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Windows 8 apps vs. WIC codecs

PostPosted: Fri Jul 12, 2013 12:24 am
by HotShot
Hello there,

I installed the FPV Codec Pack (only its DNG codec, actually) under Windows 8 x64 with success, and all works well so far in Desktop mode (e.g. previews in explorer, opening in Windows' Photo Explorer...). However, "Modern UI" apps fail at opening the very same DNG files. After deinstalling the FPV Codec Pack, I gave Adobe's own DNG codec a try, with the same negative result.

Still, RW2 raw files display fine in these Modern UI apps, relying on Microsoft's default "Camera Codec Pack".

I'm wondering whether there's something basically broken - and hopefully fixable - in third-party codecs, or if MS changed its "WIC" infrastructure with this new OS, precluding other codecs from using these new apps. Or... probably a bit of both. I asked at Technet forums, and got a weird reply: "it's by design". :shock:

Any insights into this matter ?

Cheers and keep up the good work :)

Re: Windows 8 apps vs. WIC codecs

PostPosted: Fri Jul 12, 2013 9:31 pm
by Axel
As of Windows 8 and 8.1 at least, non-Microsoft image codecs are prevented from loading. The desktop side of things (all existing Win32 applications) is not affected.

The answer you got on TechNet is correct: this is indeed by design, only Microsoft codecs are allowed in the Modern aka Metro world. All WIC codecs would technically work, there is nothing intrinsically different, this is just a policy which required explicit work to implement.

Apparently, non-Microsoft components like read-only image decoders - even signed with VeriSign Class 3 code-signing certificates, which are good for signing kernel drivers - are not trusted enough for user-mode, sandboxed Modern/Metro.

Go figure!

Of course this basically annihilate the work of all other codec producers. Not just small guys like us: think about 1st parties like Nikon, Canon and Adobe, which arguably provide the best full RAW conversion for their respective formats, Google for WebP and 3rd parties like LeadTOOLS, Ardfry and others...

Modern Windows will either lag behind Apple OS X forever in image formats support, or Microsoft will eventually rewrite all the codecs in the world and catch up, or they will remove this policy and let 1st and 3rd parties do what they do best: enhance the platform like they always did and support its growth by providing users with what they need.

Time will tell 8-)

Be assured I'd be the first to push for openness if anyone ever asks for my opinion.

Re: Windows 8 apps vs. WIC codecs

PostPosted: Sat Jul 13, 2013 2:28 am
by HotShot
Thanks for the insightful reply.

They build some platform only to lock it and leave it to rot slowly. Go figure...
I'll keep yelling as loud as I can on their various forums, who knows... :twisted:

Re: Windows 8 apps vs. WIC codecs

PostPosted: Fri Aug 15, 2014 1:46 am
by HotShot
It looks like Microsoft finally changed how the Windows 8 Apps support WIC Codecs, thanks to this tuesday's updates.

Using Adobe's DNG Codec v2.0, the 'Photos' app can now display DNG files, both in Gallery mode (i.e. as scrollable list of thumbnails) and in Photo mode (= full size preview... even if sluggish decoded).
Therefore, everything now works as expected. But it's damn slow.

However the FastPictureViewer Codec Pack in its latest version still has issues:
- DNG files are definitely listed, but show no mini preview in Gallery mode ;
- upon clicking on these DNG files in the Gallery view, the larger Photo view opens but fails with error ;
- still there's some hope: within the Windows explorer, upon double-clicking on DNG files, they correctly open in full with the Photos app (always fully decoded after a short while, even if the FPV Codec settings should prevent it and rely only on embedded previews).

I suppose it's only a matter of fine tuning your WIC codec. Keep it up :P

Re: Windows 8 apps vs. WIC codecs

PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2014 6:13 am
by Axel
The Microsoft story regarding motern (Windows Store) apps and 3rd-party codecs is not very clear through the various Windows 8 releases and later. The codecs don't really care about who calls them and there is nothing special about the FPV Codec Pack's DNG codec relative to the other FPV codecs. However the Microsoft codec in the Microsoft Camera Codec Pack does support some DNGs (those produced directly by some cameras) and it is most certainly installed on Win8.x as it comes through Windows Update.

The first thing to make sure is that you only have one and only one DNG codec installed, and that it is properly installed: remove the Adobe codec (the slowest of all by a wide margin), the Microsoft one (find it in the "installed updates" section in the Uninstall control-panel applet) and reinstall/repair the FastPictureViewer Codec Pack, making sure everything is installed.

Be sure to observe any reboot that you might be asked to perform during the uninstall/reinstall process, skipping a reboot in-between installs/uninstalls can have unpredictible side effects.

Re: Windows 8 apps vs. WIC codecs

PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2014 1:24 pm
by HotShot
I know these points very well. I've been fighting with MS and Adobe on their support channels for as long as there has been support for DNG and WIC.

The issue is, now, as of august 2014: Adobe DNG Codec works beautifully, where FPV Codec partly fails. So there must be something different between these codecs w.r.t. how they get used, called, whatever by Metro apps.

Tested with clean, up-to-date system (thanks to system images, in case you wonder)

Adobe DNG Codec under W8.1 x64:
- displays thumbs in explorer.exe
- displays full size in Windows Photos Viewer (but slow decoding, no support for embedded preview)
- displays thumbs in Photos W8 App
- displays full size in Photos W8 App (but slow decoding, no support for embedded preview)
Functionality=100% (but slow)

FPV Codec (only DNG installed) under W8.1 x64:
- displays thumbs in explorer.exe
- displays full size (or embedded preview, depending on FPV's setting of choice) in Windows Photos Viewer
- does not displays thumbs in Photos W8 App
- does not display full size in Photos W8 App
- however, may display full size in Photos W8 App if called directly from explorer.exe (i.e. "Open with Photos App")
Functionality=50% (but fast).

Just a FYI, it won't keep me from sleeping at night, I can live with slow DNG decoding. But perhaps should you mention somewhere that your product has incomplete support for W8/W8.1 - before some users buy it and eventually be disappointed. ;)

Re: Windows 8 apps vs. WIC codecs

PostPosted: Wed Aug 27, 2014 6:30 am
by Axel
This is maybe just a licensing issue, it is possible that the codec, when invoked from the Photos App, somehow does not see its registration key. I'll keep an eye on this and see if I can/need to issue a fix. What you could do is verify that the Codec Pack's license key is stored under Local Machine in the registry (where it should be) and not under Current User. The place where to look on a 64-bit machine is HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\ARSD\FastPictureViewer Codec Pack\Registration

Re: Windows 8 apps vs. WIC codecs

PostPosted: Thu Aug 28, 2014 4:42 pm
by HotShot
Well, the registration is stored under HKCU...

I find traces of FPV at four different locations:
[*]HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\ARSD\FastPictureViewer Codec Pack (Install, Registration, codec settings)
[*]HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\ARSD\FastPictureViewer (file assoc capabilities)
[*]HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\ARSD\FastPictureViewer (file assoc capabilities)
[*]HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\ARSD\FastPictureViewer Codec Pack (only one value 'Version')

So, I replicated the tree of keys and values of FPV from HKCU to the existing-but-almost-empty HKLM\Wow6432 node, rebooted: things did not improve, see screenshots below.

Explorer - (ok)
Explorer + Clicking - (ok, shows embedded preview)
Photos App - (thumbnails fail)
Photos App + Clicking - (images fail)

Re: Windows 8 apps vs. WIC codecs

PostPosted: Thu Oct 02, 2014 3:45 pm
by HotShot
problem seems avoided *if* installing FPV Codec Pack after the latest (Dec.2013) MS Camera Raw Codec Pack update.
I performed a fresh Win8.1u1 install, allowing Windows some time to update itself, and only then did I add FPV Codec Pack - things now work as expected.

Windows 8.1 > FPV Codec Pack > MS Camera Raw update = fails
Windows 8.1 > MS Camera Raw update > FPV Codec Pack = works

Re: Windows 8 apps vs. WIC codecs

PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2015 11:33 am
by Axel
Yes the inbox codec tends to take precedence. Install the FPV Codec Pack last and everything should be fine. For Windows 10 (and beyond) the MS Codec is no longer a separate download, so this particular issue should not repro.