I personally believe that you were very kind to let me know. But at the same time I must say that I have actually tested it several times (well, three files, actually) under Windows and it worked as expected: was I just lucky?
So... I used open because it seemed the quickest and cleanest WTDI, but what do you propose as a workaround or solution? (Short of manually open()ing the files of course...)
Update: I just actually checked with one single jpeg image and found an actual example that supports your claim. Incidentally, I would say that open.pm's docs do not make it clear enough that it won't work with <>.