Monday, September 17, 2007

Windows Live Photo Gallery - Almost right

Windows Live Photo Gallery is a digital photo management application that is part of the Windows Live family of services. It is probably an attempt by Microsoft to create a complete and seamless online experience and compete with the likes of Google and Yahoo.


The downloadable installer is a common for other Live applications like Live Mail, Live Writer, Live Messenger etc. and provides the options for selecting the required Live applications. In some ways it is similar to Google Pack except that all the Live applications have a similar look and feel.


The Live Photo Gallery interface is by default divided into 3 vertical panes. The left most pane list the grouping into which the photos are organized. The groupings into which the photos are organized are

  1. Folders
  2. Dates and
  3. Tags

The grouping are not mutually exclusive and the same photo can be accessed through any one of the above groupings. A screen shot of the interface can be found below.


Selecting a photo in the middle pane displays its properties in the left pane and enables the toolbar at the top which provides the options to

  1. Fix -  Make corrections and adjustments to the photo
  2. Info - Displays basic information about the photo in the left pane
  3. Print - Provides options for either printing or uploading to an online provider.
  4. Publish - Support for publishing on Windows Live Spaces or MS Soapbox (for videos only).
  5. Make - Creates a data CD or a panoramic stitch from the selected photos.
  6. Open- Opens the photo using the selected application.

Right clicking on a photo provides the usual selection of options. However, the one option that I found useful was to change the date and time of the selected photo(s).

Photo Import

The import feature of the Live Photo Gallery is one of its distinguishing feature. It groups the photos on the camera by dates. The import properties of each group of photos can be set separately. Hence, in one import session photos can be imported into multiple destination directories and tagged with multiple tags.

The import feature provides the option for automatically rotating photos during the import and deleting the photos from the camera after the imp0rt is complete.


The indexing performance of Live Photo Gallery was pretty fast. In fact it did not seem to be doing any obvious indexing at all. The photos from the directories selected for inclusion seem to just appear when the application is started.


Windows Live Photo Gallery take in isolation as an application is well designed and implemented suited for organizing and light weight editing of photos.

However, photo sharing through Live spaces prevents it from being the perfect application for sharing photos considering the fact that sharing photos through online services has become the primary method of sharing photos with friends and family.

The Live spaces interface for sharing photos is cluttered and I could not find an option to send an email to share a gallery.

However, since the application is still  a beta  I hope Microsoft will improve the online sharing service which would make Windows Live Photo Gallery the perfect application for organizing and sharing photos.