Windows Vista and Windows 7 comes with Windows Imaging Component(WIC) which supports many default image formats such as jpeg, bmp, png, gif, tiff and HD Photo and allows 3rd party manufacturers to integrate more image formats. Before we begin, let me elaborate it for those who are new to this concept.
Every Camera manufacturer has their own raw image format, for e.g, Canon Raw Image formats are .cr2 and .crw, Fuji Raw Image format is .raf, Olympus Raw Image format is .orf, and so on.
Now suppose you took a photo and it is saved in .rw2 format(Panasonic Raw Image), if you click it in Windows Explorer you will not see the thumbnail. If you view slideshow using Windows Live Photo Gallery or Windows 7 Media Center, you will not be able to see the image. It is because Windows does not support this image format by default. This is exactly where image codec packs come in which help integrate additional image formats in Windows. Thus in a way your Windows Explorer also becomes a Raw image viewer.
FastPictureViewer WIC Codec Pack is one such codec pack which contains both 32-bit and 64-bit image decoders for Window 7, Vista, and XP. Once installed, you will be able to see all RAW Image formats loading properly in Windows along with metadata search integration.
So you must be wondering why not install the codecs that come with your Camera since every manufacturer provides the codec along with their cameras? The reason is that some codecs at the moment are not compatible with 64-bit version of Windows 7. Also installing this codec pack will give you additional support including support for Raster Image Formats(.tga and .tpic formats).
This codec pack requires system restart in order to complete the installation. Have a look at previously covered DivX Tech Preview codec pack too that adds support of MKV video format in Windows 7. Enjoy!