Announcing Windows Live Photo Gallery

Announcing Windows Live Photo Gallery

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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.

42 Comments
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  • Every Windows Live Product is fantastic. Is it possible that Windows live photo gallery has bidirectional integration with online albums (or just skydrive)?. I'm dying for this feature. It can be a huge step and can attract many users. There is only one direction (Publish to online albums). But dowload online album or sync online album should be also there. It can be restricted to only SkyDrive. But sync should be there. What I am trying to say is If I sync my albums to online storage through Gallery and reinstall my windows and live essentials, the albums are there on my system through sync, and they can also availaible to my systems/devices. It needs same functionality as Live Mesh.

  • I now have both Windows Photo Gallery as well as Windows Live Photo Gallery, is there any way to remove (uninstall)Windows Photo Gallery? I thought installation of Windows Live Photo Gallery will be on top of Windows Photo Gallery.  

  • Duane Duane
    52463 Posts

    HI. I use Kodak Easyshare and Live Photo Gallery. I update and edit in Live then use other options in Kodak that I like. IE: I update my file names and folders in Live and then they are updated in the Kodak software. They seem to work well while they're both open. Is this meant to be or should i be using only one program at once. Thank You.

  • Is there an API into the Live Photo Gallery database such that a client can retrieve data from it? I would expect MS to follow the same model they always have, for example using MAPI to get at Exchange data.

  • I've been looking hard at Windows Live Photo Gallery and Picasa, the problems of organizing photos, and the possibilities for getting more from my photos. I'm particularly impressed with WLPG's advantages for getting my photos organized.

    Bottom line:  I wrote some screencast tutorials on each of these programs. They take you through the programs' feature sets, with some emphasis on how they differentiate themselves. I set up the face-off here:  

    http://mainstream-guides.com/picasaVsWLPG">http://mainstream-guides.com/picasaVsWLPG

    You need to do a quick, free registration to see the longer tutorials:

    WLPG: http://mainstream-guides.com/WLPG

    PICASA: http://mainstream-guides.com/picasa

  • Reda
    1 Posts

    Really great application!!! Very Impressed! Few things:

    Documentation is really basic (official help, blog and everything)

    Roadmap on todo list: face regnonition, geotagging if any

    Wanted to know (hoping that someone will reply)

    * is rotation really lossless (just to confirm it 100% sorry)?

    * Really disappointed that the original is created as duplicate and saved in a completely unrelated folder (a subfolder would have been better like in picasa). Even better, it would have been nice to save the modifications in the metadata like in lightroom... if we could get this in the future, it would be great

    * Clear explanations on when existing exif data might not be read

    * it would have been nice to have "//" instead of "/" as a separator in tags.

    * Clear explanation on where the database is kept and what could be potential problems (i.e. if I modify an imported picture outside, is the change picked by WPG?)

    * Starting the slideshow is really slow. It would be nice also to get irfanview speeds when opening files from explorer. Currenty, that is also very very slow (Vista, Dual-Core Proc. T2130,1Gb Ram)

    * Have the possibility to import from folder in the import from "camera or scanner window". Sometimes, I put my pictures on an external hard drive and it's very difficult to import from there (need to copy back to memory! ;-(

    Possibility to change the background color to a dark theme like in lightroom.

    All in all however, I'm impressed! Thank you Microsoft

  • Jeffc
    1 Posts

    This is probably a little off topic since it pertains only to Vista's Windows Photo Gallery, but I don't see a better place to post it, and I would have to guess it applies to the Live version too.

    Wikipedia alleges that Windows Photo Gallery does do lossless rotation.  My own experiments don't conclusively show this.  After rotating an image with Windows Photo Gallery, then opening the original and the rotated image with Photoshop CS2(Photoshop automatically opens the original in its correct orientation), I select all of the rotated copy and paste it into a new layer above the original.  Right-click on the new layer, select "Blending Options..." and change the "Blend Mode" to "Difference".  The image now turns black.  I flatten the image, then go to the Image menu, Adjustments, Brightness/Contrast, and move the Contrast to +99.  The result is an exageration of the differences between the images, which, while not visible at zero contrast, are now clearly visible.  By contrast, if I start with the original, and copy and paste that into a second layer, perform the same difference/flatten/contrast adjustment, the result is still 100% black even at +99 contrast.

    I don't think this necessarily proves anything one way or another. The differences are so small, I think they must be computational error in either Photoshop or Windows Photo Gallery.  It does make me wonder though.

  • Help this is the first time on here so I hope I am doing this correct.

    I have a problem with pictures on my screensaver, when I first had vista I was able to use my pictures (picked randomly) for my screensaver and it would be full screen for each picture, for some unknown reason now the pictures are coming in at various sizes and some are real small. Any ideas help or whatever would greatly be appreciated.

  • What an amazing job you guys have done on the product.  Kudos and thank you from the bottom of my heart for such a great tool.

    Having said that, there's always room for improvement so here's my wish list. :)

    1. I want to use the Fix tools so bad, but I just can't bring myself to do it when I see my beautiful 3MB jpeg images getting saved after editing with a new file size under 1.5MB.  I'd love an option so I can set the compression, or at the very least just keep the compression at the same level.

    2. Many of my pictures have information in the Comments attribute.  I'd love to see this displayed with the picture along with the author.

    3. When displaying a single photo, I'd love one more line for displaying long titles.

    4. Face recognition would be cool, but not crtical.

    The only critical request is better control of the jpeg save compression.  Without this the Fix tools are off limits for me.

    Again, great job.  You guys are knocking this one out of the park IMHO.  Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.

  • Im not particularly impressed with this program it looks great with just a few sample photos and a neat little tag list to click on. That tag list isnt quite so little and neat when you finished tagging 4000 photos in fact its down right huge and not the simplest of tasks to trawl through that list to select the photos you want. The answer to this seemed to be the option to nest tags inside each other for instance my collection of classic car photos i nested their tags: Make/Model/Year/Color this shortens the list considerably but it has a side effect, the search no longer detects any of the tags that are nested. what is the point of being able to nest tags when the search no longer finds any tags that are nested ?

  • Correct me if I'm wrong, but you may have used WLPG to import your pictures from the camera? In that case, I noticed a setting to automatically rotate pictues.

    However, I am talking about the thousands of photos I have already got stored on my hard drive, all of them with perfectly usable EXIF orientation information.

    To add another gripe - why does Vista's built in photo screensaver not use the EXIF info either? It's very frustrating.

    Sorry to whinge and moan at you - although it's just nice to have someone to vent my frustrations on.

    An update to my post about the tags - I just did some testing, it appears that it's only videos that have not carried the tag settings to the new version. Another bug!

  • kev_gordon, using my PowerShot SD750 I took several photos in a variety of views and rotations. I was able to get the final release of Windows Live Photo Gallery to automatically rotate photos.

    I am investigating this issue in regards to automatic rotation and EXIF right now. Let me post back in a bit.

    - Brandon

  • Oh and another thing....

    This new version of Windows Live Photo Gallery does not pick up all the tags that are in use in my Windows Photo Gallery. Why is this.

    Uninstall... uninstall.... uninstall!

  • *** STILL no automatic picture rotation based on the EXIF information?!? ***

    For ******** sake! How utterly disappointed and peed off am I?

    Despite the suggestion I made, and many others agreed with (including Brandon) - there is STILL no automatic picture rotation based on the EXIF information.

    So the latest and greatest Photo tool from Microsoft still leaves us having to twist our heads 90 degrees to view photos.

    This really sucks. It's such a basic thing, I just cannot believe the stupidity of the situation that it has not been implemented.

    Because of this, I'm sticking with ACDSee Photo Manager, and have just purchased version 10.

    I'm so annoyed, because I like WPG. God, I'm soooooooo annoyed.

  • I never thought I would say this, but here goes: Thank you Microsoft!

    Windows Live Photo Gallery is exactly what I have been waiting for - for years!

    I will now retire Picasa, Adobe Photoshop Elements, ACDSee, iTag and Kodak Easyshare Software - the entire software stack I have been using trying to get the experience you now offer for free in Windows Live Photo Gallary.

    With this compliment in mind - and this is an extraordinary one - I have a couple of wishes that I hope you can look at:

    1. Respect the orientation tag in photos - displaying them correctly, without having to rotate.

    2. Somehow display JPEG Comments stored in the files and/ or IPTC Comments. I have thousands of photos with comments that I can no longer see in WLP.

    3. Nested tags are great - however not easy to find. What I would like, is that WLP suggests excisting tags without having to type the whole nested tag. E.g: Looking for tag "Hanne". Now I have to type "Persons/Family/Hanne". I would like WLP to suggest all instances of the tag "Hanne" when I start to type "Ha...".

    4. Face recognition - face tagging a la Photoshop Elements 6. Already miss it.

    5. GeoTagging - a la Photoshop Elements 6. Already miss it. And please do not fall into the "lock in" trap. Please support all available tools, including your own. Hint taken?

    6. Lossless JPEG-operations. Please confirm and ensure that all basic JPEG-operations, like rotate, flip, CROP are lossless and not subject to recompression. Please implement LOSSLESS red-eye removal as well - it's done by removing red pixels. Look to BetterJPEG and Red-E-Rem for implementation tips.

    7. Classification (stars) should be on the left sidebar, as in MS Digital Image Suite, in order to be able to drill down.

    This from the top of my head - get this implemented, and I'll promise to write a killerstory on my blog and be nice for the rest of my life:-)

    Bjørn Tore Hoem

    bthoem@gmail.com

  • Great Stuff, all this Vista functionality available now under XP through Live services.

    Infact the only thing I didnt like was the fact that Windows Live Desktop search was installed as part of the installer, and I dont really like my HD being indexed.  Live Photo Gallery is great, a must for XP users.

  • alenas
    1 Posts

    I made suggestion to Vista team about EXIF auto-rotation a year ago - they said - source is closed - no more new features...I hope they will deliver at last. I use Picasa just because it uses EXIF properly.

  • mollyfud
    11 Posts

    Can you add my vote to the Flickr Uploader request. I know in theory they are the competition but in reality there is no competition!

    Molly

  • sharon
    1 Posts

    why is it that when I am sent a email such as a form or pictures, it opens the photo gallery with the words "your photo gallery needs to be upgraded, and I can't open it. I sure do need help. I have windows vista, until then I had no problems... sharon

  • Reg. post by kev_gordon,

    man, i agree 100%. this sucks!! How hard is it to use EXIF data and rotate my pictures? My old canon camera came with canon's own photo browser, I guess it is a 5-7 year old software. It can automatically rotate all my pictures nicely. Why photo gallery in Vista can't do this? It should be a basic feature of any photo manager.

  • jd2066
    6 Posts

    @SamC1931: For pictures the tags and ratings should be stored in the file. A blog entry about it is at: http://blogs.msdn.com/pix/archive/2006/08/16/702780.aspx

    As for how the video tags and ratings are stored, I'm not sure. So far Vista won't let me tag my .MOV video files.

    Justin

  • I am impressed with WPG. Where are the Tags, and Ratings stored.  I am moving all my photos and videos to my Windows Home Server. Photos alone are pushing 30GBytes.  Is there a way to view, and organize the repository from mutiple computers on the LAN?  

    Thanks ...Sam

  • I just started using WPG, and a few limitations strike me.

    First, I can tag away, but it doesn't help with organizing the pictures folder.  A lot of people probably have thousands of photos, all with cryptic names like DSC22143.

    A way to fix this would be to adopt a "roll of film"/album paradigm, where the pictures folder is broken down into folders, one folder per roll/album, and then images inside those folders are renamed according to their metadata.

    Part of this would be in addition to having the tagging feature, would be to have special tags, with meaning rather than just regular tags.  examples could be "Location", "Date" "Subject(S)".

    This would increase the value of the metadata from just something that is useful for searching, to something that can be used and has meaning.

    Secondly, it has video's merged in with the photos.  This irritates me immensely, as I don't particularly want to have last nights tv up for tagging.

    Everything i've suggested is available in mediaplayer when dealing with music; renaming and filing according to meaningful metadata, filtering by media type.

  • PeterQ
    2 Posts

    I'd like to echo comments by radeldudel and suggest that there's a real opportunity to go beyond the generation set feature in Adobe Photoshop Elements. What I would like is a true hierarchical dependency tree for my photos, operating very much like a source code control system. If I clip a headshot from a JPG which was derived from a CR2 file, maintain that information for me (and maybe virtualize the headshot on demand from the clipping rectangle info even when accessed via a URL.) One benefit of this approach is that each derived photo inherits the geotags, copyright and origin info, but adds addiional info about subsequent authors, intended use, etc. Another benefit is reduced storage. The same concept should apply to soundscapes built from sampled sounds, but that's a discussion for another blog.

  • I wonder if anyone at the windows photografie division group really is using RAW:(

    If someone is, I'd really like an example how they work with RAW files and the codec, since for me these codes are less than useless, they are creating more work than solving (so I uninstalled them).

    To explain: The RAW file is my unchanging original, but since viewing RAW files is way too slow to be usable, and since I can't print them, can't use them in websites, can't do anything useful other than making a great looking JPG from them, I always got a JPG with the same name next to the RAW file.

    This JPG I see in the windows foto gallery, this JPG I add my tags, comments, rating.

    And all of this is lost whenever I create the JPG from the RAW anew.

    A real PITA!

    I need a way to get my tags, rating, title from JPG to the corresponding RAW, and I need SilkyPix to put all these into the JPG whenever I create it. And I can see no way of achieving this using the RAW codec, it only got the effect that I see every picture two times, have to tag every picture two times, or have to get rid of them in some way.

    There must be a better way!!

  • jd2066
    6 Posts

    Hi,

    First why are programs like Windows Live Mail and this one being released as seperate programs instead of as updates though Windows Update?

    and why do these two programs support Windows XP? It seems to me that the more programs like this you release supporting Windows XP the less reason people have to upgrade to Windows Vista. Not that I want to upgrade to Vista just for Mail and Photo programs, it just seems like a odd business move.

    Second one feature I would like to see in Photo Gallery is treating videos the same as photos in regards to viewing. I.E When double clicking a video open it in Photo Gallery and in Photo Gallery have the prev/next buttons open the next video/picture.

  • someone
    156 Posts

    Please convey this to the respective team:

    1. Most competing applications have export capabilities. The ability to export to formats supported by Windows Imaging Component would be awesome. Being able to export/create HD Photo files on Windows XP would be the true bliss. Btw, does this app install the Photo Gallery Viewer on XP?

    2. Flickr is the YouTube of photo sharing, so MS might as well support it as an exception.

  • Bryan, how Windows Live Photo Gallery will be distributed has yet to be announced. However I'm told several members of the Windows Live Photo Gallery team are peaking at the comments on this post so your feedback is being heard.

    tino, Windows Live Mail is called "Windows Live Mail" because its main purpose, while able to let you use Gmail and POP3, is to allow users to sync their mail up with Windows Live Hotmail. The "Windows Live" branding implies connection with the Windows Live services.

    kev_gordon, great feedback! I didn't even think of that until now.

    - Brandon

  • Bryan
    13 Posts

    Will the final version of Windows Live Photo Gallery be distributed to Vista as an update to Windows Photo Gallery, or will Vista users have to actively download it as an alternate program? If the latter is true then I think you will severely stunt your install base. Typical users won't actively download a substitute to replace a default program on their machine.

  • For me, the biggest single improvement that Microsoft could make to both Vista's Windows Photo Gallery, and this new live one is to make pictures auto-rotate using the cameras exif orientation settings. If I take a picture in portrait mode, then it should display as such.

    Because it doesnt, I am forced to use ACDSee Photo Manager, which does it.

    If this feature was added, I would ditch ACDSee and use the Windows Photo Gallery, as I really like it for all the other features.

    Please Microsoft, take this suggestion seriously, and implement it!

  • Beau
    2 Posts

    Definetly looking forward to this on XP SP2 =)

  • tN0
    41 Posts

    oh I forgot: Windows Explorer must have an integration of Life Drive as a simple virtual Folder/Drive.

  • tN0
    41 Posts

    @Brandon: Imagine the next Halo game would be called "Halo Live" because one could play it online via Xbox Live. It doen't make much sense to me to name a software "Live". Why is the new mail client called "Windows Live Mail" if I only use a gmail accound for example?

    I dream of a simple Live integration just like on the Xbox: create a Control Panel section for Windows Live where we can enable multiple Windows (and Office) apps to integrate Windows Live functionality. Windows Mail gets Live Hotmail & Live Spaces (RSS) and Live Maps (addresses); Windows Gallery gets Live Spaces & Live Maps for geotags; Windows Media Player and Media Center gets a connection to Windows Live Media for sharing videos (soapbox?) and music (to the Zune?) and Windows Sidebar gets a connection to Windows Live Gadgets. Even the start menu should get a Windows Live Search plugin ("Start++" ?) and the Windows Games Explorer it's own Live integration to play games with Xbox users.

    But maybe its just my dream of what Windows Live should be ;)

  • For anyone on the Live Team actually listening, I second the idea of a plug-in system similar to Live Writer.  The ability to add flickr syncing/uploading/tagging would turn Live Photo Gallery into an amazing tool.

    The ability to see outside the Live Spaces property for storage would really set this product apart, actually acknowledging that people like to store their data at different locations, and their not always Microsoft properties.

  • ScaleOverStove, I'm unsure of any of the Windows Live Photo Gallery Team's future plans however I know they are taking in ALL feedback on the product - so I am sure they are looking at your suggestion very seriously.

  • is there any plans for extensibility/plugins like windows live writer? A flickr uploader option would be nice, or any other online photo service.

  • ryanwagner, this is a feature I really hope to see in the final release myself!

    tino, the reason why this is under the Windows Live brand is because unlike Windows Photo Gallery, Windows Live Photo Gallery will tie into the Windows Live services as software+services. While you may think the Windows Live naming is confusing now, expect to see a more clear definition of Windows Live and its apps and services as we head into the summer. Windows Live will be adding to the Windows Vista user experience just as Xbox Live adds to the Xbox 360 user experience with games.

    Parm, Windows Live Photo Gallery currently only syncs with Windows Live Spaces for photo publishing at this time.

    And BenOsbourne - that is a REALLY great idea.

    - Brandon

  • One thing that I think the Photo Gallery is still missing is the ability to resize a photo. I should be able to choose the exact size that I want (in pixels or inches) and choose whether I want it to maintain the proportionality. I'm still in awe that the photo gallery doesn't offer this option.

  • One feature I think you guys should really look into adding is a way to geotag photos via Live Maps/Virtual Earth.  Picasa allows geotagging via Google Earth, but it's not implemented very well, and it does not store the geoinfo in the images' EXIF.  With the high resolution aerial photographs of Live Maps, you could create the premiere geotagging solution.

  • n4cer
    13 Posts

    "Windows Live Photo Gallery is available for users of Windows Vista (of course!) and Windows XP SP2."

  • tN0
    41 Posts

    Will it also be available for Windows XP? If not why don't they simply put the new functionality in a Windows Photo Gallery update (maybe with SP1 for Vista). All the Windows and Windows Live products start to confuse users. So, please keep it simple or Google will win this war. My suggest: only name the services "Windows Live ..." like on Xbox. Call the programs always Windows Mail/Messenger/Gallery....

  • Parm
    10 Posts

    With this new Windows Live Photo Gallery, will it be possible to sync with other online photo albums such as Flickr or Picassa or will it be locked to Windows Live Spaces?

    Flickr integration would make this a truly great and popular app!