Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

Official blog for the Windows Live Digital Memories Experience team

Media Center Edition and Photos

Media Center Edition and Photos

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Although we talk a a lot about the Windows Photo Gallery, the photo experience in Vista also includes the Windows Explorer (“the shell”), Media Center, Windows Media Player, and Movie Maker, to name a few. Separate teams work on these different components.   However, we spend quite a bit of time with each other coordinating the work that we do, so that the user has a good experience when they’re working with their photos. 

But each team also make sure that the user experience is also optimized based on how you’re interacting with it.  Media Center pulls together the media experiences across Windows—photos, videos, music, TV—into great remote-controlled UI.  Media Center folks call this the 10-foot experience instead of the keyboard-and-mouse-based 2-foot experience.  So the photo experience in Media Center is optimized for that 10’ experience

(By the way – 10 and 2 feet are the distances between your nose and the monitor when you’re using each of those interfaces.  As a matter of full disclosure, I worked on the Media Center team for several years before I joined the PIX team. :-) )

For example, metadata and photo organization are a big investment for Vista, enabling users to easily browse, find, and share your photos that you’ve taken. Since the Media Center experience is all about easy browsing and consuming of your content, too, it’s a no-brainer for us to make sure that the tagging concept we added as a core part of the photo experience in the 2’ photo gallery was also available at 10’ media center. 

A place where we made some compromises is in how we handle acquisition of photos.  The Media Center team wasn’t able to take advantage of the new photo acquisition platform that we added to vista, but we still worked together to make sure that the overall experience works – regardless of the underlying technology. We made sure that our photos are still viewable in both media center and the gallery.   Yeah, it means that the Media Center implementation misses features like auto-rotate during import or plug-in support, but based on the costs and resources, we think this was a reasonable tradeoff.

Then there are some things that we don’t even try to keep parity with. A feature that may inherently require a lot of keyboard and mouse work – like composing an email – just isn’t as compelling to add to the remote-control-driven Media Center.

That’s all well and good, but how do I use it?

I love using Media Center to immediately review photos that I’ve just taken – like from a party that’s still underway, or straight back from vacation.

I’ve got a Living Room PC form-factor Media Center in my living room.  I just pop my memory card into the PC and immediately begin reviewing my photos full-screen with the remote.   I use Media Center’s immediate editing features to correct rotation or to zoom on in pictures. 

I then save the detailed editing and tagging for when I go upstairs to get to my home office with my “regular” PC with keyboard and mouse handy.  On the flip-side, I’ve got my photo collection on my home office PC shared out on my home network, so I can browse my full collection from my media center PC.

That just happens to be *my* workflow.  I could also have used Media Center to import them to a network location, and then reviewed the photos from another PC.   (I’ve just got some habit that I’ve built up around doing some lightweight processing around photos when they come in, and I like being reminded of it by the physical action of plugging my card in my main PC) 

- Rodger Benson, Group Program Manager