Microsoft will soon submit a new photo format to an international standards organization that it says offers higher-quality images with better compression, the company said on Thursday.The format, HD Photo\u2014recently renamed from Windows Media Photo\u2014is taking aim at the JPEG format, a 15-year-old technology still widely used in digital cameras and image applications.Both formats take images and use compression to make the file sizes smaller so more photos can fit on a memory card. During compression, however, the quality of the photo tends to degrade.Microsoft said HD Photo\u2019s lightweight algorithm causes less damage to photos during compression, with higher-quality images that are half the size of JPEG.The format can also accommodate "lossless" and "lossy" compression, two methods of compressing photo data with different effects on image quality. Microsoft said adjustments can be made to color balance and exposure settings that won\u2019t discard or truncate data that occurs with other bitmap formats.Although JPEG is aging, it has been modified to help keep it up to date. The latest JPEG 2000 format features better image quality while also supporting lossless and lossy compression. The original JPEG\u00a0supported only lossy.Time will tell whether HD Photo can supplant JPEG by gaining the support of printer, camera and application vendors. But Microsoft is supporting the format in products such as its Vista and XP OSes and has already gained an important vendor ally.In the next two months, Adobe Systems and Microsoft will release plug-ins for CS3 and CS2 versions of its widely used Photoshop program for Vista, XP and Apple\u2019s OS X. Also, Microsoft has built an HD Photo Device Porting Kit so hardware manufacturers can support it.-Jeremy Kirk, IDG News Service (London Bureau)Related Link:\n\nMicrosoft Signs First E.U. Protocol LicenseeCheck out our CIO News Alerts and Tech Informer pages for more updated news coverage.