Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

Official blog for the Windows Live Digital Memories Experience team

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Do you use Flickr? Then check out Windows Live Photo Gallery (Beta)!

    • 32 Comments

    To all of those that asked for it on your own blog, posted comments on our blog or other blog postings, sent us email, or even stopped me on the streets (ok, maybe it hasn’t gone this far yet) asking us to enable Windows Live Photo Gallery to publish photos on Flickr, I want to say… We heard you and we’ve done something about it! 

    I’m thrilled to announce that we’ve added the option to publish your photos on Flickr in the latest beta refresh version available today via Microsoft Update!  In fact, Windows Live Photo Gallery has received the stamp of approval from the super cool people at Flickr as a first-class application for uploading your photos to your Flickr account!  You can find the new option on the Publish menu.  I’ll be blogging more about the feature details very soon so check back here for lots more information. Check out the press release here
     
    But wait, there’s more!  In addition to the brand new Publish on Flickr feature there are some other recent notable changes in this latest beta version:

    • Windows Live Photo Gallery no longer requires WDS (Windows Desktop Search) to be installed on XP!  Again, we heard the grumblings loud and clear, and took action! Once you have installed the update via Microsoft Update and have build 1299.1010 install you can uninstall WDS if you’re not using it with any other programs.
    • Being a beta, we’ve also fixed a ton of bugs reported by users so the product should be a lot more stable since the last beta release. 

    Here’s how you get the latest Beta 2.2 refresh of Windows Live Photo Gallery:  If you are already using the Windows Live Photo Gallery beta, you will get the beta refresh as an update from Microsoft Update.  So, if you have automatic updates enabled from Microsoft Update you will get the latest version (Beta 2.2, build 1299.101) automatically.  If you have automatic updates disabled you will need to go to Microsoft Update (http://update.microsoft.com) to get the latest. 

    Not running Windows Live Photo Gallery beta yet?  Go to http://get.live.com to get the Beta 2 version and then check Microsoft Update to ensure you get the latest Beta 2.2 version with all of this new functionality announced today!
     
    We hope you’re as excited as we are!  We’re looking forward to hearing more of your feedback and experiences. 

    Michael Palermiti (Program Manager)

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Our new Photos web service is LIVE!

    • 26 Comments

    We're excited to report that the completely redesigned photos.live.com is up and running!

    Here are just a few reasons why you should go check it out:

    • Beautiful new views of your photos, including an amazing Slide show view.
    • 25 GB of FREE storage! That's a ton of pictures of any resolution plus there's no more 500-per-month limit on photos.
    • The photo-centric What's New feed on photos.live.com shows you the photos your friends are sharing.
    • Spaces and SkyDrive photos are now combined, so all of your photos are in one place.
    • Better permissions give you greater control over who can see your photos online.

    And that only scratches the surface of the new Windows Live Photos service. In future posts, we'll take a look at more of the amazing features Photos has to offer. For even more information, read the SkyDrive team's blog post.

    — The web Photos team

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Metadata and the Windows Vista Photo Gallery

    • 23 Comments

    If you have ever applied a tag to a photo, given it a star rating, or changed the date or time it was taken, you’ve edited the metadata on the photo. The term metadata literally means “data about data”. Your photos are considered “data”, so metadata about your photos is simply information that further describes your photos.

    The Windows operating system has always had mechanisms for storing and displaying metadata. For example, here is some of the information available for photos in Windows XP:

    • File Name
    • File Size
    • File type
    • Date last modified
    • Etc.

    Windows Vista makes some improvements to the metadata system for photos. For example, here is some of the new information available in Windows Vista:

    • Tags
    • Date Taken
    • Rating
    • Caption
    • Image Resolution
    • Camera make/model
    • Shutter speed
    • Etc.

    Some of this information is written to the photo by your camera (e.g. shutter speed, date taken, camera make/model). Some of it is added by you in an application like the Windows Vista Photo Gallery (e.g. tags, captions, and ratings).

    In the past, you may have used third-party image management applications that allowed you to add tags (or other metadata) to your photos, only to find out later that those tags were locked in a private database that only that application could read. This makes it inconvenient to share your photos (or back them up), since the metadata didn’t travel with the file. In Windows Vista, our goal is “the truth is in the file”. That means that metadata you apply to your photos is part of the photo, and available to any application that knows how to read it. But how do we accomplish that?

    EXIF, IPTC, and XMP – oh my!
    There are a number of competing standards for imaging metadata. That is, different ways of reading and writing metadata for photos. One of the biggest standards, EXIF, is commonly written to photos by most cameras, but has many limitations. It’s somewhat antiquated, fragile, not very flexible, and doesn’t support international languages like Japanese very well. IPTC is a standard that is used pretty widely in journalism applications, but is undergoing a transformation towards an XMP-based system.

    XMP is an extensible framework for embedding metadata in files that was developed by Adobe, and is the foundation for our “truth is in the file” goal. All metadata written to photos by Windows Vista will be written to XMP (always directly to the file itself, never to a ‘sidecar’ file). When reading metadata from photos on Windows Vista, we will first look for XMP metadata, but if we don’t find any, we’ll also look for legacy EXIF and IPTC metadata as well. If we find legacy metadata, we’ll write future changes back to both XMP and the legacy metadata blocks (to improve compatibility with legacy applications).

    Hurry up and wait
    It can be time consuming and resource intensive to read and write large image files. Because of this, The Windows Photo Gallery does all of its file activity in the background. When you query or tag photos in the Gallery, the instantaneous performance you’re seeing is the result of a database that caches metadata to provide a fast user experience.

    Although you’re able to tag thousands of photos and move on immediately, the reality is that those files will slowly be updated in the background. If you have tagged a bunch of files, those tags will not be visible to other applications until the Gallery has finished writing to those files. There is a small indicator in the bottom left hand corner of the application to let you know what the Gallery's metadata read/write status is.

    Hover your mouse over the small blue icon below the tree when it appears to see a tooltip with the following information:

    • Number of tag updates remaining (how many files the Gallery needs to read tags/metadata from)
    • Number of file updates remaining (how many files the Gallery needs to write tags/metadata to)
    • Number of thumbnail updates remaining (how many thumbnails the Gallery needs to generate from files)

    When the little blue icon disappears, it means the Gallery’s database and the file system are in sync. If you still run into files that are out of sync…

    Your mileage may vary
    Although our goal is for “truth in the file”, we know that we won’t be able to achieve it 100% of the time for all files. There are some cases where metadata writeback is impossible, so we do the best that we can. Some of the cases where we can’t write back metadata include:

    • Insufficient permissions to write to the file
    • File type (or codec) doesn’t support metadata writeback (e.g. BMP, PNG, GIF, MPEG, etc.)
    • Corruption in the file (badly formed metadata, etc.)
    • File is locked for writing by another application

    In these cases, the Photo Gallery will write the tags (or other metadata) to its own database, but since it is not in the file, other applications (and other parts of Windows) will not have access to the metadata. Other parts of Windows (e.g. Explorer, the Photo Viewer) may not allow you to write back metadata at all if it cannot be written to the file immediately.

    The Gallery does retry writeback operations several times before giving up. Every time the Gallery starts up, it will retry files that it couldn’t write in previous sessions. So if you discovered that your tags weren’t getting written back to your files because they were marked read-only, simply clear the read-only flag, and restart the Gallery. This should cause all of your tags to get written to your files.

    We will be posting more extensive documentation on MSDN in the coming weeks. Watch this space for an update!

    - Scott Dart (Program Manager)

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Next version of Windows Live

    • 22 Comments

    In just a short while brand new beta versions of Windows Live Photo Gallery and the completely brand new Windows Live Movie Maker will be available for free at http://download.live.com!  In addition to Photo Gallery and Movie Maker, this beta release includes significant updates to all of the Windows Live software applications for your Windows PC, including Messenger, Mail, Writer, Toolbar and Family Safety.  You’ll find sweet new features across the products. If you want to hear more about what we’re delivering across Windows Live, check out this blog post from Chris Jones.

    Here are some of cool things you can do with the new beta version of Photo Gallery:

    • People tagging: Photo Gallery automatically finds the people in your photos so you can add a name to the face. Then later, all you need to do is type in someone’s name to see all the photos of that person.
    • Photos from friends: See new photos from the people you know as soon as they post them online. Their new shots come to you automatically in Photo Gallery.
    • Photo editing: Adjust exposure, color, or detail by hand, or use auto adjust—either way, your photos look great. You can even create amazing panoramas—Photo Gallery automatically stitches them together for you.
    • More support for 3rd parties!  We’ve heard tons of requests for more publishing options, so this release includes a new Publishing API that enables the community to build plug-ins for virtually any sharing service.  A new resource for developers will be at http://dev.live.com/photogallery

    And here’s what you’ll find in the Movie Maker beta:

    • Seamless movie creation: Import and edit your movies so they look great, and then publish to the web—all in just a few clicks.
    • All new user interface: Movie Maker has been redesigned to help you combine photos, video clips, and music into movies you’ll be proud of.
    • Posting your movie to the web: It's easy to publish your finished masterpieces to most major video-sharing sites. So there’s no excuse to keep your work to yourself.

    This list really only scratches the surface.  We’ll definitely be blogging a lot more in the coming days and weeks about Photo Gallery and Movie Maker.  Stay tuned!

    --Digital Memories team

     

    You can get translations of this blog in several languages by copying this web address into the Windows Live Translator service.

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Windows Live Essentials beta refreshed

    • 21 Comments

    Repost from the Windows Live team blog

    About three months ago, we released public betas of the Windows Live Essentials – our suite of downloadable programs for your Windows PC, including Messenger, Mail, Photo Gallery, Movie Maker, Writer, Toolbar, and Family Safety.

    Windows Live Messenger Windows Live Mail Windows Live Photo Gallery Windows Live Movie Maker Windows Live Writer

    Since then, we’ve received a ton of great feedback and we’ve been using that information to update these programs. We’re getting very close to the final release. But before we get there, we’re refreshing the beta versions one more time to make sure we’ve ironed out all the kinks. You can get the latest betas from: http://download.live.com/.

    We’re working hard to get the final versions ready to go as soon as possible. So let us know what you like and don’t like, and if you’re running into any issues that we need to take care of before we take the “beta” tags off.

    We hope that you’ll find the latest versions even more enjoyable and useful than the first beta versions. Thank you all for the great feedback. Keep it coming!

    - Digital Memories Experience team

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Why “people tags”?

    • 20 Comments

    We've always had keyword (descriptive) tagging in Photo Gallery. Heck, we've had it in Microsoft photo products since Windows XP. So why add a whole new type of tag to Windows Live Photo Gallery? Because people take lots of pictures of people. Think about the photos that are most special to you. Let me guess— they have people in them, right? So it makes sense for the software you use to organize your photos to help you focus on the people in them. That's what people tags are all about.

    In the beta version, you can see that once you sign in to Windows Live, we add your contacts to the navigation tree. When you click a contact, you see all the photos you've tagged of that person, as well as links to photos they're sharing with you.

    people banner

    But your contact list is just a start. Someone doesn't have to be a Messenger or Hotmail contact for you to tag them. You can tag anyone. Just click the Add a new person link, or type in a new name when you're tagging.

    If there's a face in your photo, Photo Gallery automatically finds it, which makes tagging people faster and easier. From the gallery view, you can see how many untagged people are in your photos, and follow the link to tag them. Photo Gallery can't find every face, so you can always click Add people tag to add tags yourself.

    There are a few ways to add people tags to photos. In gallery mode, you can bulk add by selecting several photos and dragging them to the person you want to tag in the navigation tree. When viewing a single photo, you can apply an individual tag to each found person by clicking the identify link in the info pane. You can also click the face of the person you want to tag.

    tag-flow

    What's unique thing about the Photo Gallery tagging system is that, like keywords, people tags are written to the file. So if you copy the photo to another computer or back up all your photos, your tags stay with the file. Because the people tags are attached to your photos, the people you share them with will be able to see your people tags. Of course, we also want to make sure you stay in control of your data, so we've added some new settings to let you manage the metadata you publish on photo-sharing sites.

    For the developers out there, the people tags are written out as XMP and, yes, you can read them. I expect folks writing publish plug-ins to take advantage of this.

    — John Thornton, Program Manager

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Windows Vista Slideshow

    • 18 Comments

    Ever wonder what hides behind the candy-like blue button? My name is Karen Wong, and I'm a Program Manager on the Windows Vista Photo Gallery. My team created the experience behind this blue button - the Windows Vista Slide Show. This is the place to enjoy your photos and videos in their full-screen glory; or to set them against a background that suits the occasion.

    So what are some of the big changes from the XP Slide Show?  First off, the Vista slideshow can play photos AND videos.  Previously in XP, it was not possible to combine photos and videos in a single Slide Show. If you’re like me, you’ll take a couple of short clips in addition to your larger set of photos at any given event. Now there’s a one-stop shop to viewing everything you uploaded.

    Next, we’ve created a set of ‘themes’ that provide different ways for you to enjoy your photos.  The themes are designed to vary in the number of photos/videos you see on screen, the look-and-feel of the background; as well, we’ve spiced some themes up to include some new animation effects.

    We expect our users to have a wide variety of photos from a diverse range of events, activities, and special occasions. Our themes try to address this broad range of subject matter, as we know that different photos can be complimented with the right ‘mood’ in a theme. 

    Themes are organized in the slideshow menu in groups: the top 3 groups display photos/videos at full-screen. The bottom group displays photos/videos in a single or multi-layout format, with themed backgrounds. Some of the themes in the last group also include the new animated effects. 

    But not too fast. Although we’re jazzed about these new themes, we still love the simplicity of the XP slideshow.  So guess what?  We kept it in. You’ll find the XP slideshow under the ‘Classic’ theme - it plays photos only, with no fancy backgrounds or effects.

    One caveat: cool Slide Shows need the right hardware.  You’ll need a minimum level of graphics support (i.e. video card) to get the new and improved Slide Show experience. The quickest way to find out whether you’re ‘Slide Show Ready’ is to check your Windows Experience Index (Start Menu | Computer | System Properties). On par with the requirements to run Aero Glass, you’ll need a ‘Graphics’ score of at least 3.0. 

    Power User
    If your graphics score isn’t at least 3.0, you can still get the full set of themes (with the Premium or Ultimate SKU) by setting a regkey. Keep in mind that there are no guarantees that they will run well!

    Here is the info you need to set the regkey:
    Key path is HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows Photo Gallery\SlideShow.
    Type = DWORD Value
    Name = WinSATScore
    Value = 300

    - Karen Wong, Program Manager

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Importing Photos with Windows Vista

    • 18 Comments

    We all know that no one really wants to import.  We want to look at our pictures, enjoy them, share them, maybe even edit and organize them -- but not import them.  Importing is just a means to an end, and in Vista we focused on getting you to that end as quickly and painlessly as possible.  You’ll see a lot of changes from XP but don’t let that scare you off.  The first change you’ll notice is there is no longer a step to select your photos.  Before you decide that’s a bad thing read on about how duplicate detection prevents importing multiple times, how waiting to delete your photos until you are in the Gallery might save you from deleting a salvageable photo, and more.

    Wireless support and more
    One of the biggest changes to import is one you’ll never see.  We now use Windows Portable Devices to communicate with cameras and other device types.  Windows Portable Devices allows you to acquire more photos at one time, support more device types, and it also provides support for wireless.  A solution is on the way for those of you tired of dealing with all those cables every time you want to import.   Look for cameras that support wireless using Windows Portable Devices.

    Duplicate Detection
    Did you forget to erase your card after your last import and don’t want to re-import the same images again?  No problem, Vista has duplicate detection.  The Import Pictures and Videos experience recognizes files it has already imported and doesn’t try to import them again.  No need to make you go in and select the new pictures by hand anymore.

    Recently Imported
    In the Windows Photos Gallery you will see a node in the navigation tree labeled ‘Recently Imported’.  This scope allows you to quickly find all the photos you’ve imported in the last 30 days.  It’s always where you will find yourself immediately after import completes.  The Import Pictures and Videos experience ends in the Recently Imported view where you can quickly view, delete, organize, edit, and share you photos with just a few clicks of the mouse.  You might be used to deleting the duds in import but we think it’s worth the wait to acquire them and take a second look in the Gallery.  It’s hard to tell if a photo is really salvageable from a thumbnail.  In the Gallery you can look at your photo full screen and try our quick fix tools to see if the photo is really hopeless or no - it might just be worth saving.

    Tagging
    The Import Pictures and Videos experience offers the ability to quickly add a relevant tag during the import process as a quick shortcut to get you started with your organization.  This may not be ideal if you are importing pictures from multiple events but not to worry, import will leave you in the Windows Photo Gallery which is the best place to do rich tagging and metadata based organization.  If you usually have more than one event on your camera when you import, you may want to suppress this option altogether.  To do so,  click on the Options link on the tagging screen of the import experience or open the Windows Photo Gallery, click on the File menu, click Option, and click the Import tab.  In Options you can uncheck ‘Prompt for tag on import’.  You might also want to change the file naming default to ‘Original File Name’.

    Rotate on import
    Ever wonder why we can’t just automatically correct rotation?  We wondered the same thing.  In Vista we look at the EXIF data in the file at import time to see if the camera has indicated that rotation is required.  If it is, we’ll go ahead and do that for you.  Don’t want the helping hand?  No problem, you can turn off the rotate feature in Options.  

    File and Folder naming
    Windows Photo Gallery makes it simple to find your pictures by searching and organizing based on tags you’ve entered.  However, there will be times when you need to browse by file and folder name to find what you are looking for.  By default we will use the date imported plus the tag (if provided) to create the folder name and the tag for the file name.  Not to your liking, not a problem.  You can customize the file and folder naming in the import Options.  Note that there is no way to import to multiple folders based on event at this time but we are looking into this.

    Extensibility
    If the above still isn’t enough, we’ve added plug-in support to import.  This allows 3rd parties, Microsoft, or even you to write custom plug-ins to extend import.  A plug in could be anything from a backup option, applying filters, or specialized file and folder naming templates.  Currently no plug-ins are available but we will keep you posted as that changes.  If you are interested in writing your own details will be available on MSDN soon, stay tuned and we’ll post a link when the SDK goes live.

    - Ashley Averett, Program Manager

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    You’ve tagged them, now here’s how to find them fast

    • 16 Comments

    If you read John’s recent post, an introduction to “people tags”,  you now know that you can quickly  tag  the faces in your photos-- using either the  contacts in your contacts list, or any name you want.  So hopefully by now you’ve played around with people tags in our beta, adding them to photos of your friends, family, and that “celebrity” you’re stalking.

    One reason you tagged all those photos is that at some point you’ll want to find some of them quickly. So, now the fun part: here’s how to do it.

    Turns out you can find photos that have a people tag pretty much the same way you find a photo with a descriptive tag.  You can use the navigation pane on the left, use the info pane on the right, or search and arrange by people tags.

    In the navigation pane (hint: left side of the window), when you select a contact or other person, you’ll see all of the photos they’re tagged in.  It’s that simple.

    findbyppl-1

    Maybe you’re more likely to browse your photos a different way.  If you’re browsing by date, for example, and you find a photo with some friends in it. If you want to find all the pictures you have that contain one of the people from that picture, select the name of that person from the pane on the right, like this:

    findbyppl-2

    The gallery will switch to the first view, with the person selected in the navigation pane and all of the pictures of them ready for your perusal.
    The third way to find people is with search.  Let me walk you through it.

    Search looks at all of the properties (or tags) of your photos, including your descriptive tags, the camera model, the author, etc.  Here I’ve selected the folder “All Photos and Videos” and then searched for “john.”  So in addition to the pictures tagged with “John,” there are a few photos with the caption “John and Fairview,”, which is the street address of the Seattle Times and the clock featured in this blog post.  And there are also some photos from a team evet that I got from John, where he’s tagged as the author.

    findbyppl-3

    After that, I would have to sort through all of these search results to figure out which ones are tagged “John.”  Kind of a pain. So, this is a great time for me to use the “arrange by” view.  Over to the left of the search box, I can arrange by several properties.  If I select Person, the people-tagged photo floats to the top.

    findbyppl-4

    Voila!  Now I can publish them, print them, fix them up, or do something creative.  My teammates will be blogging about new and old ways of doing these things over the coming weeks.

    Robert Ketcherside, Program Manager

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Photo Gallery beta cheat sheet

    • 16 Comments

    We’ve packed a lot into the new beta version of Windows Live Photo Gallery.  At the same time we’ve heard users ask, “What’s new in Photo Gallery?”. Here’s a quick clip-and-save list of the top features to check out.  In the coming weeks we’ll be going into more detail about everything on this list. Stay tuned.

    An updated look.  Photo Gallery has a new user interface design that puts the emphasis on you and your content.   We’ve minimized the amount of space that controls take up in order to give more space and focus to your photos and videos. Want even more room? Collapse the navigation tree (hint: pane on the left) and close the info pane (hint: pane on the right) for a wall-to-wall view of your collection:  

    image

    Just the right amount of Info.  Try out the new Info pane (hint: click the Info button to turn on or off) for a quick look at the people and descriptive tags you’ve assigned to your photos.  Based on popular requests, we’ve also bubbled up more metadata about your photos and videos. Plus, you can dial in how much metadata you want to see by dragging the divider up and down. You control what you want to see.

    People tags!  Photo Gallery automatically detects faces in your photos to make it easy to tag.  And with our people tagging user interface you can quickly choose folks from your Messenger and Mail contact lists. Open up a photo and click “Add people tags” to get started.  And to appeal to the narcissist is all of us, there’s a single click “That’s Me” link to identify yourself in photos.

    Keep in touch.  Browse your photos by person using the People navigation area. When you’re browsing by person, click on someone’s name and look at the new people banner (hint: along the top) to see the latest photos they have shared online at Windows Live, and download the ones you like – right from within Photo Gallery.

    image

    Make your photos look great.  Photo Gallery provides the tools you need to get it right and add a personal touch, with little effort. For example, if you’re like me, all your photos come out a little crooked.  Just click on Straighten photo, and Photo Gallery will automatically straighten it, or use the slider to tweak it yourself to add a neat effect.  While we all love color, the new Black and White effects will give an artistic touch to your photos.

    image

    Publish wherever you want.  We think that Photo Gallery is so good that users will want you to use it every time to share your photos, no matter what online service you use.  Our new SDK will let developers create plug-ins for users that, when installed, will appear right on the Publish menu.  Check out the current list of available plug-ins.

    From photos to movies.  Now going from your pictures to a published video on the web is just a couple of clicks away. Choose photos and video clips from your collection, and click Make a Movie to put together a great looking movie.

    Limit the information about each file when you share.  The new Publish options let you control what file metadata is included when you share your photos online.

    Support for Photosynth, Image Composite Editor, and other Extras.  There’s always room for more!  The new Extras menu is the place to look for apps and services that extend the Photo Gallery experience.   Photosynth is the first experience that’s integrated – just install it to start making your own synths from Photo Gallery.  Want creative control over the image stitching process? Try out the brand new Image Composite Editor. Both of these new programs are just a click away on the Photo Gallery’s Extras menu when installed.

    And there are a few more gems hidden in there as well.  I hope you’ll give us a spin – and tell us what you think!

    -- Rodger Benson (Lead Program Manager)

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Synchronize photos on two computers!

    • 14 Comments

    You’ve tagged, edited, and organized your photos on your home computer. Your photo collection is perfect - just how you want it. But wait, there’s a problem. Your collection is perfect on your home computer, but you want your photos and videos on your laptop as well. Who wants to go through all that work again?

    It'd be much easier if you could synchronize computers so that new photos on one computer were automatically copied to the other. Guess what? The Windows Live Photo Gallery and Windows Live Sync teams have partnered to make that possible!

    Windows Live Photo Gallery Sync

    With Sync, keeping photos synchronized on two computers is simple. Download and install Windows Live Essentials on two computers, launch Windows Live Photo Gallery on both and sign in on each using the same Windows Live ID. You’re on your way to synchronizing photos!

    It gets better.

    Say you edit a photo on your home computer that's synchronized with your laptop. Later, while looking at that photo on your laptop, you decide you don't like the edit you made and to want to revert back to the original. With Photo Gallery, you know that's possible, but you edited the photo on your other computer. With Sync, your photo's file history is also synchronized so you can undo changes you've made from either computer!

    This is a new feature that we’re trying out with a limited number of people. If you can, try it out and let us know what you think. If you can't, hold on - you'll be able to soon!

    —Photo Gallery and Sync teams

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Finding your photos in the Live Photo Gallery

    • 11 Comments

    It’s hard to follow-up Michael’s flickr post, but someone has to do it so here it goes.

    We made some changes from the Vista Photo Gallery to the Live Photo Gallery in how you organize your photos.  One example of this is how we have pushed more organization into the import process.  The idea being that after you import your photos they come in to the gallery already pretty organized.  The following screencast walks through some of the other new photo organization features of the Live Photo Gallery.  Enjoy!


    Video: gallery organization

    - John Thornton (Program Manager)

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Advanced searching using the Navigation Tree

    • 11 Comments

    In my last article, I gave an overview of the Nav Tree. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s dig deeper into some of the ways that a power user might use the Nav Tree to find their photos.

     

    Multi-Selection
    When you select a ‘parent’ node in the Nav Tree, all of the ‘child’ nodes get selected automatically, but did you know that you can also create multi-selections in the tree by control-clicking? This is the key to advanced queries in the Nav Tree.

     

    If I have created a tag for photos of my Mom, and added that tag to all of my photos of her, I can find all of my photos of her just by clicking on that tag. But if I wanted to find only the best photos of her, I could do this by clicking on the ‘Mom’ tag, and then clicking on the ‘5 star’ node in the ‘Ratings’ section of the tree (assuming I had also rated all of my photos of her).

     

    These multi-selections have different interactions depending on whether you select nodes of the same ‘type’ (e.g. nodes under the ‘Tags’ section of the tree are considered a different ‘type’ than the nodes under the ‘Date Taken’ section of the tree, etc.). If I select two nodes of the same type, I will see all photos that have either tag assigned (e.g. ‘Mom’ OR ‘Dad’). However, if I select nodes of different types, I will see only the photos that match both nodes (e.g. ‘Mom’ AND ‘5-star’). It sounds really confusing, but in practice, we’ve found that it matches user expectations most of the time. Here are a few examples:

    • Select a few tags corresponding to several family members, a date, and a rating: You’ll see all of the photos of all of those people, but only the ones that were taken on that date, with that rating assigned.
    • Select a folder and the ‘Videos’ node: You’ll see only the videos in the selected folder.
    • Select a date, and the ‘Not Tagged’ node: You’ll see all of the photos taken on that date that don’t have any tags assigned.

    Hierarchy
    When you organize your tags (or folders) in a tree, it’s called a hierarchy. Not only does this help you to group similar items together, but it also helps keep the size of your tree manageable as you add more and more tags.

     

    I created a top-level tag called ‘People’. Under that, I created a tag called ‘Family’.  I also have tags for friends and co-workers so I can find them easily. Under the Family node, I create more tags by last name to help me quickly distinguish between my own family, and my sisters and their families. Once I have this structure set up, I can easily see all of my family photos by clicking on the top level ‘Family’ node or only my sisters’ family by clicking on their node. I can drill in further to see photos of my individual nieces and nephews by clicking on the tags assigned to them.

     

    It’s easy to create tag hierarchies, just drag and drop the tags around the tree to re-arrange them. This makes it easy for people to start small with their tagging efforts (just a few tags in a flat list), and grows with them over time as their list of tags gets longer and more complex.

     

    The concept of hierarchies is no different from a folder hierarchy, but here you get the benefit of tags, meaning that you can always easily find the images or videos you’re looking for – you get the best of both worlds, the organization of folders with the easy use and searchability of tags!

     

    Scott Dart – Program Manager

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Canon RAW Codec for Vista release

    • 11 Comments

    Canon has released their RAW codec for Windows Vista.  To download it:

    • Visit http://www.usa.canon.com/consumer/controller?act=DownloadIndexAct
    • Category = “EOS (SLR) Camera Systems”, Product Type = “Digital EOS Cameras” and then choose your camera model from the third dropdown
    • Click Go
    • Click the “Drivers / Software” link at the top of the page
    • Choose the Canon RAW Codec  1.0
    • Download and run the executable

    The codec will support .CR2 RAW files, but not .CRW files.  It includes support for the following cameras:

    • EOS-1Ds Mark II
    • EOS-1D Mark III
    • EOS-1D Mark II N
    • EOS-1D Mark II
    • EOS 5D
    • EOS 30D
    • EOS 20D
    • EOS 400D DIGITAL
    • EOS DIGITAL REBEL XTi
    • EOS Kiss Digital X
    • EOS 350D DIGITAL
    • EOS DIGITAL REBEL XT
    • EOS Kiss Digital N

    - pixblog

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    The next generation of Windows Live

    • 10 Comments

    As you've probably heard, the next generation of Windows Live has arrived and its fresh out of the oven without a beta tag!  If you're the long reading type then take a look at the presspass Q&A available here which provides some great insight.  There is also a Windows Live fact sheet available here which provides lots of details about this week's release.  This afternoon our team along with the other Windows Live teams celebrated the release at our "ship party" (photo to the right). 

    You can now get the new Windows Live at windowslive.com -- free!

    Overall it's been an amazing year for our team and we're proud of the work we've accomplished.  First and foremost, we'd like to take this opportunity to thank the private beta testers.  Your help very early on proved to be invaluable to the quality of this release.  We'd also like to thank all of the early adopters of the public beta, readers of this blog that sent us emails and comments, and all of the other customers we heard from (Microsoft employees, too!) that helped us tremendously.  Everyone: THANK YOU!

    Here are only a few of the many great customer quotes we've seen recently that make all the sweat worth it:

    “It is both functional and beautiful to work with.
    Needless to say, Live Photo Gallery is icing on the cake - moist, delicious cake. And the cake is not a lie."
    - Long Zheng (www.startedsomething.com)

    “This is really a wonderful thing.  I am so glad that you guys finally filled this huge feature gap and enabled easy publishing.”
    - triplegreen (comment on our blog)

    “Great update, been using spaces for quite some time now and appreciate the work you all do on it, thanks.”
    - Mark (comment on Spaces Team blog)

    “Thank you for redesigning the photo module!”
    - Ivan Sammy (comment on Spaces Team blog)

    "Honestly, I have to admit that Microsoft really stepped up their game with the new Windows Live Photo Gallery by adding support for Flickr."
    - Ryan (www.cybernetnews.com)

    “Thank you for listening to users.”
    - someone (comment on our blog)

    "This (panorama feature) is the kind of technology you'd normally see reserved for higher end, paid for, photo editing programs but now it's available to everyone."
    - Steve Clayton (http://blogs.msdn.com/stevecla01)

    “Please keep up the great work - I'd love to be working on a product that's this good ;-)”
    - cjm55 (comment on our blog)

    "Thank you!  You just got yourself a Picasa convert."
    - kkuphal (comment on our blog)

    We'd like to leave you with a few new videos available online...

    • First, check out the really great "Share life as it happens" video on the brand new windowslive.com.  This video is a quick but well done overview of how simple Windows Live Photo Gallery + Windows Live Spaces makes it to share your memories with those you care about.
    • Second, the crew at Channel 10 recently came over to our building and interviewed a couple of our team members.  Watch the interview on Channel 10.

    Now, go download Windows Live and Share a smile and help us give to Operation Smile!

    - pixblog

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Sharing your photos on Flickr is seamless with Windows Live Photo Gallery

    • 10 Comments

    In my previous post I announced that we partnered up with the Flickr team on a slick new publishing feature in Windows Live Photo Gallery.  Our friends at Flickr also talked about it on their team blog.  This time I’d like to take a few more moments and go a little deeper into some of the details of the new feature and I created a short screencast to show how simple it really is!

    First, we absolutely still believe that “the truth is in the file”.  As Scott Dart (Program Manager) put it in a previous post, “That means that metadata you apply to your photos is part of the photo, and available to any application that knows how to read it.”  We carried that forward to Windows Live Photo Gallery and the publish features, both Publish on Windows Live Spaces and Publish on Flickr.  We knew this was important to Flickr users so we made sure the feature didn’t remove that important data from your photos when you uploaded them to your account.  (Got more questions about metadata?  We have answers, here.)

    Talking about is OK, but how about seeing it in action?!  Check out the screencast I made showing how smooth the flow is from Importing your photos off your camera to the photos being published on your Flickr page! 


    Video: Demo: Windows Live Photo Gallery - Publish on Flickr

    By the way, I published my .WMV on Soapbox using Windows Live Photo Gallery! ;-)

    For those that like screen shots, here’s the play by play:  If you’ve never used the Publish on Flickr feature, the first time you go to click on it in the Publish menu you’ll find it in the “More services” fly out.  The next time you return to the Publish menu, we’ll display it on the top level making it even easier for you to re-use it. 

    After you click on the Publish on Flickr menu item for the first time, you’ll be asked to authorize Windows Live Photo Gallery.  Authorizing Photo Gallery simply means you allow it to access your account and upload photos to it.  You will only be asked to authorize each account once (per PC) and then you won’t have to bother again!

    Clicking “Authorize…” on the above dialog will automatically open your web browser to the Flickr website where you’ll need to confirm whether you’ll allow the application to have access.  I’m assuming you will approve, or else no worky-worky for the Publish on Flickr feature!  ;-)  If it makes you feel better, Windows Live Photo Gallery is a trusted Flickr partner:

    After authorizing the application on the Flickr site, you can close the web browser and return to Windows Live Photo Gallery to this dialog:

    Authorization is done!  Clicking Next, gets you to the Publish dialog.  On the Publish dialog you can add or switch between multiple Flickr accounts, choose which set you want to upload to or create a new one, select a resize option if you don’t want to upload the original, and you can select the permission for your photos when they are published:

    Assuming you click the Publish button, you’ll start uploading photos…  (*Power user tip* You can minimize the upload dialog and go on to other tasks, or queue up more photos to publish… queue up as many as you like!)

    After the upload finishes we’ll let you know with a summary dialog and provide a one-click “View photos” option to quickly get to your newly published photos on Flickr…

     

    So, there you have it.  What do you think?  We want to hear your feedback!  Thanks!

    - Michael Palermiti (Program Manager) 

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Windows Live Suite Public Beta!

    • 9 Comments

    Back in June, we announced a private beta of the new Windows Live Photo Gallery. We got a lot of great feedback from the beta testers, but now it's time to get more people involved. This afternoon, we released a new build, and are opening it up for everyone to download and play with - come and get it!

    You'll find all of the features that we talked about in the private beta, but also a few new ones. But this isn't just a beta of the Photo Gallery, it's a beta of the whole Windows Live Suite. Chris Jones (my boss) posted a roundup of the Suite on the Windows Live Wire Blog. Chris Keating did a nice write-up of some of the new Photo Gallery features on the Spaces team blog as well. You can download the Suite here, and leave us your feedback here.

    Stay tuned to this blog, we'll be posting more detailed information over the coming days and weeks about all of the features in the new Live Photo Gallery Beta. I'm also adding a bunch of links to our sister teams in Live. If you want to know more about what they are up to, check out their respective team blogs as well...

    - Scott Dart (Program Manager)

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Extreme panorama!

    • 9 Comments

    Here on the Windows Live Photo Gallery team we love seeing cool panoramic photos that our users create themselves using Photo Gallery.  As you might already know, Photo Gallery includes an awesome panorama stitching feature built into the product.  The technology behind the scenes that enables the feature came straight out of Microsoft Research (MSR).

    Well, the MSR team that gave us the stitching engine is now helping with a very cool project.  They recently hooked up with xRez and the staff at Yosemite National Park to work on a panoramic project dubbed the “Yosemite Extreme Panoramic Imaging Project”. 

    By “extreme” they really do mean it!  Our friends in MSR wrote about the recent trip to Yosemite on their own blog.  The final panoramic product should be ready sometime in late summer.  Stay tuned to the project page!

    While most of us don’t have the time or hardware to shoot 10 Gigapixel panoramas :) you can still create something beautiful with your own camera and Windows Live Photo Gallery in minutes.  Here’s a quick screen cast to show you how:


    Video: Live Photo Gallery Panoramic Stitching

    Got a gorgeous panorama that you’ve created with Windows Live Photo Gallery?  Drop a link to it in the comments of this post and share it with us!

    -- DMX team

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Latest version of Windows Live Photo Gallery fixes publishing issues

    • 9 Comments

    We’ve been getting comments from users who’ve had issues uploading to existing albums, being confused about upgrading their albums, or not being able to share their original sized photos. Thanks for your feedback - we’ve fixed these problems! Here are the details:

    Not able to see some of your online albums when trying to publish to them?

    Don’t worry your albums and photos haven’t disappeared. They appear missing from the list when changes are made to your album (adding a photo, a comment, changing your display picture or your album permissions). Installing the latest version of Photo Gallery corrects this problem!

    Only being able to upload 500 photos per month? Not anymore!

    One of the great new things about publishing online albums now is that photos.live.com (where your photos are stored on Windows Live) no longer has that space limitation. Now you have 25 GB! For most of us, that’s enough storage for around 8,000 photos.

    Selecting the “Optimize for printing” option resizes photos, but you want to share the original size.

    In the latest version of Photo Gallery you can select the size you want to upload! Choose a smaller photo size for fast uploads, or if you want to upload the original size (which might take a little longer but might improve the quality of prints) you can - It’s your choice.

    Being asked to upgrade your albums?

    Photos uploaded through Windows Live Spaces and through the previous versions of Photo Gallery didn’t include cool stuff like ambient background colors on the slide show or the new square thumbnail images, so they need an extra step to make them look as nice as the new ones. Publishing photos with the latest version of Photo Gallery doesn’t require this extra step.

    How I know if I have the new version of Photo Gallery or not?

    It’s quick and easy to tell by looking at the Publish menu in Photo Gallery. If you see the option to Publish to Windows Live Spaces, you don’t have the latest version installed. You can also check on About Photo Gallery under the Help menu. Check to see if you have version 2009 (Build 14.0.8064.206). Or just install Photo Gallery. The install wizard will let you know if you already have the latest version installed or not.

    We love your feedback. Besides commenting here you can ask questions on our public forum or send your feedback and issues directly to us.

    - Ana Lilia Otero, Program Manager

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Nikon RAW Codec

    • 9 Comments

    Updated note to users of the Nikon RAW Codec for Windows:  Microsoft has received reports of compatibility issues with Nikon NEF files after installing version 1.0 of Nikon’s RAW codec posted in January 2007.  Tagging the RAW files through Windows Vista or the Microsoft Photo Info tool after the codec is installed appears to cause these files to become unreadable in other applications, such as Adobe Photoshop. We have confirmed that these files can still be opened with Nikon Capture.
     
    Nikon and Microsoft have investigated the issue, and have determined that no data is lost, nor is the image file damaged in any way. Nikon is working on an updated codec that will resolve this issue, and expects to have it released in the very near future.
     
    Tagging the file using Photo Info without the Nikon NEF codec installed appears to be safe.

    - pixblog

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Tagging

    • 9 Comments

    Today, I’ll be talking about the various ways that you can tag your photos and videos using the Windows Photo Gallery.

    Info Pane
    Clicking on the ‘Info’ button in the toolbar opens the ‘Info Pane’, which allows you to view and edit metadata for the selected photos and videos. In addition to Tags, you can edit the following metadata just by clicking on it:

    • File name
    • Date and time taken
    • Rating
    • Tags
    • Caption

    But let’s focus on tagging for now. After making your selection, click on the ‘Add Tags’ control and start typing. If you have any tags on any of your photos, you’ll notice that an auto-complete menu pops up with a list of any tags that match what you’re typing. This makes it easy to add frequently-used tags to photos over and over.

    Power-user tip: This auto-complete behavior works even if you have a complex tree of tags. And if you haven’t created a tree structure yet, you can create one just by typing a backslash character (“\”) in your tag name (e.g. Friends\Bob).

    Drag and Drop
    The Navigation Tree is also an easy way to tag your photos and videos. You can quickly create new tags here by clicking on the ‘Create a New Tag’ node (which is always the first entry in the tag tree), and typing the name of your new tag. You can then drag-and-drop to place your new tag where you’d like it in the tree.

    Once you have a tag created in the tree, just drag and drop photos and videos to it to assign that tag to them. You can drag items one at a time, or as part of a multi-selection.

    In addition to using drag and drop to assign Tags, you can also drag and drop photos and videos to other parts of the tree as well. Drag items to a date on the tree to change the date taken. Drag items to a rating to set the rating for those items. And you can drag and drop items to folder the same way you’re used to in Windows XP.

    - Scott Dart


  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    RAW Support in Windows Vista

    • 8 Comments

    Many photographers (especially those with digital SLRs) shoot in ‘RAW’ mode, which outputs a file format that is proprietary to their camera make and model (e.g. .CR2, .NEF, etc.). These RAW formats preserve more of the original information from the camera than the JPG file that most other cameras output. This extra information provides greater quality, but it comes at a price of convenience. JPG is a universally supported image file format, but as anyone who has used RAW files can tell you, they are anything but universally supported.

    In the past, RAW shooters had to either rely on RAW conversion software provided by their camera manufacturer, or put their fate in the hands of the myriad of software makers who have attempted to reverse-engineer these formats for support in their software applications. This led to a number of problems: compatibility issues, varying quality or inconsistent results from one application to another, and holes in the user workflow where RAW support is lacking.

    Windows Vista attempts to solve these problems by providing an extensible platform that allows support for these (and other) new file formats to be added to Windows by the owner of the file format. This support comes in the form of a codec, which users will get from their camera manufacturer, either by downloading it, or provided with a new camera body. The Photo Gallery will even detect the presence of these files and help you download a codec when it exists.

    Microsoft has been working with the major camera manufacturers so that they can provide codecs for their various RAW formats to their customers. Once these codecs are installed, users will find that they can now view their RAW files and thumbnails throughout Windows Vista. Users can also perform most of the same tasks on their RAW files that they perform on their JPG files in the Photo Gallery – their RAW files can be viewed, tagged, rated, printed, etc. Because photographers shoot RAW for advanced editing of their photos, we did not enable the light touch-up functionality in the Photo Gallery for RAW files. Windows Vista also exposes a set of APIs, so that other applications can also provide this same level of functionality by using the same RAW codec.

    The camera manufacturers are hard at work getting their RAW codecs ready. Although we can’t provide specifics of their individual plans, we expect codecs for the most common RAW formats to be available to customers within the first few months after the January 30th Vista launch. If you are interested in support for your specific camera model, we suggest that you contact your camera manufacturer for more details.

    - pixblog

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Nikon releases NEF RAW codec for Windows Vista

    • 8 Comments

    It feels like only a few days ago when I was discussing the RAW codec architecture on this blog...in fact, it was. It turns out that the timing couldn't have been better, because today Nikon released their RAW codec for Windows Vista.

    There are two ways to get the codec: You can download it directly from Nikon's site, or you can use the Photo Gallery to assist you.

    If you have .NEF files in any of the folders that are monitored by the Photo Gallery, you will have seen the following dialog on startup of the Gallery:

    Clicking the download button will open a web page with information about the file formats that the Gallery has detected. If you have several different types of RAW files on your machine, you will see a web page open for each file format. The page for Nikon NEF files is here: http://shell.windows.com/fileassoc/0409/xml/redir.asp?EXT=nef, and takes you to the Nikon page to download the codec. Installation instructions are provided.

    If you got tired of seeing that dialog, and checked the "Don't show this message again" box, you can still get to this functionality from the Gallery. Click 'Options' under the 'File' menu, and then click on the 'Check for updates' button at the bottom of the 'General' tab.  

    Other codecs have 'coming soon' pages, but this mechanism will work for them as well when they are released. Of course, we'll also announce the release of new codecs on our blog.

    - pixblog

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Nikon RAW codec issues

    • 8 Comments

    Important note to users of the Nikon RAW Codec for Windows with Nikon RAW files: We have received reported compatibility issues with their Nikon NEF files after installing Nikon’s RAW codec. Tagging the RAW files through Windows Vista or the Photo Info tool appears to cause these files to become unreadable in other  applications, such as Adobe Photoshop. We have confirmed that these files can still be opened with Nikon Capture.
     
    Nikon and Microsoft are investigating the issue, and we will post an update when we have more information. In the meantime, we suggest that you exercise caution with your Nikon RAW files. If you plan on tagging them, make a backup of the file first, and verify that the tagged file continues to work with your other applications before proceeding.

    - pixblog

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    How to clear tag suggestions

    • 8 Comments

    I'm a pretty hardcore tag'er.  I tag all my photos & videos which helps me quickly find them later when I want to show someone a specific file in my growing collection.  Of course tagging helps when I upload my photos online too, like to FlickrWindows Live Photo Gallery makes is very, very easy to tag your items but sometimes mistypes happen. 

    Well, we've heard about some users occasionally experiencing a pesky little problem with the auto-suggest tag feature in the Info Pane.  Here's the setup... you're tagging some photos and you mistype a tag (e.g., you meant to type "Mom", but instead you typed "Nom" or something like that).  You deleted the bogus tag from the Tag list in the navigation tree (left pane in the program), but this bogus tag still shows up in this suggested list of tags in the Info Pane's tag edit box.  So, whenever you go to tag a photo the auto-suggest list shows "Nom" with the other recently used tags.  Ack!

    While we don't have a one-click way to remove these yet, there is a manual way to do it.  First, this is a screenshot showing the auto-suggested tags when I clicked in the Tag edit box for this photo.  I want to get rid of the "t" suggested tag.

    image

    The workaround requires you open up the registry so the standard "beware" clause should be injected here...

    Warning Serious problems might occur if you modify the registry incorrectly by using Registry Editor or by using another method. These problems might require that you reinstall the operating system. Microsoft cannot guarantee that these problems can be solved. Modify the registry at your own risk.

    Ok, now that is out of the way here's what you can do:

    1. Close Windows Live Photo Gallery.
    2. Go to Start | Run | type regedit and hit Enter. (On Vista you'll be prompted by the User Account Control dialog if you aren't logged in as the local administrator.)
    3. In the Registry Editor browse to this location: HKEY_CURRENT_USERS\Software\Microsoft\Windows Live\Photo Gallery\Library\PreviewPane\LabelAssignment\MRU
    4. In the right pane you should see the list of tags that show up in the auto-suggest list.  You can delete the one(s) you don't want.
    5. When you're finished, close Registry Editor and open Photo Gallery.

    Here's a visual of Registry Editor browsed to the location I mentioned above:

    image

    Keep in mind, doing this manual workaround does not delete actual Tags from files or the Photo Gallery database.  So, even if you remove all the items in this list from this registry location, your actual tags remain untouched.  This only clears the auto-suggest list.

    Hope this helps!  Happy tagging.

    - Michael Palermiti (Program Manager)

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