Microsoft formally launched HD Photo, a new file format for digital images, at the big Photo Marketing Association trade show that's going down in Las Vegas this week. Not exactly a surprise, since they've been talking about it for a while now (you may recall that HD Photo used to be known as Windows Media Photo), but the big news is that they're pushing it hard with a plug-in for Photoshop (for both Windows and OS X) and native support for the new format in Vista. There's no doubt that HD Photo is a more efficient imaging codec than JPEG -- the older standard is most definitely showing its age -- but JPEG is more or less the defacto standard that everyone has rallied around and it'll take a lot to get people to switch. As far as we know no manufacturers have announced plans to ship digital cameras that shoot in HD Photo (even as an option along with JPEG and/or RAW), and even though Microsoft is being pretty liberal with licensing terms for HD Photo, they still own the patents on it and aren't planning on donating the standard to the public domain any time soon.

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