Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

Official blog for the Windows Live Digital Memories Experience 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

    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

    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

    Windows Photo Gallery Introduction


    My name is Scott Dart, and I'm a Program Manager on the PIX Team. By now, some of you may have heard bits and pieces about the new Windows Photo Gallery in Vista, but that has probably been pretty light on details. Over the coming days and weeks, we’ll be posting a number of articles to fill that in.

    Let’s start with the name – Windows Photo Gallery. That’s actually not entirely accurate. The Gallery is not just for your photos, but also for your personal videos. We like to think about the Gallery as a place for your digital memories. Not your clip art, not some movie trailer you downloaded somewhere, but content that was authored by you (or someone you know). You’ll hear us talk mostly about photos (just for convenience), but pretty much anything that you can do with a photo can also be done with a video. We'll try to point out the differences as they come up.

    Before we start talking about the Windows Photo Gallery in too much detail, I thought that it would be helpful to give you a visual overview of the various parts of the Gallery, so you can see how they all come together.

    You can think of the Gallery as having two modes: a Gallery mode where you can browse through all of your digital memories, and a Viewer mode, where you can get a closer look at individual photos and videos.  Roll over the picture below to see what's what.

    • The Navigation Tree is what you browse your digital memories with. Clicking anywhere in the tree shows you all the items under that branch.
    • The List View is where you see the actual thumbnails of your photos.
    • You can type in the Quick Search box to find items that have a particular word or phrase.
    • The Toolbar is where the most important tasks are exposed. Some act as menus, as well.  
    • The Info Pane shows additional information about the item or items selected.
    • The Navigation Bar is used to move through your photo collection, zoom in and out, rotate your photos, or delete them.

    When you open a photo, the gallery enters Viewer mode, showing you your picture as large as will fit. The Viewer can either show the Info Pane or the Fix Pane (illustrated below), which allows you to make simple fixes to your photos.

    That’s it for the visual roadmap. We'll be going into more detail on each of these areas shortly.

    Scott Dart - Program Manager

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Metadata and the Windows Vista Photo Gallery


    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

    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

    Canon RAW Codec for Vista release


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

    • Visit
    • 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 Kiss Digital X
    • EOS 350D DIGITAL
    • EOS Kiss Digital N

    - pixblog

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Movie Maker Vista File Format Support


    We've had some questions about what file formats are supported by Movie Maker on Windows Vista. Hope this helps!

    Movie Maker can import a wide variety of video and audio formats.  The format refers to the container which contains the audio and video streams.  The audio and video streams are encoded using a codec which determines how the audio or video is compressed. 

    The following summaries the key format containers that Movie Maker supports:


    • DV-AVI (AVI)
    • Windows Media Video (WMV, ASF)
    • DVR-MS (Windows Media Center Vista Premium and Ultimate only, DVR-MS)
    • MPEG-2 (MPEG-2 Program Streams on Vista Premium and Ultimate only, MPG)
    • MPEG-1 (MPG)


    • WAV (WAV)
    • MP3 (MP3)
    • Windows Media Audio (WMA)

    When a file is imported in Movie Maker, Movie Maker will open the container format and then use DirectShow to determine what codecs are required to decode the audio and video streams.  Just because the format is supported, for example AVI, doesn’t mean the required codecs are installed on the machine.  Given the wide range of codecs available this can cause confusion.  If the codec required to decode the video is not available, the file will not be properly imported.  For example, if only the audio codec is available for a video file, the video will be rendered as black.   

    One of the most popular container formats is AVI.  AVI files can contain a wide range video codecs, for example, the AVI video stream maybe encoded with MPEG-4 video.  Assuming you have installed the proper video codec, Movie Maker will import this content.  Movie Maker will always attempt to import the media file and if the proper DirectShow filter is registered, the content will be imported.   

    Most solid state video cameras include the required codecs that can be used by Movie Maker to import the file.  Devices use a wide range of file formats and codecs so it’s difficult to provide a detailed list of supported device and formats.  Typically, if the video file can be played in Windows Media Player, Windows Movie Maker can import the content.  If you cannot playback the file in Windows Media Player, check to make sure you have the proper codecs installed on your machine.  If the codec is not installed on your machine, download the codec directly from the manufactures web site.  It is recommended to only install the codecs that you require. Also keep in mind that DRM protected content cannot be imported into Movie Maker. 

    When publishing your movie from Movie Maker, Movie Maker can publish video files to DV-AVI, Windows Media and Windows Media HD.  Movie Maker provides a set of predefine Windows Media profiles targeting the most common scenarios, but you can also create your own custom profile.  On Vista Premium and Ultimate, you can also publish your videos directly to DVD. 

    Related articles: (Windows XP)

    - Michael Patten (Program Manager)

  • Windows Live Photo & Video Blog

    Resizing Photos in Windows Live Photo Gallery


    One of the top pieces of feedback we received after the release of the Windows Photo Gallery was that there was no easy way to resize photos.  Well, you asked for it and now you’ve got it in the Windows Live Photo Gallery!  Resizing one or more photos is very simple and takes just a couple of steps.  First, select the photo or photos you want to resize.  Then, go to the File menu and select the “Resize…” option (you can also find the “Resize…” option in the right click context menu).  Once you’ve done this, a simple dialog shows up.

    Resize dialog

    In choosing a size, you can select a few presets from the drop-down menu or type in your own custom size.  We only ask for one number because we will set the longest side of the photo to that size.  For instance, if you have a landscape being resized down to 600, the horizontal dimension will be 600 pixels wide.  If you have a portrait being resized down to 600, the vertical dimension will be 600 pixels tall.  Basically, when you specify the maximum dimension, you are defining a bounding box.  In the example above, the bounding box is a 600x600 square, and all of your photos will be resized to fit within that square while maintaining their aspect ratio.  Photos will only be sized down, so if the specified dimension is larger than the longest side of the original photo, the photo will not be resized.

    Once you’ve picked the size, you can choose a destination folder to save the newly resized photos.  Then, it’s as simple as clicking “Resize and Save” to complete the operation.  All resizing is done using high quality bicubic interpolation and all files are saved as JPEGs.

    - Karthik Anbalagan (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

    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

    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

    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

    RAW Support in Windows Vista


    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

    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

    Windows Vista Slideshow


    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

    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

    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

    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

    Announcing the Windows Live Photo Gallery, Beta 1


    On 6/27, we launched the first (limited*) beta release of the Windows Live Photo Gallery! Windows Live what??
    The Windows Live Photo Gallery is a new application that will be a free download as part of the Windows Live suite of applications. If you’ve used the Photo Gallery in Windows Vista, this application will be very familiar to you (only better). We’ve been working hard in the months since Vista shipped (has it only been a few months??) to add in some key new features based on your feedback:

    • Windows XP SP2 support: Did I mention that the Live Photo Gallery runs on Windows XP SP2? That was actually a fair amount of work in itself, but we think it was worth it to make these experiences available to a broader set of users than just those who have Windows Vista. Due to differences between the platforms, not all features will work 100% the same on XP SP2 as they do on Vista. For example, slideshow will be better on Vista (if your hardware supports it).
    • Publish to Spaces: We’ve heard from a lot of people that they want to publish their photos online to share with their friends and family members. Windows Live Spaces is a great tool for doing this, and the Windows Live Photo Gallery will make it easy to select a bunch of photos, and publish them directly to your Windows Live Space.
    • Import: We heard loud and clear that people want more control over how they import their photos - which photos get imported, what folders they go in, etc. You asked, we listened.
    • Panoramic Stitching: One of my favorite features from Digital Image Suite was the ability to take a set of overlapping photos and stitch them into one panoramic photo. We’ve brought this feature into the Windows Live Gallery.
    • More Fixes: More granular control over exposure.
    • Simplified Navigation: We’ve removed some of the lesser-used options from the navigation tree, and added some new controls to let you quickly pivot the way you view your photos. 

    That’s a high level view of the changes you’ll see introduced in this beta. We’ll dig into each of these areas over the coming weeks to provide more detail, we just wanted to give you a little taste of what’s coming up. You can read the official announcement here.
    Of course the Photo Gallery isn’t the only feature in the suite (it’s just our favorite – what can I say, we’re biased). When the suite is launched, it will include all sort of things, like Windows Live Mail, Windows Live Messenger, Windows Live Toolbar, Windows Live Writer, Windows Live OneCare Family Safety…the list goes on. It’s going to be a lot of fun in Windows Live land over the coming months – stay tuned!

    * The audience for this beta is by invitation-only. If you didn’t get an invite, just remember – patience is a virtue. It will be worth the wait! 

    - Scott Dart (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

    Nikon releases NEF RAW codec for Windows Vista


    It feels like only a few days ago when I was discussing the RAW codec architecture on this 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:, 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

    Photo Gallery is now on Microsoft Update


    This is a special shout-out to our BETA program participants!

    At our last estimate, the Windows Live Photo Gallery BETA was installed by nearly 3 million users worldwide. Our BETA testers give us feedback, report bugs, and even yell at us when we make stupid design decisions – all of which helps us delivery high-quality products. Thank you to you all -- our BETA testers rock!

    We recently deployed Windows Live Photo Gallery 2008 via Microsoft Update – If you have Microsoft Update enabled on your PC and had the BETA installed, then your BETA build should have been upgraded to the final release build (version 1308.1023).  Go check it out! If it wasn’t auto-upgraded, you can either launch Microsoft Update and do a scan for new updates, or go back to  and manually upgrade to the final release build.

    - Kristen Miller (Program Manager) 

  • 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

    Geotagging Photos with Windows Live (without using a GPS device)


    I love travel – seeing new landscapes, new cities, and expanding the list of places I’ve been. Of course,I don’t have the opportunity to go everywhere all the time, but I still want to see what different places around the world are like. I also want to send pictures to family and friends after a trip to show them where I’ve been and what I’ve seen. As a result, I’m a bit of a geotagging junky. I love recording and organizing where I’ve taken my photos, as well as knowing where – exactly where – others have taken their photos.

    Geotagging, for many people, implies going on trips with a camera and a GPS receiver, and then using some custom software to tag all the photos with the GPS data after the trip. Being one who loves geotagging, I have a confession, though: I have never owned a GPS device.

    So, how can I geotag photos and share them with family and friends? I can explore the world virtually through many different mapping applications that combine both maps and photos. Some of these allow geotagging (a la Flickr, et al), but that records only individual photo’s locations, not a full tour. What I’ve found out is a way to play around with the Live Maps Collections feature to create a photo tour. So, for those who want to create simple photo tours to share with friends and the world (and don’t want to deal with GPS), here’s how.

    This week I’ll show a straightforward, 2D method of creating geotagged collections of photos. This article is only the first of two parts. The second part will show how to take advantage of the 3D features of Virtual Earth to make a fuller video-like geotagged photo tour so you'll want to look out for that post!

    Building a Geotagged Set of Photos

    There are three parts to building a geotagged set of photos. The first is to upload the photos that I want to tag. The second is creating the geotags, which is done using the Virtual Earth collections. The last is to attach the photos to items in the collection. As a note, you will need a Windows LiveID to be able to create and save collections as well as upload photos.

    Step 1

    We do this step for you. Simply upload the pictures you want to tag to Windows Live Spaces using the Windows Live Photo Gallery. The first step is covered in a previous article so I won’t repeat it here. Once you’ve uploaded the album you want to tag, view the album.

    Step 2

    Creating a Collection

    Now open another browser window and go to Once you arrive there, sign in (in the upper right-hand corner). You can now create a new collection and save it with your Live ID. Click the “Collections” link in the upper right-hand area of the page and click “Open your collections”. It’s OK that if you don’t have any yet. You can make them after you follow the link.


    When you’ve clicked the link, you should get something like this where you can add your new collection:


    I’ve already got my collection sitting here (“Moving to Washington”) so I’ll show you how to create an additional collection. Simply click “New Collection” and fill in the blanks. It should look as follows:




    Make sure to turn on sharing if you want your friends to be able to see it. And if you don’t mind the general public seeing it, let the “Make this collection searchable” box stay selected.

    Adding Geotags/Pushpins

    Arriving at this stage, you can now add items by clicking the pushpin button at the bottom. Don’t be confused by the text in the box talking about “Add to collection” like I was – that’s just for adding items found using searches. We’re not doing that here.

    So next, I’ll show how to add geotags. Live Maps uses pushpins to mark places on a map – just like how people put pins in wall maps to show where they’ve been. We add pins to a collection and then add photos to those pins.

    Adding pins is simple, just open you’re collection and click the “Add a pushpin” button at the bottom of the “Collections editor” window. In 2D with the “Hybrid” map view, it looks like this:


    After clicking to add a pushpin, click on the map to place the pin. Here’s what shows up:


    This is the same location as the 2D, but I’ve rotated the view (I’ll show why next week). Now we can add a couple of details about the point, which is our geotag for a photo. Next, we tie a photo to the pushpin, which we have two ways of doing. The first is using the album that I created by uploading from the Live Photo Gallery. The second is to use Live Maps’ upload tool, which I won’t show here since it’s pretty easy.

    Tagging Photos

    To add a photo to the pushpin I created, I go to the window I left open from Step 1 that’s viewing the album I just uploaded to Live Spaces. I select the photo from the album I want and view it.


    On the right, there are a bunch of options to play around with. Here, we’ll hack the “Embed” feature to get what we want. Click the “Embed” link (underlined in the picture below). When you do, some options will show up down below the album area. Here we’ll use the “Copy” feature of the “Emed this photo” box.


    When you do, some options will show up down below the album area. Here we’ll use the “Copy” feature of the “Embed this photo” box. (Make sure to click allow on the dialog that comes up if you’re using Vista).


    Now, we paste this link into the geotag pin we created in the collection and clean it up by removing the HTML. The pasting and cleanup looks like this:

    PinAddedDelHeadIMG-(2)  PinAddedDelTailIMG-(2)


    Delete the highlighted text shown in the images above. Now just click “Save”, and you’ve geotagged your photo! If you notice, there’s a 3D tour option when you’re using the 3D mode. I’ll show how to use that next week.

    Do these steps for as many photos as you want. When you’re done, simply click the “Actions” link next to the “My Collections ” link and choose “Send in e-mail” to send a link for your friends and family to view your tour.


    Of course, one of the cool things about collections is that the more people use it, the more photos that can be explored. Speaking of exploring, here’s the link (!103&encType=1) to the collection I created that’s a tour of the places I went through when moving from New Jersey out to Redmond to work for Microsoft.

    Let us know what you think! What works and what doesn’t with geotagging? What do you like about geotagging and what are cool ways you think to geotag photos? What are cool ways to explore other’s geotagged photos?

    - Tim O'Connor (Software Development Engineer)

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