JPEG reinvented: better images, smaller files

Traditional JPEGs lose a lot of image data because they are so highly compressed. XR gets round this

The continually turning wheel of tech means that even something like the humble JPEG can be superseded - whether we like it or not.

Microsoft is the driving force behind a new format called JPEG XR ('eXtended Range'), which is set to give us better photo quality, yet smaller file sizes.

What's wrong with JPEG?

Of course, the XR doesn't necessarily promote market-friendliness, so the marketers are calling it 'HD photo' so the mainstream consumer can get their heads round it.

At the time the format was launched, Microsoft said that it: "offers a host of new features and benefits focusing on the current and emerging needs of digital photography".

The main benefit is for improved photo quality per byte of data - as you'd expect from something called 'HD'. Traditional JPEGs lose a lot of image data because they are so highly compressed. XR circumvents this - Microsoft says the new format is more efficient at compression while retaining better image quality.

A future photo standard

The Joint Photographic Expert Group has given the go ahead to the efforts and is working to create XR as an open standard so it can be used by all camera manufacturers and computer systems. However, the process is expected to take about a year to be fully rubber stamped.

"As much as I would love to have more support for it, I think it's logical for people to wait for there to be a standardised version of it," said Josh Weisberg of Microsoft's Rich Media Group as quoted by

"If we weren't going through the standardisation process, we'd be pushing much harder for people to support it." Microsoft has already implemented the technology in Windows Vista, but wants it to be adopted universally.


Dan (Twitter, Google+) is TechRadar's Former Deputy Editor and is now in charge at our sister site Covering all things computing, internet and mobile he's a seasoned regular at major tech shows such as CES, IFA and Mobile World Congress. Dan has also been a tech expert for many outlets including BBC Radio 4, 5Live and the World Service, The Sun and ITV News.