Microsoft has released a beta version of a file format plug-in that enables Photoshop to open and save HD Photo files.

HD Photo is Microsoft's attempt to improve on the prevalent JPEG format and is supported within Windows Vista. The company reckons the format delivers superior image compression efficiency than JPEG.

The release includes all the features and user interface changes for the final release, including the installer. The HD Photo plug-in supports a wide range of pixel formats (including high dynamic range, wide gamut formats) and numerous advanced HD Photo features.

HD Photo Photoshop Plug-ins is a 738k download and is available now. Designed for use with Photoshop CS2 and CS 3, the beta times out at the end of December.