Windows Imaging Component

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Windows Imaging Component (WIC)
A component of Microsoft Windows
Included with Windows 10
Windows 8
Windows 7
Windows Vista
Windows XP Service Pack 3
.NET Framework 3.0
Related components
Windows Image Acquisition

The Windows Imaging Component (WIC) is a Component Object Model based imaging codec framework introduced in Windows Vista (and later available in Windows XP Service Pack 3)[1] for working with and processing digital images and image metadata. It allows applications supporting the framework to automatically get support of installed codecs for graphics file formats.

It is similar to DirectShow, or ACM/VCM, in that it can be extended using image codecs and can support third-party graphics formats on a system-wide basis. Additionally, Windows Presentation Foundation applications also automatically support the installed image codecs. Codecs for RAW image formats used by high-end professional digital cameras are also supported in this manner.

WIC enables application developers to perform image processing operations on any image format through a single set of common APIs, without requiring prior knowledge of specific image formats. By writing a codec once for WIC, developers can get system-wide support for that graphics file format in all applications that use WIC, .NET 3.x or WPF.


Windows Imaging Component provides an extensible architecture for image codecs, pixel formats, and metadata, with automatic run-time discovery of new formats. It supports reading and writing of arbitrary metadata in image files, with the ability to preserve unrecognized metadata during editing. While working with images, it preserves high bit depth image data, up to 32 bits per channel, throughout the revamped high dynamic range image processing pipeline built into Windows Vista.

Windows Imaging Component supports Windows Color System, the ICC V4-compliant color management technology in Windows Vista.


By default, Windows Vista ships with the JPEG, TIFF, GIF, PNG, BMP and HD Photo encoder and decoder codecs, and an .ICO decoder. Additionally, as of 2009, some camera manufacturers[2] and 3rd-parties[3][4] have released WIC codecs for proprietary raw image formats, enabling Mac-like raw image support to Windows 7 and Vista.[5] In July 2011, this was extended significantly by Microsoft itself by providing a separate Codec Pack for most current digital cameras.[6] The Progressive Graphics File viewer is distributed with a WIC .pgf codec.


WIC supports Exchangeable Image File (Exif), PNG textual metadata, image file directory (IFD), IPTC Information Interchange Model (IPTC), and Extensible Metadata Platform (XMP) formats. In addition, WIC includes an extensible framework to support third-party metadata implementations.

Metadata format support is per codec. For example, the native JPEG codec supports XMP but the native GIF and PNG codecs do not.[7]


WIC in Microsoft products[edit]

WIC is available for Windows XP Service Pack 2 as a stand-alone downloadable program, is built into Windows XP Service Pack 3, or is available as part of .NET Framework 3.0.[8] A PowerToy for Windows XP from Microsoft, known as Photo Info, which allows viewing and editing image metadata from Windows Explorer, also uses WIC.[9]

Starting with Windows Vista, Windows Explorer, and Windows Live Photo Gallery (later renamed Windows Photo Gallery), are based on Windows Imaging Component and can thus view/organize images in any format for which the WIC codecs are installed.

Starting with Windows 7, Windows Media Center (available on Windows 7 Home Premium and above) is WIC-enabled. Also, the GDI+ graphic library, used by many native applications and underneath .NET 2's System.Drawing, is built on top of WIC, although GDI+ will not load 3rd-party or external codecs. With Windows 7 the WIC stack itself underwent a major overhaul and is now free threaded, as are all the built-in and external codecs shipping with the Windows operating system. Being free threaded is also a requirement for new codecs targeting Windows 7.[10]

Microsoft Expression Design's import and export capabilities are entirely based on WIC.[11] Expression Media Service Pack 1 (now Phase One Media Pro) and later also supports additional raw camera formats and HD Photo (now JPEG XR) using WIC.[12][13]

Third-party support[edit]

As of 2007, few third-party imaging applications (image editors, image organizers and image viewers) utilize WIC.

FastPictureViewer, a simple standalone third-party image viewer, supports standard image formats along with HD Photo and RAW camera formats (NRW, NEF, CR2, DNG) using WIC. An experimental WIC import plug-in for Adobe Photoshop can also be found on FastPictureViewer's website.[14]

From version IMatch also supports WIC.


External links[edit]

Available WIC Codecs: