With the speed of evolution in computing, standards and the web, have you ever wondered why we've been stuck with JPG as an image format for so long? Microsoft sure did, and after about 5 years of mulling the question, the company has produced what sounds like a very promising replacement: HD Photo. Offering greater support for new digital imaging trends like HDR (High Dynamic Range), HD Photo boasts the same or better image quality than JPG in half the file size. While Microsoft has patents on some of the technology in HD Photo, they are surprisingly allowing anyone to license it for free for use in apps and devices like photo editing software and digital cameras. To learn more than you might ever want to know about HD Photo, check out its Wikipedia entry or episode #51 of TWiM (This Week in Media), one of my favorite podcasts in which the crew sits down with Bill Crow, Microsoft's Program Manager for HD Photo. Be careful with that one though - TWiM's cast is composed of some incredibly knowledgeable, hard-core media geeks, and they eventually get their geek on with Crow as they delve into the discussion.
Long story short: excitement is steadily building for HD Photo, as it is shaping up to be quite the revolutionary image format that could (hopefully) knock JPG off its pedestal some day. Fortunately, the HD Photo team have taken another step in spreading the format by releasing a Photoshop CS2/CS3 plug-in for PowerPC and Intel Macs running Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger. The plug-in can be downloaded from Microsoft, and it for some odd reason expires on December 31, 2007. If you know your stuff when it comes to image formats and you give this plug-in a spin, let us know what you think in the comments.