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Microsoft Windows Live Photo Gallery review

Microsoft Windows Live Photo Gallery

Verdict

It fits well with the Windows 7 design, and it's free - but so is Google Picasa, and we know which we'd choose

Review Date: 22 Oct 2009

Reviewed By: PC Pro

Price when reviewed: Free

Overall Rating
4 stars out of 6

Windows Vista’s Mail, Calendar, Photo Gallery and Movie Maker are missing from Windows 7, but there’s no need to panic. They’re all available – new and improved – as a separate download.

Windows Live Essentials

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

The one application in Windows Live Essentials collection we’re not completely convinced by is Photo Gallery. The reason? Google’s free Picasa application is better – better at searching, browsing, organising quick edits and sharing.

The one major advantage of the Photo Gallery is that it makes simple photo-editing and tagging facilities available in a view that fits far more naturally into the Windows 7 way of doing things.

There’s also that tight integration with other Windows applications and services, allowing you to add photographs from published albums to Writer blog posts, for instance. Like Picasa, it also offers face recognition.

But with Google Picasa offering advanced features such as geotagging, a more streamlined interface and far more mature options for editing, printing and sharing photos, we won’t be moving away to Photo Gallery just yet.

Author: PC Pro

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User comments

Video import

Just thought I'd mention that, thus far, Live Photo Gallery is the only way I've found of importing digital video into Windows 7 (short of dedicated video editing software). If, like me, you have a firewire camcorder, it seems like you need to install this to import footage.

By Bassey1976 on 22 Oct 2009

Tagging

I downloaded Picasa 3 enthusiastically after reading this article, and I really liked it for about 30 minutes until I discovered that Picasa wasn't picking up any of the tags that I'd attached to all of my photos through Windows...investigating more thoroughly, it seems that Picasa doesn't support XMP tags, which is the format that windows uses. So I'll be awaiting some standard tagging format support before I move over to Picasa 3. Shame, because I loved the face recognition and the overall GUI style.

By pbrn999 on 29 Oct 2009

Is Picasa really better at tagging, organising, etc?

You say Picasa is "better at searching, browsing, organising, quick edits and sharing." I don't know about "edits" because I haven't used either program to edit photos, but I think it is highly questionable whether Picasa is truly better than WLPG at any of "searching, browsing, organising or sharing".

Obviously some users will place more weight than others on features like face recognition and geotagging, but when it comes to organisation of large collections of photos I think WLPG's strengths put it well ahead.

pbrn999 has commented that Picasa doesn't recognise XMP tags. Nor does it seem to recognise star ratings applied in other programs (such as WLPG, Windows Explorer or Photoshop Elements). Nor does it save tags in the photo files for use in other programs and by other users. So not many marks for "sharing" ... either for importing or for exporting tag and rating information.

Picasa still seems to have no concept of organising tags in hierarchies (something users have been crying out for since version 1). To take one example of why this is needed: suppose you have some photos tagged with "Buckingham Palace", some with "Trafalgar Square", others with "St Paul's", etc., you have no easy way of selecting all "London" photos unless you can group all the tags for Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, St Paul's and so on into a London category and then filter or search by category name as well as or instead of by tag name.

Apart from the few built-in filters the searching facility in Picasa seems to be very one-dimensional. And the filters don't seem much use ... for example you can only filter for "starred", you can't filter for "two or more stars". You can't set a date range (indeed Picasa seems to present totally confusing information about dates). Look, by comparison, at how many options you have in WLPG for filtering, grouping and sorting in multi-dimensions. So, WLPG earns far more marks in my book for "searching", "browsing" and "organising".

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, WLPG is much more intuitive (to this user, at least), partly because it fits in so much better with the Windows way of doing things.

By hugheagle on 10 Nov 2009

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