Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The Microsoft Vista Windows Color System (WCS) Q&A

Hi Edmund,

Thanks again for all of your patience as I've been working on your request. I heard from colleagues this morning and it turns out that unfortunately, the spokesperson is not able to make the call today. My sincere apologies for any inconvenience, and they asked that I let you know they would be able to arrange a call in the future.

However, below you will find answers to your questions, which can be attributed to Josh Weisberg, Group Product Manager, Windows Client Division, Microsoft.

1) If I understand rightly the architecture is measurement based rather than profile-based. Is this correct? If so, Windows computes the profiles itself, in a way transparent to the user. In this case, if I understand rightly, the user will still need measurement hardware (spectros) to calibrate the equipment, but no more special third party profiling software for screen or print like Profile Maker Pro from GMB, or software from Xrite. Is this correct?

ICC and WCS XML architectures are both profile-based. It is probably clearer to describe ICC profiles as pre-processed monolithic collections of device, viewing condition and gamut mapping data, where the WCS XML profiles are unprocessed modular profiles with separate profiles for the objective intra-device measurement data, the objective intra-viewing condition measurement data and the subjective inter-device/viewing condition gamut mapping data. In one sense, both ICC and WCS XML profiles contain the same basic information. ICC profiles combine them all together typically after some processing by the profile creation software to massage the objective measurement data into the format structure. WCS XML profiles keeps the information separate and unprocessed until invoked by the workflow transformation process.

2) If users don't need special software to profile, this addresses one of the main weaknesses of the ICC CMS system, the fact that the user has to supply profiles. Users will love MS for providing an integrated solution. On the other hand, Microsoft has in the past never been a leader in Color Management Solutions, why should the print and photo industry believe that their solution will work and translate color in an accurate and pleasing way? Who are the color experts backing the Microsoft approach?

Canon is a leader in color devices, color engineering and color science. Together we co developed the Windows Color System architecture to provide solutions unattainable by previous color management solutions. In addition to Canon Inc. and Canon Development Americas who have color experts that have led both ICC and CIE standards bodies, Microsoft's own color team has considerable experience in the color management industry with expertise that was behind the colorsync2 architecture, led formation of ColorSync Consortium (later became ICC), led creation of sRGB and scRGB and more.

Please note we are currently in Beta with WCS, actively soliciting feedback from our industry partners and we will be making improvements to WCS based upon this feedback.

3)      In what way is the drift of equipment addressed? Will MS encourage a move to self-calibrating equipment, or is the user stillsupposed to keep measuring his equipment and ensuring its color stability?

This solution will enable 3rd parties to better address the problem ofdrift by supporting plug-in device models as well as device model profiles that are objective measurement data which can easily be compared against newer measurements to compute differences and recomputed the plug-in device parameters. While we did not solve all color management problems with this version, but this work lays the foundation for a long term commitment to solving color management problems.

Again, please attribute this information to Josh Weisberg, Group Product Manager, Windows Client Division, Microsoft.

Thanks again for all of your patience Edmund, and please let me know if I can be of assistance with any future inquiries.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Translating the response to your first question:

ICC profiles are generated for a specific combination of:

* Viewing conditions/lighting.
* Gammut mapping data.
* Device data.

The new MS system separates these so that each can be controled independently. The final mapping (equivalent to the ICC profile) is only generated at the output stage.


In some ways this might give more flexible control over color, however, its not obvious that the end result is going to be any better. It simplifies life for the device (printer) manufacturers since they only have to produce one mapping for the device itself, and someone else takes care of the gammut maps and lighting/media mappings. MS just multiplies all of these together and uses the result to transform the color data.

Anyone wanting anything other than the maufacturere produces mappings will now have to produce three mappings rather than the one with ICC. Each of these are arguably more complex and difficult to create independently than is the combined result (the ICC profile).

This seems oriented towards domestic users rather than professionals.