Microsoft and Partners announce Camera Raw Support in Windows.

The below is an extract of a press release issued by Microsoft Yesterday, IT details upcoming downloads and native support for Camera RAW in Windows XP and the upcoming Windows "Longhorn".

REDMOND, Wash. - June 1, 2005 -- Microsoft Corp., together with leading companies in the digital imaging industry, today announced enhancements to the family of Windows® operating systems that will enable consumers to easily work with RAW files in current and future versions of Windows. Working closely with digital imaging industry leaders including Adobe Systems Inc., Canon Inc., Fuji Photo Film Co. Ltd. and Nikon Corp., Microsoft plans to deliver native support for digital camera RAW images in the next major version of Windows, code-named "Longhorn."

In addition, Microsoft is enhancing the digital imaging experience for Windows XP with the upcoming availability of the Microsoft® RAW Image Thumbnailer and Viewer for Windows XP, allowing consumers to view thumbnails and preview and print Canon and Nikon RAW files from Windows Explorer in Windows XP. These features, as well as the ability to organize and edit Canon and Nikon RAW files, will also be available in a future version of Digital Image Suite.

Microsoft also announced it is developing a certification program for third-party RAW image codecs that will ensure their solutions provide a consistent experience for consumers who are using RAW image files. With this new RAW support across the Windows platform and products, Microsoft is enabling a seamless experience for consumers working with RAW digital images and delivering an extensible architecture for hardware and software industry partners.

For the more information and the full release visit here. Whilst this isn't a surprise at this point in time it will hopefully place some pressure on the need for the development and use of a common or open standard for Camera RAW Data. What this means for users is that they can get access to their images directly from the operating system, however it remains to be seen just how good Microsoft's implementation of RAW handling will be...