MS Fonts and Formats

If Microsoft has its way (and when don’t they?), their own WMP image compression format will eventually replace JPEG. MS claims to be able to cut file size in half at the same quality levels, and to sit up and do tricks like rotating an image without decoding/encoding. And yes, the format will be available to non-Windows platforms and devices, though there will be a licensing hook (that’s the part that gives me the willies).

What I’ve never understood is why the the open source world missed the boat with PNG, which is free of licensing restrictions and also does neat tricks, but lacks lossy compression and is therefore totally unsuitable for photographic work on the web (and also lacks the ability to store EXIF data). Yes, PNG was designed primarily as an alternative to GIF, but since they had the opportunity to build a format from the ground up, why didn’t they take the opportunity to tackle the two things we use images for the most (digital photography and photos on the web)? By not doing so, PNG left the door open for yet another proprietary format to take hold.

MS also has half a dozen excellent new fonts in the hopper – the six Cs. I could see myself growing to love Calibri.

Music: Seu Jorge :: Convite para vida

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7 Replies to “MS Fonts and Formats”

  1. If the OSS world can develop entire operating systems, you’d think they could come up with a lossy algorithm, no?

  2. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but Operating Systems are a software problem. There is lots of public, unpatented information on the subject…

    Lossy image compression algorithms, otoh, are an image science problem… Not only that, but many of the image patents are so broad that it makes it tough to create non-infringing algorithms…

    There’s a reason why there aren’t hundreds of lossy algorithms available (even in the commerical realm)… It’s not an easy problem to solve.

  3. Useful distinction Sean, thanks. And I guess I’m not shocked by overly broad patents getting in the way. It’s the way of the world these days.

  4. PNG didn’t have a fast takeup until after Unisys started charging royalties for LZW compression. Even then, it was years before the Major Browsers implemented it. Mozilla didn’t have a good implementation until Roelefs himself wrote the code for the Gecko Engine. Safari still doesn’t support Interlacing and IE didn’t have useful transparency until version 5.5

    A new lossy format will have the same teething issue and more. The fact that nearly all MP3 Embedded chips also support WMA, and that JPEG is supported by Embedded Chips in Cameras, reasons that soon JPEG chips will have the WMP Image format.
    Open Standard alternatives to MP3, like Vorbis and MPEG4 are only supported in Device when the manufacturer specifically requires it, like the iRivers, iPods and Nokia Phones.

    I think an alternative to JPEG should be left to the Experts; the Joint Picture Experts Group, to be precise.

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