The simplicity of the BMP file format, and its widespread familiarity in Windows and elsewhere, as well as the fact that this format is relatively well documented and free of patents, makes it a very common format that image processing programs from many operating systems can read and write.

Many older graphical user interfaces used bitmaps in their built-in graphics subsystems; for example, the Microsoft Windows and OS/2 platforms’ GDI subsystem, where the specific format used is the Windows and OS/2 bitmap file format, usually named with the file extension of .BMP or .DIB.

While most BMP files have a relatively large file size due to lack of any compression (or generally low-ratio run-length encoding on palletized images), many BMP files can be considerably compressed with lossless data compression algorithms such as ZIP because they contain redundant data. Some formats, such as RAR, even include routines specifically targeted at efficient compression of such data.


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