuff already.

    But I’m not planning on making either JP2 or HD Photo anytime soon.

  • JPEG 2000 is optimized for lossy compression and JPEG-LS is for lossless, but HD Photo can do both and can even efficiently requantize AFAIK.

    In general, the patent situation about every multimedia format seems shrouded in much more confusion than necessary.

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