Canon will support Microsoft's new Media Transfer Protocol (MTP) in its future digital camera products, a major boost for Microsoft as it tries to win industry support for its new synchronization protocol.

MTP promises to make transferring data from portable devices to Windows-based PCs simpler and faster. The protocol builds on the Picture Transfer Protocol (PTP) standard, which was established by the International Imaging Industry Association. Microsoft has supported PTP since the release of Windows Millennium Edition in 2000.

Microsoft has extended PTP to cover more than just digital cameras. The protocol can also be used to transfer data between a Windows PC and devices such as portable media players and mobile phones, said David McLauchlan, a program manager in Microsoft's portable devices group.

In addition to supporting MTP for common USB (Universal Serial Bus) links between digital cameras and PCs, Canon will also support MTP over IP for future wireless digital cameras, according to Microsoft. MTP over IP offers the same experience as MTP, but allows devices to connect to PCs using wireless or wired IP networking.

When connecting a camera that supports MTP to a PC, Windows will quickly show a thumbnail index of pictures on the cameras and allow users to transfer images. Building the index page will go faster than when using PTP, according to Microsoft.

While Canon is the first digital camera maker to announce support for MTP, other hardware makers already have adopted the protocol, McLauchlan said. For example, the Microsoft-based media players called Portable Media Centers that are hitting stores now use MTP for synchronization with Windows XP PCs, he said. Vendors offering Portable Media Centers include Creative Technology and Samsung.

Microsoft's first product to support MTP is Windows Media Player 10, released earlier this month. The new version of Windows Media Player works with the Portable Media Centers and is also part of a new version of Windows XP Media Center Edition, which is expected to be announced on October 12.

Microsoft plans to submit MTP to the USB Implementers Forum for consideration as a standard, McLauchlan said. Microsoft will also make the specification available at no charge and it should be available for download in a week or so, he said.