Microsoft recently released the Microsoft Camera Codec Pack for Windows 7 and Windows Vista, bringing native viewing of RAW format image files directly within Windows Explorer, as well as Windows Live Photo Gallery. If you don’t know what RAW format is, the Inside Windows Live blog gives you a good explanation of what it is:
For those of you who are unfamiliar with raw format, it is the uncompressed output from each of the original pixels on the camera’s image sensors. Raw files have several advantages over JPEG files including higher image quality, finer control, and more image information. Think of them as big, digital negatives waiting to be processed.
Besides bringing viewing capability of RAW image files, the new codec pack also enables Windows Live Photo Gallery to edit these RAW images, without modifying the original:
Photo Gallery will also support editing copies of your raw images. Because raw files are like digital negatives, they’re protected originals, not to be altered or harmed. We know your originals are precious, so if you want to alter a raw image, Photo Gallery makes a copy of the raw original and converts it to either JPEG or the far superior JPEG-XR (or HD Photo) format. With JPEG-XR, all of the quality of the raw original is there so you can fine-tune different editing effects.
Check out the video below for a great overview of the Microsoft Camera Codec Pack and how it works with Windows Live Photo Gallery: