What to do with 57 billion photos

What to do with 57 billion photos

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A look at trends in photos and videos

A lot has changed in the three years since we launched the first Windows Live Photo Gallery. For starters, there are a lot more people taking photos. About 10 billion more photos will be taken in the US in 2010 than in 2007—rising from about 47 billion to 57 billion photos.

That’s a decent jump in three years, but it’s nothing compared to the number of pictures taken with mobile phones, which will double from 8 billion to just over 16 billion this year. Built-in mobile phone cameras just keep getting better. In 2007 the average mobile phone camera was one megapixel—now it’s two or more. By 2014, it’s estimated to be at least five megapixels. As our phones keep getting better, we expect ever more photos to be taken on them. After all, the best camera you own is the one you have with you! (Source: Infotrends, 2009)

Video is becoming the new photo

Many cameras (and mobile phones) make it just as easy to shoot a video as snap a still image. More and more people take photos AND videos with the same device. These videos are not so much "movies," but 30-second clips, or what we like to call "long photos" that capture action and movement.

Because videos are typically taken in conjunction with a number of photos, it makes sense to treat them as the same thing. After all, they are part of the same memory. But keeping track of all of these photos and videos is hard – and getting harder with every picture or video we take.

People often save or share quick videos just as they are, because they don’t know how to edit them, or lack the right tools. But with Windows Live Movie Maker, you can easily combine several videos and photos for a more complete expression of your memories. Just drag and drop a bunch of photos and videos into Movie Maker and voilá…an instant movie. You can even add a sound track, and Movie Maker syncs it up with your movie. 


The kind of movies you can make in a few seconds with Movie Maker would take hours on most video editing software.

But there is still work to be done to improve our photo and video products. As we visit with customers, we see and hear the daily struggles people have organizing and sharing their photos and videos. As one woman we interviewed said:

"I took a hundred pictures at my daughter's birthday party, but I only want to send a few to my family. Picking the best photos, saving, and sharing them is hard."

We've also noticed that although the prevailing way to organize photos is by date or event, people still tend to use their most familiar search tool – their eyeballs – to find photos they're looking for.

Helping you look good. And fast.

I’m not a great photographer or videographer. But I do know enough about cameras and high-end photo and video software to know it can take a lot of time and talent to get them to make photos and videos look great. But with the auto-correct features in Photo Gallery, it’s easy to take that not-so-perfect shot and turn it into a real gem. It’s really pretty amazing what Photo Gallery can do. Awhile back I took a really dark photo a friend sent me from his phone, brought it into Photo Gallery, made a few tweaks and sent it back. My friend thinks I’m some kind of magician. It's a little like Kylie in those TV ads last year. Photo Gallery and Movie Maker are great at making us all look more talented than we really are!

Seriously, just imagine how hard (or expensive) it would be to piece together a panoramic image from a bunch of individual photos. But check out this panorama that a friend of mine made using Photo Gallery. Pretty amazing.

Panoramic image of snowy mountains

Image courtesy of Mike Morrison            

And really easy. You just select a bunch of photos, click a button, and Photo Gallery does the rest. Even though Photo Gallery and Movie Maker are here to help you out, by all means, take the credit. We really do want you to look good to your friends and family.

All those memories, waiting to be shared

Sharing memories, if you hadn't heard already, is enjoying explosive growth these days. Facebook is far and away the biggest keeper of digital memories on the web today. Facebook claimed to have 1.7 billion photos on their site in 2007, and Tech Crunch estimated that number went up to about 10 billion in 2009.

Even with this explosion of photo sharing on social networking sites, sending photos by email remains the most popular way people share their memories. Features like PhotoMail in Windows Live Mail allow your friends and family to view your emailed photos in an online slide show and download the ones they want —make them easier to send – and much nicer to view. And if you are someone who wants to expand beyond photo captions and tell a story with your photos, you may want to try out Windows Live Writer, the perennial favorite software for bloggers. Writer makes it simple to post photo albums to a blog, and make them look great, plus it works with all the major blog providers. For example, our team used Writer to create this photo blog on Wordpress.  

Most of us use a variety of means to share our memories. This is why we wanted to make sure that Photo Gallery, Movie Maker, and Writer support not just Microsoft software and services like Hotmail, Windows Live Mail, Messenger and Windows Live Photos, but also non-Microsoft services like Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube. Photo Gallery and Movie Maker also support more traditional ways of sharing memories, like burning a CD or DVD. This way of sharing has actually grown in popularity by 7% in the last three years, according to Infotrends. Sharing memories by gathering friends and family around the screen is growing in popularity as well. With more and more connected TVs and larger screens, the viewing experience is even more enjoyable.

These trends remind us that even with tens of billions of photos being stored on social networking and photo sharing sites, there are hundreds of billions more photos and videos sitting on hard drives around the world. Infotrends reports as many as 210 billion photos on PC hard drives in the US alone. As much as we like to share, there’s something comforting about keeping your memories close to home too. If you’re lucky enough to have more than one computer, Windows Live Sync can help you synchronize your photos (and other files) across multiple computers.

So, whatever your preferred method of storing and sharing your digital memories, we're doing our best to make tools that simplify things for you. After all, memories are meant to be preserved and shared.

Just wait. It’s only getting better.

All of us here on the Microsoft Digital Memories Experience team take your digital memories pretty seriously. Consequently, we work tirelessly to make the products we develop that much better, while tackling some of the hardest problems people face in saving, editing, organizing, and sharing their memories.

We all capture images with one goal in mind: putting a smile on the faces of the people we care about most. In future posts, I’ll dig into the details of how we intend to do just that.

Brad Weed
Group Program Manager
Digital Memories Experience
Windows Live

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  • Don't listen to them, end support for XP asap. We don't need anything so outdated to be floating around. You're already spending too much resources on supporting old platforms. Win7 is good enough to completely replace XP.

  • kio_http
    26 Posts

    For does of you who have billions of photo and don't feel like investing in Windows Vista (Nt 6.0) or its minor update rollup Windows 7 (NT 6.1) use google picassa to get this functionality.

  • kio_http
    26 Posts

    If you want to dispose xp. Just make it open source and end support. The community will take better care of it than Microsoft.

    Why is it that many "Unsupported" programs for xp have workarrounds to install them?

  • someone
    156 Posts

    60% of those 57 million are XP users = 35 million. And you are just dumping WLPG support for 35 million users' photos?

  • anonymuos
    87 Posts

    Picasa, ACDsee, Expression Media all run on XP. Please don't drop XP support for WLPG.

  • We want more space on SKyDirve :(

    Please make it more...

    Why there is no XP support for WLPG wave 4// :(

    SAD :S :S

  • thljcl
    7 Posts

    I'm still waiting Microsoft to provide more storage to SkyDrive users for free. 25GB is a good start. But we want more!

  • 7flavor
    352 Posts

    Too bad WLPG Wave 4 will no longer support XP. I've switched to Picasa. WLPG bugs I reported ever since WLPG debuted have not been fixed for years even in Wave 3. If you care, please support Messenger, Mail, Writer, Family Safety and WLPG on XP.