Imx Fix in my experience
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June 17, 2003 10:00 AM

C|Net asks, is the "Bell tolling for PNG graphics format?"

I don't think so, because it's already dead due to weak and incomplete support in Internet Explorer. I've speculated before that the support for PNG's 8 bit alpha mask was intentionally left in a broken state by MSFT to placate or otherwise help out Unisys who owns the LWZ patent that the GIF file format is based on.

To recap, Unisys owns the LWZ patent. MSFT and Unisys have a deal where they try to sell people on the idea that linux/u*nix is bad for their business. They are probably aiming this at Sun and IBM, but the fact that they are in bed together fuels my conspiracy theory that PNG has been stifled on purpose.

The LWZ patent expires on Friday, making it cheaper for applications makers to support LWZ (in Photoshop for example). But this doesn't really mean much, because GIF still has 1 bit alpha masking, and requires us to deal with anti-aliasing manually. PNG is still compelling technology, even if C|Net thinks otherwise, but it will always be stillborn if MSIE doesn't fully support it (and I know there's a hack to get it working right, but hacks are a "significant barrier to entry").