Microsoft is working together with digital image industry leaders such as Adobe, Canon, Fuji and Nikon to deliver native support for uncompressed digital camera RAW image files in the next version of Windows, code-named Longhorn.
Additionally the company will also launch Microsoft RAW Image Thumbnailer and Viewer for Windows XP. These programs will enable users to view thumbnails and preview and print Canon and Nikon RAW files from Windows Explorer in Windows XP. These features, as well as the ability to organize and edit Canon and Nikon RAW files, will also be available in a future version of Digital Image Suite.
Microsoft also announced it is developing a certification program for third-party RAW image codecs that will ensure their solutions provide a consistent experience for consumers who are using RAW image files. With this new RAW support across the Windows platform and products, Microsoft is enabling a seamless experience for consumers working with RAW digital images and delivering an extensible architecture for hardware and software industry partners.
"Aggressive price moves in the digital SLR space are expected to increase demand for digital SLR cameras to achieve an average annual growth rate of 12 percent between 2005 and 2009. IDC expects that significant growth will derive from consumers who desire higher-quality images," said Ron Glaz, program director of digital imaging services and solutions at IDC. "Microsoft's implementation of the RAW file format in 'Longhorn' will simplify access to RAW files, and that is expected to increase the use of the RAW file format by various types of digital camera users."
RAW image capture is becoming increasingly important to beginning and professional digital photographers because of its ability to preserve an image's fidelity. Often likened to a digital negative, a RAW image is preferred by many photographers who feel it preserves the subtle color and detail possible with today's digital cameras. Unlike a JPEG, which is processed in the camera, a RAW file is processed on a PC, where the exposure and color can be adjusted after the image has been captured. However, each new camera model introduces changes to RAW image files; this in turn requires that digital imaging applications must also be updated to support these changes. Microsoft is working with its partners to help solve this problem.