As the popularity of digital photography continues to rise, photographers are increasingly looking for better ways to preserve and enhance their digital images. One way they are doing so is by shooting pictures in the RAW format.
Microsoft, together with leading companies in the digital imaging industry, have announced enhancements to the family of Windows operating systems that will enable consumers to easily work with RAW files in current and future versions of Windows. Working closely with digital imaging industry leaders including Adobe Systems Inc., Canon Inc., Fuji Photo Film Co. Ltd. and Nikon Corp., Microsoft plans to deliver native support for digital camera RAW images in the next major version of Windows, code-named Longhorn.
In addition, Microsoft is enhancing the digital imaging experience for Windows XP with the upcoming availability of the Microsoft RAW Image Thumbnailer and Viewer for Windows XP, allowing consumers 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.
The explosion in popularity of digital photography on Windows continues to progress and evolve as consumers discover the quality benefits of digital camera RAW, said Amir Majidimehr, corporate vice president of Windows Digital Media at Microsoft. By working with industry leaders to extend support for RAW in Windows, we are removing the obstacles for consumer use of RAW and enabling a seamless platform for the next era of digital imaging innovation.
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. Microsofts 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 images 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 todays 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.
Native RAW Support Coming in Longhorn
Microsoft worked with imaging leaders to develop the digital camera RAW architecture in Longhorn and to provide the best digital photography experience for Windows consumers. Longhorn will deliver dramatic innovation in RAW support for independent software developers, camera manufacturers and consumers. Hardware and software partners will benefit from the standardized architecture for image codecs, which allows them to contribute their own codecs to be certified and implemented in Windows.
Microsofts platform approach provides built-in support for RAW files, enabling Windows-based applications to use all supported image types, including RAW. This architecture enables software applications to seamlessly support new image types upon codec certification by Microsoft. In addition, Longhorn will provide an application programming interface (API) that enables software vendors to exercise a higher degree of control over the RAW conversion in their applications, while enabling market opportunities for professional-level conversion tools.
For consumers, the ability to work with RAW image files just as easily as with JPEGs today will allow them to take advantage of the growing support for RAW in digital cameras and imaging software. Consumers will have more choices as new camera models are introduced because the new architecture in Longhorn makes it possible for all software programs on Windows to easily work with RAW image files.
RAW Image Thumbnailer and Viewer for Windows XP; Future Digital Image Suite Will Support RAW
In addition to announcing the imaging enhancements planned for the next version of Windows, Microsoft is helping Windows XP consumers realize the potential of RAW files. The Microsoft RAW Image Thumbnailer and Viewer for Windows XP will soon be available for free download* at www.microsoft.com. The RAW Image Thumbnailer and Viewer enhances the Windows XP photography experience by providing consumers with thumbnails, previews, printing and metadata display of RAW images directly in Windows Explorer. In addition, a future version of Microsoft Digital Image Suite will offer the ability to organize, edit and convert RAW files.
Industry partner support for digital camera RAW in Windows
Tomonori Iwashita, Director and Deputy Chief Executive of the Image Communication Products Group, Canon We believe Microsofts plans to deliver native support to digital camera RAW images in the Windows operating system is good news to consumers. RAW images are valued as one source of expanding the digital imaging world, and we welcome the possibility that more and more digital camera users will have the opportunity to experience and enjoy the world of RAW.
Kenji Watanabe, General Manager, Marketing Electronic Imaging Products Division, Fujifilm Microsofts support of digital camera RAW in both Windows XP and future versions of Windows is an exciting development that will make RAW image files much easier to use for the consumer. With these plans, users of Fujifilm cameras will enjoy a seamless, high-quality experience whenever working with Fujifilm RAW files on Windows-based PCs.
Kasuyuki Kazami, General Manager, Nikon Nikon is supporting Microsofts new operating system and compatible software, which will enable efficient and accurate handling of Nikon Electronic Format (NEF) RAW digital image file format. Through collaboration with Microsoft, we are confident that the expanded potential to use Nikons NEF will contribute substantially to the overall development of the photography industrys use of RAW files among the broadest market.