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Microsoft's photo op: digital imaging and Windows Vista

Microsoft's photo op: digital imaging and Windows Vista

I've received a boatload of e-mail from readers asking about the future of my lost-in-limbo Pixel Perfect column. (OK, it may only be a toy rowboat full, but I'll take my warm fuzzies where I can get them.) Unfortunately, I tended to approach each column with the curiosity and determination of a grad student confronting her thesis, which gets really difficult to do with any regularity. So instead, along with the rest of the known universe, I'm taking advantage of the more fluid structure of a blog in order to address similar subjects; that way, if I can summon only enough thoughts to fill a paragraph, a paragraph is what you'll get.

As in an election year, the months leading up to the significant release of a major operating system engenders vast amounts of punditry: analysis, criticism, praise, mockery, and advice. I hope to offer all of those during the coming months as I delve into Windows Vista and its impact on PC-based digital imaging. I don't really care about what the dialog boxes look like unless they help or hinder my productivity. I want to know how it will affect the way I manipulate photos and videos, the impact on print quality and color matching, compatibility implications for my favorite imaging hardware, and how it might change your experience of digital video and photography. I want to know how it compares to the Mac as a graphics platform and how essential an upgrade it represents to current Windows XP users--consumer, enthusiast, and professional alike.

That's the plan.

If you've any doubts about the necessity to reflect on these issues, just look at all the words spent on propagating the mistaken idea that Windows Media Photo, Microsoft's proposed new photo format, is some nefariously intentioned JPEG/JPEG2000 usurper. In fact, when you look at Vista's color engine, you realize that Microsoft had to come up with a new format, because no existing compressed format can handle all that Vista will throw at it. The real question for Microsoft imperialism theorists should be: did the company have to come up with a solution to a problem of its own making?

But that's a subject for another day.