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Jun 29 2010

Review: Windows Live Photo Gallery–Wave 4 Beta


image thumb21 Review: Windows Live Photo Gallery–Wave 4 BetaThere’s never been a product from Microsoft that I would use to manage my photos or documents. Microsoft has always been too rigged on how they want to do stuff, it never flowed well enough to use on a regular basis.

There’s a funny thing about Microsoft; when they’re considered the underdog, they really start putting effort back in to their products to bring them back up, and you can this in Windows Live Photo Gallery.

Microsoft has apparently been paying attention [recently] to the new Internet and how social and how digital media is important; viewing it, editing, posting…

There’s some good improvements in the Windows Live Photo Gallery…

Here’s what I found…


The Main Form

image thumb22 Review: Windows Live Photo Gallery–Wave 4 Beta

The initial view give you the most options. Windows Live Photo Gallery is hoping that everything you’ll need on a basic level is going to be right there for you. Some of the functions you’ll see under the HOME tab are duplicated under other tabs.

The folders for the images [once imported] are placed in the left hand column/frame, by date. If you’ve devices, those are there to import your images/media.

And from anywhere you can adjust the size of the images.

image thumb23 Review: Windows Live Photo Gallery–Wave 4 Beta

 

 

HOME

image thumb24 Review: Windows Live Photo Gallery–Wave 4 Beta

 
Importing

image thumb25 Review: Windows Live Photo Gallery–Wave 4 BetaI didn’t like the importation of the images; I expected more flexibility there. The default import option seems to be focused on pulling from cameras and other devices. But I really was expecting to have an option to import/select just one folder from there.

It probably wouldn’t be that hard to add a button to select a folder, but this is a beta- they may get enough input to add this option

 
Rotate Images

image thumb26 Review: Windows Live Photo Gallery–Wave 4 BetaRotating the images is a basic function of any photo organizer; it has to interact with the images/files seamlessly. I’m listing this out as a problem feature in the beta; I had problems with this in the beta.

When I was previewing images in Windows Live Photo Gallery, as a full image, the application lagged a lot. The rotation wasn’t working properly- I had to move to the next item to see the results and my testing- it wasn’t consistent and the performance here as bad; very bad.

It kept telling me ‘applying changes…’ and would never go away.

But if I rotated the images as thumbnail- I had no issues and the rotations were fairly fast.

But this is a beta…

 
People Tag/Detection

image thumb27 Review: Windows Live Photo Gallery–Wave 4 BetaWindows Live Photo Gallery has a tagging feature to identify people and then an auto tag option to attempt to figure out which people where which.

When you switch to a new picture it does a pretty good job of identifying faces; even some you didn’t notice before.

I would say this is a good first effort; it doesn’t work well enough. Google Picasa already has this option, it’s very intuitive and the way Windows Live Photo Gallery does their detection, it’s not bad. It seems to learn the more you tag people.

It works really well in situations where the persons face is in a portrait position, but when it thinks it finds a match, that’s not already tagged, it asks ‘Larry?’ and you’ve to make the confirmation.

I was expecting more of an auto-search and present function. Where it’d search all my photos, find what it thought might be those people and I could confirm them- I didn’t see that.

 

Geo Tag

I can see where this would be fascinating. I didn’t find a lot of use for it right off, but as technology progresses, maybe the phones and the cameras and the video recorders will have GPS awareness. Maybe the devices will know where you’re when you take your pictures.

This could be interesting.

 

Exporting

image thumb28 Review: Windows Live Photo Gallery–Wave 4 BetaI like the exporting options again; like Windows Live Movie Maker. Microsoft has their options in the first and last positions [wise spots], but they’ve Facebook, YouTube and Flickr.

And as shown, Microsoft seems to have learned that plug-ins or expansion ability is the way to go.

You can add a plug-in to export to your destination of choice.

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/pix/archive/2008/09/17/plug_2d00_ins.aspx

There’s not much there now and the website looks disturbingly puny, but if given the chance the website and plug-ins can be improved and built upon.

Again, it’s a beta…

 

EDIT

image thumb29 Review: Windows Live Photo Gallery–Wave 4 Beta

The ribbon interface is a real problem with this application. It’s not intuitive enough. When I click on an image, most likely I’m going to want to do something with it. This application makes no attempt to attempt to figure this out.

I expected to se the application fly to give me options about this image. I expect to see details about it… what can I do with it? where can I export it?

The most information I get is the image details to the right and to me this is all wasted space. It could be so much more productive.

Now, if I actually select the image and the EDIT option- this works, but again the ribbon interface isn’t working for the betterment of this application. It’s not productive. I really feel hindered by this…

image thumb30 Review: Windows Live Photo Gallery–Wave 4 BetaThere are some standard features [auto adjust, noise reduction, color and exposure], but the one that stood out to me was the Straighten option.

It’s something you don’t see in a lot of programs by default. I’ve used PaperPort from Nuance, and it’s in there, but not other applications. It’s almost like a premium function; so it’s good to see it here.

I’m not stating it’s not organized, but it’s not productive enough for me. I don’t like having to click all over the place. It makes me dig for all the functions I need to get to.

This section is a disappointment.

 

FIND

image thumb31 Review: Windows Live Photo Gallery–Wave 4 Beta

I didn’t see any issues with the FIND tab.

If you’ve people that are tagged already, you can click the user and the application pulls all the images of that person.

image thumb32 Review: Windows Live Photo Gallery–Wave 4 BetaThe suggestion to Windows Live Photo Gallery would be to open search by default. With all the space that’s un-used here, there’s no reason to make the user dig for it. But in their defense they did put the option to PIN the search option to the page…

That was a good option.

 

CREATE

image thumb33 Review: Windows Live Photo Gallery–Wave 4 Beta

Windows Live Photo Gallery has done a good job here with this export section; they call it CREATE… Panorama, stitching pictures together- that was cool, but the one that really takes the cake it the Photo Fuse- this is cool.

Photo fuse takes two photos [or more] that are similar in composition. Say one image is great, but the eyes were closed and the other is just the same, but the eyes are open; this function fuses those two pictures together to get the best outcome. It’s worth playing with… If nothing else, but to be evil…

Windows Live has apparently been working a lot on the integration between the other Windows Live applications. Email, Blog and Movies- you can go right there from here.

I covered the export to various services already, but it’s listed here again.

I’m glad Microsoft is putting more effort in to sharing; this is really a good move for them.

 

VIEW

image thumb34 Review: Windows Live Photo Gallery–Wave 4 Beta

I think this section is jammed with just a bunch of stuff; everything you can do to affect the display of the pictures/documents, but all the functions seem to be self-explanatory.

I had no complaints about this.

 

You can try the beta for yourself here:

The auto (all applications are installed) and manual (choose which applications to install) installers are available in English (auto/manual), French (auto/manual), Spanish (auto/manual), Dutch (auto/manual), Portuguese Brazil (auto/manual), Japanese (auto/manual), and Chinese Simplified (auto/manual).

 

In my opinion…

I think this is a good offering by Windows Live team [Microsoft] to be included as a base organizer for images and peoples media. It covers a lot of the points people expect; it’s not a high end application, but it’ll surely get the job done. And while this is a great offering, I’m going to clarify they’re still playing second fiddle to Google Picasa. If Google hadn’t come out with Google Picasa And developed and pushed so hard to get it out there, Microsoft would’ve never put the effort in to this.

If Microsoft had done this on their own, I would’ve probably been a bit more lenient, but Microsoft is obviously playing catch-up right now this brings their grade down a bit.

 

Until next time,
LEHenryJr
LEHSYS.com



pixel Review: Windows Live Photo Gallery–Wave 4 Beta

2 comments

  1. nick

    uhhhhhh….. this article is from JUNE of this year, and you say….
    "Geo Tag: I can see where this would be fascinating. I didn’t find a lot of use for it right off, but as technology progresses, maybe the phones and the cameras and the video recorders will have GPS awareness. Maybe the devices will know where you’re when you take your pictures."

    are you joking? i've had this on my phone for the last 3-4 years… Google Android phones ALL come with this, they have for a couple years, all of my photos are geotagged, so i can locate back to any of them by clicking on it on my phone, or sending the navigation directions to my phone from my pc.

    I just thought it was very strange that you acted like this is a future technology that will catch on some day in the future…. it was here when the iphone first came out, and millions upon tens of millions of people have been using it since… and now it's hundreds of millions.. :)

    1. Larry Henry Jr.

      I believe you missed a part there… I included cameras and digital recorders; I'm perfectly aware of phone GPS… While the application has the ability in it to work with the GPS information, cameras and digital recorders don't have that [yet]— I was simply attempting to point that out. So my statement is still valid; and still fascinating considering a lot of people don't even use the GPS information in pictures to categorize pictures— again fascinating that they're starting this early in the game… but everything has to start somewhere.

      But thanks for your comments… they're very appreciated.

      Until next time,
      Larry Henry Jr.

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