Announcing Windows Live Photo Gallery

Microsoft this evening is announcing the managed beta of Windows Live Photo Gallery – an upgrade to the existing Windows Photo Gallery that currently ships with Windows Vista. This is part of a broader announcement of renewed focus on Software+Services with Windows Live.

Windows Live Photo Gallery includes all of the features of Windows Photo Gallery in Windows Vista – but extends the experience by adding new functionality as well as integration with Windows Live services such as Windows Live Spaces. Here is a list of a few new things you’ll find in the initial beta release of Windows Live Photo Gallery:

  • Improved image editing features like Panoramic stitch, histogram, and sharpen image.
  • Improved tagging and organization including the ability to quickly sort by name, file type, tag or date.
  • Publish photos directly to your photo galleries on Windows Live Spaces.
  • Auto event grouping and tagging when importing photos (and video) from your camera to PC.
  • Improved Photo Import Tool.

The beta being announced today for Windows Live Photo Gallery is only available to a limited group of beta testers and is a closed managed beta at this time. However, Microsoft intends to open the beta up for the public later this summer based on feedback they get from the closed managed beta. Windows Live Photo Gallery is available for users of Windows Vista (of course!) and Windows XP SP2.

I was fortunate enough to be able to have spent a great deal of time with Windows Live Photo Gallery and have it replace the use of Windows Photo Gallery on Windows Vista for me and management of my digital photos.  I’d like to highlight a few improvements that really stand out for me. The biggest of the improvements that I really took notice of was the improvements to the Photo Import Tool.  

The Photo Import Tool groups all photos taken on your digital camera by date and time. The user is now allowed to expand each of those groups and choose specific individual photos they would like to import instead of being forced to import the entire batch of photos (like previously with Windows Photo Gallery).

  

With the new Photo Import Tool, you are also in more control over the naming of the folders of your images and the images themselves on top of adding tags. You can now name your images separate from the tags you choose for the photos.

Users will be happy to know that the RAW image format support that exists in Windows Photo Gallery also carries over into Windows Live Photo Gallery. With my Nikon D40, I have Nikon’s RAW image codec installed and Windows Live Photo Gallery picks up the codec and allows me to import and view these photos (.NEF files).

The next thing was the ability to upload your photos to galleries on Windows Live Spaces. On my Windows Live Space, I have multiple galleries that already exist. Windows Live Photo Gallery allows me to publish photos to my Windows Live Space by either creating a new gallery (which I am free to name whatever I want) or add to existing galleries that are already on my Windows Live Space. Either way – publishing to my Windows Live Space is really easy.

 

I am currently playing around with the improvement to the “photo fix” tools such as panoramic stitch. I am hoping to successfully create a panoramic photo in the near future. I’ll be sure to post it once I get it done.

Here is a look at some improvements made to the fix tools including the Histogram:

These are just a few of the highlights from Windows Live Photo Gallery. I use Windows Live Photo Gallery on all my PC’s for all my digital photo needs. Expect to see more posts on my experience using Windows Live Photo Gallery in the coming weeks.

Be sure to check out the new Q&A on Windows Live with Microsoft Corporate Vice President Chris Jones on this announcement and the continued focus of Software+Services with Windows Live.