Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

Official blog for the Windows Live Digital Memories Experience team

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    This blog is no longer active

    Did you notice? We haven’t posted anything new here for awhile. We’ve officially stopped maintaining this blog.

    To get the inside story from the people who build Windows Live, please check out the Inside Windows Live blog, where Windows Live engineers and executives blog about all the Windows Live services, how they’re built, and how we decide what to add or improve as we build the latest new features.

    If you need technical help with anything from Windows Live, try the Windows Live Solution Center. You can also follow us on Twitter at

    Thanks for your support!
    The Windows Live team

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Microsoft Image Composite Editor (ICE)


    Hello, I’m Matt Uyttendaele. I normally post over on the HD View blog, but today the Digital Memories Team is giving me this space to talk about Microsoft ICE.  In my blog post announcing the Microsoft Image Composite Editor (ICE), I mentioned the tight integration with the next version of Windows Live Photo Gallery (WLPG).  That next version has been available for a while now, so I wanted to give WLPG users a quick intro to ICE.  Most of you are probably familiar with the “create panoramic image” capabilities in WLPG.  My team in Microsoft Research developed the technology behind this.  ICE is another tool that you can use to create panoramic images.  It uses the same technology as WLPG under the hood and adds a few features. 

    Orientation Tool

    Probably the most important feature is the orientation tool.  When creating a panoramic photo there are many different ways that you may want to show the result.  In the pictures below are examples of this.  In the first case, the user has modified the orientation to give the impression that a tilt/shift lens was used.  In the second case, the user decided to use a perspective projection instead of a cylindrical one.  In the final example, the user had a 360-degree panorama and wanted to set the midpoint of the panorama slightly differently. 

    Choose the panorama orientation in ICE:



    default result

    tilt-shift effect created by ICE

    Choose a custom projection in ICE:



    cylinder – notice curved roof lines

    perspective – roof lines now straight but left-right edges are more stretched

    Choose a 360 mid-point in ICE:

    initial result


    subject in the middle


    These edits were all achieved using the ICE orientation tool.  This tool gives you interactive feedback of your adjustments, so it is easy to experiment and get exactly what you want out of it.  The pictures above give an idea of what you can do with the orientation tool, but the best way to get a feel for the tool is to try it out on your own panoramas. 

    Export Options

    The second major feature is the wide variety of export options. The most interesting of these are Deep Zoom and HD View.  When you create a panorama with WLPG or ICE, the result can be a very large image.  Posting this mega-image to the web results in a less-than-ideal experience for people who want to look at it.  It takes a long time to download, and viewing in a browser isn’t a great way to experience it.  Deep Zoom and HD View are a great way to solve this problem.   If you select one of these export options, then ICE will generate a web page that handles viewing these images in a much more efficient manner.  In either case, the web page uses a special browser plug-in.  For Deep Zoom this plug-in is Silverlight – which will let people interact with your panorama using any browser on PC or Mac.  You can view some examples of Deep Zoom pages created by ICE on the Microsoft Research web site

    HD View is an interesting option for those of you who want to check out Microsoft Research prototype technology.  Just like Deep Zoom, HD View allows users to interact efficiently with very large images over the web.  It has some cool additional capabilities like being able to rewarp the panorama on the fly using a fish-eye lens, auto-exposure adjust for looking into those deep shadows of the panorama, and support for wide-color-gamut monitors.  The HD View web page has some great examples to look at.

    WLPG Integration

    For most of your panorama creation projects WLPG probably does everything that you need it to do.  However, at times you may need to do some of the more advanced things mentioned here.  So, I encourage you to download ICE and give it a try.  Oh yeah, just like WLPG, ICE is free.  Finally, I need to mention the integration with WLPG.  Once you’ve installed ICE, you’ll see a new menu item in the WLPG “Extras” menu, as shown below.  You simply select a group of images and launch ICE using this menu item.


    -- Matt Uyttendaele, Microsoft Research

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Tree in the way? No problem!


    One of the cool things about panoramic stitching in Windows Live Photo Gallery is that you can use it to shoot around foreground objects.

    Here’s an example from the Woodland Park Zoo where branches (and a fence) prevented me from getting a clean shot of two Zebras in a field. However, by repositioning my body for the source images (to shoot around branches) and later stitching the images together, I was able to easily get the image I wanted.

    Here’s a diagram of how I shot through the trees:


    Here are the three source images with the tree branches highlighted:


    Here is the resulting stitch image. No branches! :)

    2009-02-05 Grant and the Zoo 099 Stitch

    To see a few other interesting uses of panoramic stitching, check out this blog post.

    - Mike Morrison, Program Manager

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Tell me more about Windows Live Movie Maker beta


    Our very own JP is at it again over on the Windows Live team blog. He just posted a very quick update on Windows Live Movie Maker (Beta). Check his post out: Tell me more about Windows Live Movie Maker beta

    Quick snippet from his post:

    So, for the beta release of Windows Live Movie Maker a few months ago, we focused on making sure we had these key functionalities running smoothly first:

    • adding digital photos and videos easily
    • making editing commands easier to find with the new Ribbon user interface
    • publishing movies quickly and easily

    We know we still have a lot of work to do to get Windows Live Movie Maker ready for final release. We’ve been reading your feedback and comments on the first Windows Live Movie Maker beta post and are working to add more of the features and functionality we hear you asking for. Rest assured, there’s lots more good stuff to come.

    - Digital Memories Experience team

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Check out AutoCollage


    Hi, I’m JP Wollersheim. I’ve posted here before. My family takes tons of photos. One challenge we have is how to display multiple photos on one “canvas” to tell a story.  There are great products in the market that tell a linear story like Windows Live Movie Maker, Windows Live Photo Gallery screensaver, Windows Media Center, or Windows Live FrameIt.  These products allow you to put together a set of photos and view separately in a linear fashion – one at a time.

    There are times when you would like to see all your photos on the same screen or canvas as a collage. There are products to do that, however, typically they require a ton of work to look good.  The example below took me about 25 minutes to create and it’s still not exactly what I was looking for.  The square edges are a bit jarring, and it’s super difficult to get all of the photos in the template that I was given. 


    Microsoft Research solves problems like these so your photos really come to life.  Our Cambridge Innovation Development team in Microsoft Research built AutoCollage (30-day free trial and If you like it, it’s only $14.95) which enables users to build a beautiful collage on seconds. Check out the difference using the exact same 12 photos:

    Here’s how I did it:

    1. Download AutoCollage

    2. Start Windows Live Photo Gallery and find your photos you want to use.  From Date taken (a) I selected July 2008, and (b) searched for “Lucy.”  I then (c) organized by rating, and used all my 4 start photos. Here’s a trick:  (d) Click on 4 star, it will select all of those photos – so you don’t have to select them one at a time.

    3. Next, I launched AutoCollage by selecting Add to AutoCollage... from the Extras menu.

    4. Photo Gallery launched the AutoCollage application with the photos I selected and had it do its magic. From the Options menu in AutoCollage I chose to make the finished composition the same size as my screen resolution so the correct aspect ratio and dimensions would be chosen and the finished photo would look good on my computer.

    I used the slider to tell AutoCollage I wanted to use all 12 of the photos. 


    5. The final output looked like this. 


    6. Next I selected Desktop from the menu on the right and saved it as my desktop background.  It was that easy!


    - JP Wollersheim, Product Manager

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Latest version of Windows Live Photo Gallery fixes publishing issues


    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 (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

    Synchronize photos on two computers!


    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

    I'm a PC and I'm 4 1/2


    A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to meet an super sparkly 4 ½ year old girl named Kylie.  She was a fantastic little person who showed the world how to send an email of her sick fish, Dorothy, to her family. It is truly amazing to see how anybody – be it 4 or 90 – can easily use the amazing photo tools that the Windows Live team has built. 

    Last night on TV, her commercial was debuted. Check it out:

    JP Wollersheim, Product Manager

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    mobile photo publishing

    These days, more and more mobile phones have built-in cameras and access to the internet. Did you know you could publish photos to right from your mobile phone today?

    A picture is worth a thousand words. When I had an enormous pile of dishes to tackle I could have written a quick message on my profile about it, but I instead opted to instantly let my friends and family know the gravity of the situation by posting this photo:


    Braden Kelley has written an excellent, step-by-step set of instructions on how to setup your account to accept mobile uploads. Check out his post here:

    Publishing Photos from your Mobile Phone

    Once you’re setup, you can use your phone to keep your friends and family up-to-date with what you see and do while you’re on the go! Just be careful, after you start publishing photos while you’re on the go like this you’ll have a hard time stopping.

    -- Alex Schokking, Program Manager

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Changing the way you share your photos


    You've imported your photos into Windows Live Photo Gallery and worked to make them perfect by:

    · Straightening them.

    · Identifying the people in them.

    · Applying black and white treatments.

    · Fixing things like lighting and red eye.

    · Adding some captions, tags, and ratings.

    Leaving you with a great collection where you can easily find your favorite shots. Now what? How about sharing your photos!

    You can use Photo Gallery to send photos by e-mail, burn them to a CD, print them, or even order prints. Did you know there is a cooler way to share photos? By publishing them online, your family or friends on the other side of the world can enjoy them in a really easy way. It's faster than waiting for a CD or prints, and you don't have to worry about huge attachments filling up anyone's inbox.

    Publishing photos online was possible in the previous version of Photo Gallery, but we've been busy making it even better – so let's review the steps so you can see the improvements. 

    First, select the information you want to share with the photos. If you don't want to publish captions and tags, don't worry—we have a new option to control this. Remember that although the information may not be visible through a website, it will still be in the photos if someone downloads them, so make sure you remove it before you publish the photos. The information will only be removed from the photos you publish (the files on your computer won't be affected.)

    By default, all the information in your photos is shared. If you want to change this setting, just click the File menu, click Options, and then click the Tags tab. You'll see six different check boxes to control the information that will be shared. You can choose to share all information except a certain category (location information, for example) by clearing just that option. You can share just one type of information by clearing the all the options except the one you want to share. You can even clear the Include file details check box to remove all the information shown in the window and any other information in your photos (author, copyright, and rating for example).


    Now you're ready to publish!

    Select the photos you want to publish, and then click Publish. You may notice the options have changed here; you can now share albums on Windows Live Groups and Windows Live Events! But let's start with the basics and select Online album. This will allow you to publish on the new Windows Live Photos. If you're not already signed in, you'll be asked to do so.


    Next, select the album to which you want to add the photos, you now have the option to create a new album or select one of your existing ones in the same window so you don’t have to go back and forth between them if you change your mind.

    · For a new album: Just type a title and select a permission level. You can share with everyone on the Internet (public), with just the people in your Windows Live network, or keep it just for you. Later on, you can edit the permissions on the web if you want to share the album with only specific people or if you want to let others contribute to the album.

    · For an existing album: If you already created albums before (maybe in Windows Live Spaces some months ago), you'll see those listed, with the most recently updated at the top. Just select the album you want.


    We also have a new option to let you select the size in which your photos will be uploaded. Large is selected by default because it's a good balance between photo size (1600 px) and file size. With this setting, your photos shouldn't take too much time to upload. But if you want to upload photos in their original size, you can. Or, if you want to publish the photos quickly and don't care too much about the photo size, you also have the Medium option. Photo Gallery will remember your choice so you don't have to change it every time.


    When you're ready to publish, just click Publish, and you're done. Tip: In our new version you can double-click an album to publish into it instead of selecting it and clicking the Publish button.

    A window will appear to tell you how the upload is going. You can minimize the window and continue working. You could even start another upload and queue as many publish jobs as you want!


    When the upload is complete, you'll get a confirmation that includes a View album button. Click this button to not only see the album online, but also view the slide show as visitors will see it, send a link to your friends and family, and more.


    Voila! Your pictures are available for viewing online and all your captions and people tags will be there.

    If you want to publish your photos on Windows Live Events or Windows Live Groups instead of on your own personal page, all you have to do is select the corresponding option from the menu. You'll get a list with all the events or groups you're part of so you can select the appropriate one. Your events are listed chronologically and your groups are listed alphabetically. Tip: You can double-click an item in the list to select it instead of clicking Next.


    After you choose an event or group, you get the list of albums for that event or group so you can select one or create a new one. Then just follow the steps earlier in this post for publishing an online album. Notice that the permissions options will only be available for owners or organizers and that some options (like publishing into certain albums or creating new ones) may not be available depending on the settings of the event or group.

    Lastly, the new version of Photo Gallery includes an option that lets you publish photos easier into the albums you use the most. As you start publishing, you may notice that the latest Windows Live albums you published into appear on the Publish menu. If the album is for an event or group, you'll see the group or event name in parentheses.


    If you select some photos and click an album on this menu, the photos will start uploading right away.

    So go ahead and try it out if you haven't already. Enjoy sharing your photos and albums with the world or with the people you choose and let us know what you think.

    - Ana Lilia Otero, Program Manager

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Quickly find your best (or worst) photos


    Our family takes a lot of digital photos and videos.

    I imagine that someday my 2 children (Serena and Lucy) will want to see what sorts of things they did as they grew up, so my wife and I—and even the kids—snap shots of all the fun things we do as a family. 

    Sounds great, right? Well, it is, but the hard part comes when you want to  find, print, or create a scrapbook from some of those photos.   So to deal with that challenge I’ve put together my own system, which also works for my kids and wife—and you. And I’m confident that 20 years from now, people will still be able to quickly find their favorite photos and videos.

    Here’s what we do:

    We have a bunch of different cameras, and at any point in time there are photos on some cameras that have not been taken off.  I’ll get the camera, plug it into the computer, sit with whoever took the photos, and we’ll quickly rate them.  Five minutes tops.  Then, to the ones we have 3-, 4, or 5-star rated, we add tags based on people, places, activities and captions for specific things we may want to find later.  Again, this takes maybe 5 minutes max. You do not need to spend a lot of time doing this.  Just nail the basics. The most important thing here is to determine what is important to you personally. For my parents, for example, they do a lot of travelling in South America, so their tags are mainly about places. For me, I focus on people, so I have lots of tags about people. You should determine what works for you and make that your structure. 


    At any rate, once you have developed a system for getting the photos on your computer tagged the way you want them, then the filtering part becomes a snap with Windows Live Photo Gallery. The way I think about it is that you can use the left tabs as your first cut at your photos.

    Imagine I just wanted to quickly print all 4- and 5- star photos of Lucy from 2008. Use this easy process to get that view on your photos:  (1) Select Date Taken and then 2008.  (2) Then type Lucy in the search box.  (3) Then you select 4-star and higher in the filter menu on the top, and all of the photos and videos of Lucy that are 4- and 5- star in 2008 will be in the view.  (4) Then you select Arrange by and select type.  (5) Next, right-click the background at the bottom and select Sort by -> Date Taken in the menu.  (6) Finally select Photos in the top bar, and that will select all of the 4- and 5-star photos of Lucy. 

    From there you can print them.  (7) I prefer to print online, so I click Print and Order Prints. Walgreens is on my way home from work, so I click Walgreens and Order Prints. Walk through the order process and you are done!


    It’s a snap :)


  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Windows Live Essentials is ready to download


    From the Windows Live team blog

    … today we’re releasing the final version of Windows Live Essentials, our suite of downloadable programs for your Windows PC. You can get Windows Live Essentials, including Messenger, Mail, Photo Gallery, Writer, Toolbar, and Family Safety, all for free from (Windows Live Movie Maker is also available, but remains in beta.)

    Check out the great Windows Live Essentials and let us know what you think as always!

    - Digital Memories Experience team

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Windows Live Essentials beta refreshed


    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:

    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

    Our new Photos web service is LIVE!


    We're excited to report that the completely redesigned 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 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

    New publish plug-ins available for Photo Gallery and Movie Maker!


    Do you share photos on Facebook? What about sharing sharing videos on YouTube? Well thanks to Will Duff, one of our developer interns this past summer, there are now a couple of brand new publish plug-ins for Facebook and YouTube available for download.  Both plug-ins enable you to easily share your photos or videos with just a few clicks!

    LiveUpload to Facebook is a plug-in for Windows Live Photo Gallery Beta that makes it easy for anyone to upload their photos to Facebook. The plug-in takes advantage of the new people tagging in Photo Gallery, too!  This means that when you tag your friends in Photo Gallery, if you’re also Facebook friends with those people, those tags will automatically appear on the published photos on Facebook. Pretty cool, huh? 

    Some of the LiveUpload to Facebook plug-in features:

    • Add multiple Facebook accounts.
    • Quickly and easily upload your photos to Facebook, including any people tags added in Windows Live Photo Gallery Beta.
    • Upload your pictures to an existing album or create a new one.


    LiveUpload to YouTube is a plug-in for Windows Live Photo Gallery Beta and Windows Live Movie Maker Beta that makes it easy for anyone to upload their videos straight to YouTube.  For example, once you’ve quickly created that exciting new video using Movie Maker, simply click the Publish button and choose LiveUpload to YouTube to share it!


    (Note for developers out there… The people tags, along with other metadata, are exposed as part of the new Publish API. Please see the SDK for more information. Plus, Will was also super kind enough to share his approach with the community by posting the source to both of these plug-ins on CodePlex.)

    Finally, don’t forget to let us know if you’ve built your own Photo Gallery or Movie Maker plug-in that you want to share. We’re keeping a list of plug-ins that we know about on our plug-ins download page.

    Michael Palermiti, Program Manager

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Give your photos the Black and White treatment!


    One of the top feature requests after last year’s release of Windows Live Photo Gallery was for the ability to convert photographs to black and white. We listened, and are happy to introduce this feature to you!

    We realize there are some photos that just deserve the extra attention. Those photos, such as those captured on your graduation or wedding day, have their own special content, mood, and colors. We wanted to cater to these differences, and thus built six black and white effects from which to choose from.

    Black & white filters use the colors in your original photograph to determine shades (from black through gray to white) in your black & white photograph.  By adding a colored filter to your photograph when converting it to black and white, you can create some dramatic and stunning black and white images.

    Try out the yellow and orange filters for your portrait and landscape images. The yellow filter, which darkens blues and greens slightly, works well on landscapes by adding subtle contrast between the sky and the white clouds and between the green tones in foliage. The orange filter, which creates stronger effects than the yellow filter, darkens blues and greens while lightening the yellow, orange and red in an image. This filter provides greater definition to fine details. For example, it differentiates flowers from surrounding foliage and also creates a more striking sky by making the blue sky darker and enhancing the white clouds. To add a dramatic touch to your outdoor images and create strong contrast effects, give the red filter a go. This filter, which significantly darkens blues and greens, causes blue skies to be shown as almost black while making the white clouds pop. This filter is also a good choice to capture fine details in still-life photography. 

    Additionally, various effects can be achieved by coloring your B&W image with certain tints. Give your images an antique or aged look with the Sepia tone, or an artistic touch with the Cyan tone.

    <a href="" target="_new" title="Black and White Effects">Video: Black and White Effects</a>

    [Direct link]

    First select an image and click on the Fix button in the command bar at the top. This will bring up the image to edit with the Fix pane to its side. To access this feature, click on the Black and white effects button. Converting your image to black and white is simple – just select any of the six effects that are available. Experiment and play around with the different settings provided to find the one that you like best!


    Arwa Tyebkhan, Program Manager

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Authoring a Publish Plug-in for SmugMug

    This is a guest post from Omar Shahine. When we announced an internal beta of our new Publish API a few months ago he jumped right on it and within a few days built his Smugmug plug-in. If you’re a Photo Gallery user that also happens to use Smugmug to share photos AND videos, then this plug-in is for you!  Check out the plug-ins download page (more plug-ins are coming soon). Anyway, enjoy Omar’s perspective. –Michael Palermiti 


    Hi There! My name is Omar Shahine and I’m a Program Manager on the Hotmail team. I also happen to be a photography enthusiast and long time reader of this blog. The Photo Gallery team asked if I’d blog about my experience building a Publish Plug-in for SmugMug, my photo sharing service of choice. [download Publish on SmugMug]

    Let me start out by saying that I’ve already authored an uploader for SmugMug called Send to SmugMug. This is a .NET program that I wrote many years back to simplify and streamline uploading pictures from the Windows Shell to SmugMug. It’s gotten popular over the years and I’ve added lots of features. Send to SmugMug was originally written for Windows XP, which seems like a long time ago for me.

    Why author a Plug-in?

    When Windows Live Photo Gallery was released last year I started to use it for all my photo management. Both my wife and I feel it’s the easiest product to tag, rate, and organize our photos. We have over 30,000 pictures right now and since having our first child almost 2 years ago we take a LOT of pictures and upload to them to SmugMug to share with our friends and family. In fact, we’ve developed an interesting workflow. My wife and I rate all our photos and anything with a 3 star or higher rating gets uploaded. Things with 2 star ratings we keep, but don’t share or play through our slideshow screensaver on our TV powered by Windows Media Center.

    Our basic philosophy on ratings is to use the pyramid system (where there are very few 5 star, and very many 3 and 2 star):

    • 1 star: throw away
    • 2 star: keep, but don’t share
    • 3 star: good picture, this is the majority of our ratings
    • 4 star: analog photo album quality
    • 5 star: good enough to put in a picture frame in the house or office. we have very few of these

    Why am I telling you this? Well Photo Gallery lets you easily view and filter by rating so uploading pictures with 3 stars or higher is as simple as clicking a button to filter and then publishing, something not possible in the Windows Shell.


    Since we use Photo Gallery a lot, it got to be inconvenient for us to keep having to use the Windows Shell and Send to SmugMug to upload our photos. So when the Publish Plug-in SDK was sent my way a few months ago, you can imagine how excited I was to start writing some code :-).

    Authoring a Plug-in

    You might wonder how long it took me to write the Publish on SmugMug Plug-in. Not long. All in all I would say I spent 3 days working on the plug-in. The first day was mainly downloading and examining the Sample Flickr Plug-in and setting up my project in Visual Studio 2008. I spent the next day writing code and creating the installer. On the third day I created an auto-update feature and created the web pages and such to host my Plug-in.

    Of course one thing that helped me tremendously was that I already had  a bunch of code that talked to SmugMug using their API. If you are starting from scratch and have no code at all to talk to a publishing service it could take longer.

    What Publish on SmugMug does

    It’s pretty simple really. Much simpler than the Flickr Plug-in (due to the differences between Flickr an SmugMug).

    1. You select a photo, or video, or combination of any number of them.

    2. You then select Publish on SmugMug… from the Publish Menu


    3. You are asked for your username and password for SmugMug


    4. You then select a Gallery to upload to, or create a new one:



    5. You then click Publish


    You can then click View to be taken to the uploaded Photo or Gallery.



    How I wrote Publish on SmugMug

    If you are like me, then there is only one thing you need to figure this out. Just download the Sample Flickr Plug-in and start messing around! I didn’t read any of the SDK docs, although they are there if you need them. The overview doc is a good place to get an understanding of what you need to know if you have to see flow diagrams before looking at sample code.

    The basic idea for any Publish plug-in is going to be:

    1. Collect the user credentials and log into the service
    2. Create a “container” for the uploaded items or allow selection of an existing “container”. In this case a container can be an Album, Gallery, Folder etc
    3. Upload the selected items in Photo Gallery supplying any necessary meta data to the service (I provide Caption, Keywords, and People Tags).
    4. Handle progress and errors
    5. Supply a URL the user can use to visit the site when the upload is complete

    What I did was:

    1. Create my own registry entries for my Plug-in
    2. Reviewed the Flickr Plug-in to get an idea of how the call flow worked
    3. Figured out what parts of the Plug-in I needed to rip out and replace with my own code
      1. Replace the UX in the Sample with my own dialogs and screens using the default ones as a starting point.
      2. Stubbed out the functions that I would need to talk to SmugMug
      3. Replaced that code with code from my SmugMug API (which I mentioned I already wrote previously). If you are talking to a new Publish service I would recommend writing a class library to handle all the API logic
    4. Create a new installer using the built in Visual Studio Setup project and add the necessary registry entries to register the Publish Plug-in.

    The only interesting issues I ran into writing my plug-in were:

    • The API expects that you will be dealing with file streams. I had to modify my API to support passing a file stream rather than just a path to the photo.
    • The SessionXml is where state is stored, and you cannot assume that any state in your code will be persisted as Photo Gallery will invoke your code with each photo. So don’t store things in static variables expecting them to be there on each call. You can persist whatever you want in the SessionXml object.
    • If you need to store things across sessions like username and other information you can use PersistXml. I already store my stuff in the Registry so I had no use for this.
    • If you want to include People Tags with the tags in the photo on upload you must explicitly get them from SessionXml

    That’s it! I hope you enjoy Publish on SmugMug or creating your own Publish Plug-in. 

    Omar Shahine, Lead Program Manager on Hotmail

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Straighten up!

    Have you ever found yourself fumbling for your camera to capture one of those beautiful, yet fleeting moments? Your child’s first steps, your pet’s picture-perfect pose, or the run-in with your favorite celebrity… in those moments, keeping your camera perfectly straight and steady was probably not a very easy feat. :)

    And don’t forget about those times when Mother Nature makes it just as hard to keep a steady hand… that rocky cruise across the lake, or trying to get the perfect shot of your new puppy before he knocks the camera out of your hand.

    Well, help has arrived! Now you can use the straighten photo feature in the new beta version of Windows Live Photo Gallery to correct your crooked images and help make those special photos perfect. Here’s how.

    First, select your photo and open the Fix pane by clicking the Fix button in the command bar. To straighten the photo, just click the Straighten photo button in the Fix pane, and that’s it. Your picture will automatically be straightened!

    If that doesn’t do the trick (we try, but we can’t get it exactly perfect every time), or you just want to fine-tune your photo, you can use the slider to adjust the angle. Move the slider to the right to rotate the image clockwise or to the left to rotate it counter-clockwise. Also, you can use the grid provided to help align your photo perfectly. When your photo is just the way you want it, click the Apply button. Voilá!

    An example of a picture before:


    …And right after clicking Straighten photo:


    We hope you enjoy this new feature. Happy straightening!

    Arwa Tyebkhan, Program Manager

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

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


    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.


    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:


    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.


    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.


    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

    Making movies is getting a lot easier (cross post)


    Eric Doerr, he leads the Program Management team for Digital Memories (a.k.a. the Photo and Video team for Windows Live), blogged about the brand new Windows Live Movie Maker beta today over on the Windows Live “Wire”.  He covers a bit of Movie Maker history, some information about the new engine behind the scenes, rethinking the user interface, and embracing the web.  His post should help frame the direction that Movie Maker is heading in during it’s new beginning.  He also answers the question, "Where are all the features?"  Check his post out...

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Why “people tags”?


    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.


    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

    Photo Gallery beta cheat sheet


    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:  


    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.


    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.


    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

    Next version of Windows Live


    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!  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

    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

    ShutterSpeed – Episode 2 is posted!


    We're back again with a new episode of ShutterSpeed, a relatively new online photography show for photo enthusiasts.  In episode 2 Nic Fillingham (host) is joined by Bill Crow, Jeff Greene, and myself.

    We talk about a handful of topics including Photosynth on CSI, Microsoft Pro Photo Tools with geo-tagging, and I give a hands-on demo of Windows Live Photo Gallery from importing your photos to doing some quick tagging and editing.

    ShutterSpeed Episode 02

    If you want to watch a high res version or download a version to your favorite device, you can! iPod (MP4) | MP3 | PSP (MP4) | WMA | WMV | WMV (High) | Zune

    Feedback? Comments? Suggestions? Please let us know via the comments section below or email  Thanks!

    - Michael Palermiti (Program Manager)

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Extreme panorama!


    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

Page 1 of 6 (135 items) 12345»