Microsoft Brings Native HEIF Support to Windows 10

Posted on March 16, 2018 by Mehedi Hassan in Windows 10 with 18 Comments

Microsoft is bringing support for the new HEIF image format to Windows 10. First popularized by Apple with iOS 11, HEIF is a new image format that uses less storage space while preserving image quality. The new image format is used by default on Apple’s iPhone X and other devices running iOS 11. While Microsoft’s online services like OneDrive already supported HEIF since the release of iOS 11, Windows 10 didn’t natively support the new format as of yet.

But with the upcoming Redstone 4 update–possibly called the Spring Creators Update–the Microsoft Photos app in Windows 10 will support HEIF by default. Microsoft is testing out a new update (version 2018.18022.13740.0) to the app with Windows Insiders in the new Redstone 4 build 17123 and Redstone 5 build 17623. The Redstone 4 build is available right now to Windows Insiders in the Fast Ring, while the Redstone 5 build is available to those part of Skip Ahead. The company is releasing a new build to the Slow Ring today as well.

In other news, Microsoft is also making it safer to use external GPUs in Windows 10 later this year. The company is introducing a new removal experience for external GPUs in Redstone 5 that will allow users to safely disconnect their external GPUs after closing all the apps or games that were making use of the GPU.

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Comments (18)

18 responses to “Microsoft Brings Native HEIF Support to Windows 10”

  1. lilmoe

    About time. It's really sad that it takes Apple to make such obvious enhancements "popular". What's worse is that even midrange smartphone processors have better native support for high efficiency encoding/decoding (both photos and videos) than the leading Intel Core desktop processors, let alone mobile.


    • dontbe evil

      In reply to lilmoe:

      let me know when apple adopt standards instead of create new proprietary one

      • Informed

        In reply to dontbe_evil:

        Well Apple has done well in not shoving this down people's throats: Upon transferring the photos to Windows or Google Drive they're automatically converted to JPGs. Simply connect an iPhone by USB to Windows and without even moving anything you'll see in Windows Explorer that all the Photos are JPG just like they used to be (you wouldn't even know about HEIF if you didn't read about it).

        Apple also deserves credit for not forcing new iOS versions on people. If you're willing to risk security for, say, better performance on an old iPhone that may not perform well with the latest and greatest iOS version, you don't need to upgrade. iOS will nag to update, but it won't automatically install--unlike Windows 10 which has notched up paternalism to an extreme beyond iOS and Android where even power users are forced on feature updates. Not when it's good for them, but when it's good for Microsoft (which is at least twice a year). Using Windows 7 I update Windows monthly, but when it's good for me which can be the day of Patch Tuesday or 3 weeks later (yeah I leave the computer running/sleeping with open windows for weeks at a time). So with Windows 7 I don't have the computer suddenly quitting all my unsaved Windows because it decided that updating cannot hold off a bit.

        If not for this concern of Windows choosing to quit windows when forcing updates (instead of queuing the update to install upon restart--whenever the user presses the shutdown/restart button) I'd have upgraded to Windows 10 long ago, which I'd love to do because I've been through about all the Windows versions and it just keeps getting better (except for error-prone Windows ME).

        • offTheRecord

          In reply to Informed:

          "yeah I leave the computer running/sleeping with open windows for weeks at a time"

          Yep. Windows 10's update functionality plays havoc with my workflow.

          • VancouverNinja

            In reply to offTheRecord:

            Seriously? Every platform updates - it is no big deal. I find iOS the most painful as I must enter in my flippin passcode everytime I skip an update but in the end the update is necessary in todays world. Try to get over your upgrade phobia.

            • offTheRecord

              In reply to VancouverNinja:

              Yes, every platform updates. On some of them, it's no big deal for me. On Windows, it's a big deal for me (especially, in the context of my comment above) because, as I've said numerous times in comments dealing with Windows Update on Windows 10 Pro, it plays havoc with my workflow. And it's not the fact that it updates that's the problem; it's the change in the way it updates that's the problem.

              Obviously, I'm not alone and, since its initial release, Microsoft has made some positive changes to Windows 10's update functionality to address some of the issues (such as now being able to throttle its over-aggressive bandwidth use). However, it's still worse for me in Windows 10 than it was in the past. YMMV, natch.

            • Informed

              In reply to VancouverNinja:

              It's not just platform updates (which have the extra annoyance of pushing it on me when Microsoft wants instead of when I'm ready to sort through the new features, i.e., read When with the release of every monthly update the time is nigh for all windows to be closed for automatic restart, as part of the update process, that's not okay for all. For multitaskers that keep windows open for days or weeks at a time, forced restarts are very disruptive to the workflow.

              It's understandable why Microsoft swung to this extreme in Windows 10: We all know non tech-savvy people who (pre-Windows 10) would not have "Install updates automatically" ticked off in the Windows Update settings and would have dozens if not hundreds of updates on hold while they are oblivious to the sorry state of their computer. But with Windows 10 Microsoft has swung to the other extreme–paternalism–and disallows power-users from making their own choices. And that's why I'm sad to say I'm holding off on Windows 7. I hope Microsoft discontinues forced restarts for updates by 2020, because I just can't work with Windows 10 when it'll quit everything I have open–not all of which can be restored like Chrome. (And even Chrome will just restore the webpages, but not text you enter into their fields. I remember when I did online college with multiple courses I'd have dozens of open Chrome tabs and discussion threads and sometimes I'd draft responses into Chrome itself. Windows 10 would obliterate all that unsaved work because of it deciding that the monthly update can't be applied when I decide to restart the computer a few days later. No, Microsoft wants the computer restarted right away!) This is an extreme that even Apple and Google OSs don't apply and Microsoft's the last company I'd have imagined doing so, so I hope they move away from that extreme and adopt a middle ground returning autonomy to individual power users.

              • offTheRecord

                In reply to Informed:

                Exactly, and as a Windows 10 Pro user, I would expect to have much more control over these things (like we used to have in prior Pro versions). Obviously, Microsoft doesn't see it that way.

                If Windows would properly save state when it updates, then many of these issues for me would be moot. I haven't looked recently, but when I looked in the past I never really found a Windows product that would give me that kind of functionality.

      • MikeGalos

        In reply to dontbe_evil:

        To be fair, in this case Apple DID adopt PART of the standard although they did do some implementation that's not part of the standard.

  2. MikeGalos

    It's worth noting that HEIF is an MPEG standard and part of MPEG-H (which is also an ISO standard). It's also worth noting that it's a container spec and still can require licensing for the internal storage format of the data inside the HEIF container and that compatibility in HEIF files depends not just on the HEIF container but on the internal storage formats and the codecs used.

  3. RonH

    I wish DNG was more of a standard

  4. Informed

    Currently it's JPG photos that appear both when manually transferring (via USB) from iOS 11 device to Windows as well as when uploading from iOS 11 to Google Drive (from quick Googling, see for example ). With HEIF support on Windows 10 does it mean that it's no longer JPGs that are transferred to the PC? And will the effect be different depending on whether in iOS Settings for Photos "Automatic" or "Keep Originals" is selected for TRANSFER TO MAC OR PC?

    (Personally I prefer HEIF on the phone to save space where it's limited, but JPG upon transfer to PC for maximum compatibility since HDD space is abundant.)

  5. Thomas Parkison

    Good because JPEG, especially when you turn up the compression, makes an image look like crap. HEIF is far better at compression while preserving image quality.

  6. rossdelliott

    Hopefully this means that web browsers and other applications will be able to leverage the OS support for HEIF without having to worry about licensing it. Adobe already does this with Photoshop on Mac, but there is no support for it on Windows because Adobe will not pay to license to it.

  7. Dan1986ist

    Besides the Microsoft Photos app, I wonder which other photo applications will support HEIF depending on the licensing and that stuff.