Quite a nice write-up from ExtremeTech:

  • Yeah: overall client.
  • Yeah: fast.
  • Yeah: acquisition wizard.
  • Yeah: overall thumbs up, “pretty slick software.”
  • Ouch: seams appearing in the stitched panoramic photos.
  • Ouch: publish only goes to Windows Live Spaces and MSN Soapbox.

Some highlights:

First, the new Live Photo Gallery (LPG) is fast. It instantly indexed the meager photos I have on my XP work machine. Loyd tried it at home where he has a ridiculous number of photos, and it managed to rip through his collection in no time.


Once we click to “review, organize, and group” photos upon import, I was very quickly treated to a pretty elegant screen for selecting which pictures I’d like to keep. These thumbnails were generated very quickly, considering these are all 10 megapixel images at the highest quality setting.


One new feature I was anxious to try out is the panoramic photo-stitch. I took four images panning around Union Square, and stitching them together is almost too simple. Just select the images in the gallery, choose “create a panoramic photo” in the Make menu up top, and this is what you get. Unfortunately, this feature still needs some work. Other panoramic photo tools let you prioritize overlapping photos with a drag-and-drop interface and see where the seams might form, this one give you no options at all. My relatively simple shot, full of nice square buildings and such, had visible seams along photo boundaries.


Overall, I’d have to give the beta of Live Photo Gallery a big thumbs up. It’s the easy-to-use photo importing and cataloguing from Vista’s Photo Gallery, improved in many important ways, and made available for both Vista and XP. Free. It’s fast, it’s simple, and for the most part, it works. Right now I have two major complaints. First, the panoramic picture creator is a bit limited and creates visible seams in the final photograph. Second, the photo and video sharing is far too limited. Interestingly, you can order prints right from the Live Photo Gallery interface from FujiFilm, Shutterfly, and Kodak—this function appears to be plug-in based, or at least open to third parties in some way. Microsoft would do well to do the same thing with photo and video sharing.

For everyday “pulling my pictures off my digital camera”, and for browsing, tagging, and cataloging your library of images, this is pretty slick software. And it’s free.

Read the whole posting: Hands-on with Windows Live Photo Gallery beta .