The JPEG image format has been key to the effectiveness of the Web - the cleverly compressed image format made it possible for visually stunning web pages to be developed and browsed by users back in a time where download speeds were like treacle. But now, Microsoft wants to challenge the format's dominance.

At the recent Windows Hardware Engineering conference, Microsoft has unveiled a rival image format - Windows Media Photo file format. Seemingly, this new format has compression technology can offer better images at half the size of a JPEG file, and offers fixed or floating point high dynamic range image encoding. Lossless or high quality lossy compression is also available, and the overhead for format conversion or transformations during decode is minimal. It will help users to save on storage space, and contains features that allow only parts of the image to be compressed if desired.

But is this not going far enough? Can this new format really take on, and overtake JPEG, which is such an established standard? If the compression ratio were, say, ten times better than JPEG, then maybe it might be in with a chance. But is two times the compression really enough for people to sit up and take notice?