For those of you who find not being able to preview RAW format images in Windows to be quite annoying, then be relieved to know that Microsoft has finally addressed the issue. You will now be able to preview and edit them natively in Windows. The software giant released a codec pack for Windows 7 and Vista that will bring support for RAW format image viewing to the Windows Photo Gallery and Windows Explorer.
RAW image formats are commonly used by DSLR camera enthusiasts because it preserves all the original uncompressed data and pixels recorded by camera sensors, providing finer control over the quality of the image. But up until now, users have had to rely on third-party software such as Adobe Bridge to preview these images, making it more of a hassle to work with RAW formats.
The codec released today will bring support for more than 120 cameras to the Windows Live Photo Gallery 2011 as well as Windows Explorer for previewing. Editing of the raw images can be performed in Photo Gallery, where any edited image will not save over the original RAW file, but will instead be saved as a separate JPEG or JPEG-XR format file. You can check to see if your camera is supported by this codec and download either the 32-bit or 64-bit versions at the Microsoft Download Center.