I wonder why Raspbian is still using basic zip as a compression tool to distribute the images to user.
I've been doing some research recently on optimizing the set of XZ options for different firmware images and was able to cut down the size of Raspbian from current 1471 MB to 965 MB (actually, 947 MB in best scenario, but in this case decompression takes a lot of RAM). That is why I suggest moving Raspbian to .xz when distributing since almost 0.5 GB would be off the servers and download time would also be a win.
The tools would be no trouble -- Disks on GNOME is able to write to SD from .img.xz which is obviously cool since you don't have to unzip and advanced users are perfectly fine with unxz | dd. On Windows, I worked on a tool similar to Win32DiskImager https://github.com/RomanBelkov/DiskImager which has a couple of features like writing image to a number of SD cards at once and XZ support. I would not say that this tool is totally perfect and I would greatly appreciate any help or advice, but it's worth checking out due to the features.
Here is a draft version of my paper (https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B8XvF ... 0toaFNERGc) so everyone can read it and check out the awesomeness of tuning the XZ to the ultimate.
Looking forward to your opinions,