Wave 3: Windows Live Photo Gallery – New Features

By Kip Kniskern | In News | Posted September 17, 2008 15 comments

Along with the Windows Live Wave 3 beta download package – comes the new Windows Live Photo Gallery that we’ve been talking about over and over again. First things first, here’s what you get when you load up Photo Gallery:

PhotoGallery_Main

Simplicity is the word to describe my first impression of the new program. They have abandoned the Vista-feel to it by reducing the bottom rotating/zooming/viewing functions to the bottom-right hand corner. The menu bar up the top is now elegant white. But for those who wishes extra customisation like Messenger offers, I’d be sorry to disappoint you that similar to the previous version of Photo Gallery, it doesn’t support changing the colours of this menu bar at the top. But hey, it’s the rich functionalities that matters more than a colour-changing menu bar, right?

People Tags

So the newest and sweetest addition to Photo Gallery, as mentioned before, is the ability to tag your Messenger contacts or any person using “People tags”. From the window above, we can see that your Messenger contact list is loaded into the left navigation bar, provided that you’re signed into your Windows Live ID. Selecting a photo and then clicking the “Add people tag” will allow you to drag your cursor and select a person’s face:

PhotoGallery_PeopleTag

Very handy feature there, it has a scroll-wheel that filters through your Messenger contact list as your type the person’s name. Here’s what it looks like when you’ve tagged the person in your photo:

PhotoGallery_TaggedPerson

Photo Sharing – integration with Windows Live Photos

Clicking on a contact’s name on the left navigation bar will bring up all the photos that have the person tagged in. What is not shown in the following screenshot is the new integration with Windows Live Photos. If a contact have uploaded and shared their photos on the new Windows Live Photos website, their photos and albums that have been shared will be able to be accessed from Photo Gallery also, and you will be able to download the entire album into you Photo Gallery, if you wish to do so.

PhotoGallery_Peoples

Facial Recognition (Updated)

Searching through your photos has never been easier, thanks to the descriptive tags (the original “tags” in previous versions) and the new People tags, you can now easily search through your library and look for the perfect photo you want…..that is, provided that you have tagged them properly, which could be a pain especially having to re-tag every person in your entire collection of photos (think how you had to tag every single photo you uploaded onto Facebook manually). And this is where the question comes in – where did facial recognition go? We hope that it will eventually make a comeback in the next beta version. (Update: Sorry guys I must’ve missed it before, turned out that facial recognition is still in Photo Gallery) This is where Facial Recognition in Photo Gallery comes in handy.

After the automatic scan by Photo Gallery to detect facial features in your photos (and this may take a while if you have a very large collection of photos), you’ll find that there will be a “People found” category when you click on “People tags” on the left navigation bar. Clicking on any of the photos with people found but not yet identified, and the following screen will appear:

Facial Recognition

You can then select the contact you want, or enter a new name not in your contact list, to add the people tags to the photo. Notice that this tool is not yet perfect, as you can see it skipped a person’s face in the photo above.

Metadata Removal upon Publishing onto the web

On the right infobar you can now see a whole lot of new information such as camera metadata, ratings, and more. When uploading your photos onto Spaces (or the upcoming Windows Live Photos perhaps?) or Flickr,  you may choose to upload these metadata or not.

PhotoGallery_PublishDetails

Developer Plug-ins Support

Yes, Photo Gallery will join Windows Live Dev, allowing developers to develop plug-ins for the application:

PhotoGallery_PlugIn 

What we don’t know is what kind of plug-ins will be available, as the link to Windows Live Dev is currently not available. Will it allow plugins such as facial recognition? Or will it be plug-ins to allow users to publish their photos onto additional photo-sharing websites (like Facebook)? Update: Windows Live Photo & Video team blog has just posted information about 3rd party plug-ins – seems like our second hypothesis was right, the plug-ins will “includes a new Publishing API that enables the community to build plug-ins for virtually any sharing service”.

Photosynth Integration and Extras

Last but not least, notice the “Extras” menu in the menu bar. In addition to stitching a panoramic photo, Photo Gallery now also integrates with the latest Photosynth technology  that was released not long ago (only if you have Photosynth installed). It’s great to see the services from Microsoft Live Labs coming into a real product:

PhotoGallery_PhotoSynth

Developers will also be able to use the Photo Gallery API to add their applications into the Extras menu. Thanks to Scott’s tip apparently Autocollage 2008 is also integrated into this Extras menu, provided you have it installed of course.

Conclusion

Overall, Photo Gallery had been a solid tool that does what it should do, and with additional features that helps you to better manage your photos and share them with the rest of the world. It is also great to see that Microsoft is progressively separating bundled applications such as Mail, Calendar, Movie Maker and Photo Gallery out of Windows, allowing additional flexibility in it’s feature set and a more focused development effort. The software, although still in beta stages, is quite stable and functional. However, it is quite disappointing that it doesn’t have the consistent look and feel with the other Wave 3 application – namely Messenger, which now even offers background themes customisation similar to the Wave 3 headers you seen in online services like Hotmail.

Read more LiveSide reviews on the new Windows Live betas:

Wave 3: Windows Live Mail – Calendar, Calendar, Calendar (and more)

Wave 3: Windows Live Writer – A First Look

Wave 3- Windows Live Messenger 9 Beta – What’s New- A Comparison With 8.5

Wave 3: Windows Live Movie Maker Beta

Posted September 17th, 2008 at 6:14 pm
  • http://www.liveside.net/members/alsiladka/default.aspx alsiladka

    For some reason, the CPU usage of my WLPG sticks to about 50%. I have about 11000 pics in my pictures folder.

    While updating the 11000 pics, the CPU usage was 100%. Was like that for about 3 4 hours!!

  • http://www.liveside.net/members/Fredrik/default.aspx Fredrik

    This Windows Live Photogallery Wave 3 Beta is truly disappointing.
    One of the most important task of a Photo Gallery is Slideshow, when inviting friends to view yours or their pictures.
    By default, Slideshow changes the monitor resolution to what was standard in the 1990s, it takes forever and all my beautiful HD pictures look like crap. It is just unacceptable, even more so when every other photo gallery application including Picasa, Adobe, even Windows XP (!!!) is able to display high quality slideshows fast, even with animation, without changing the resolution!

    Expert users can perhaps figure out that by changing the Theme (?!) to Classic, you can get better resolution. However, if the photo is large, Windows Photo Gallery uses what must be the worst resize algorithm available leading to jagged pictures. This is suppost to be version 3 of the software, and we are living in a world filled with HD televisions and HD cameras!
    Either the Live Photo Gallery team is just really incompetent or they are doing it on purpose, or maybe they just don’t care. Such a shame on this product that gets almost every other aspect right, and has such great tagging capabilites.

  • http://www.liveside.net/members/tekfan/default.aspx tekfan

    Bummer! Where’s the horizontal scroll bar at the bottom of the folder list, or the auto alignment of the folders list when F5 was hit??

    (I wish this latest version of WLPG had included a volume control when playing a clip.)

  • http://www.liveside.net/members/hUmAnzZ/default.aspx humanzz

    I love the People tagging feature but facial recognition would have been really great…I’m getting a strange behavior however when I try to tag photos using “That’s me”. It doesn’t insert my fullname as a tag, instead it inserts the xxx in xxx@hotmail.com part.
    Anyone complaining about this too?

  • http://www.liveside.net/members/luisfelipe/default.aspx luisfelipe

    Hi friends at LS Community!!!

    The http://download.live.com site is now working! And it has the new header, but not the new links…

    Thanks! ; )

  • http://nathanscott.wordpress.com nathanscott

    At least some parts of the facial recognition are there, because if you hover over the thumbnail “updates remaining” text in the status bar you’ll see “___ face detection scans remaining” in the tooltip… assuming it’s still updating the gallery.

  • http://nathanscott.wordpress.com nathanscott

    Actually, the facial recognition is working for me now, but it seems to only like certain portrait shots (doesn’t matter if they’re clear or blurry).

  • damaster

    @nathanscott: guess when I reviewed the software it wasn’t turned on fully yet then….thanks for pointing it out! will check again tonight =)

    @Fredrik: that is true. I particularly don’t like the resizing algorithm in Photo Gallery. I think XP’s built-in one does the better job in resizing/zooming in and out.

  • http://www.liveside.net/members/surilamin/default.aspx surilamin

    I like the new header, but I do not think they should drop the all the icons completely.

  • damaster

    Updated post – got the Facial recognition feature finally working. I think my gallery had way too many photos to scan last night and so I must’ve missed it while writing this. Looks like the feature is fully automated and there’s no menu items/settings/prompts that controls the feature.

  • http://www.liveside.net/members/alsiladka/default.aspx alsiladka

    With my over 11000 pics, whenever i start WLPG, its hogs 100% CPU usage for hours!!
    Even after closing it, 2 processes of the main WLPG application are active all the time using 50% of the CPU each!

    Cannot use my computer unless i kill those processes via Task Manager.

  • http://www.liveside.net/members/magicalclick/default.aspx magicalclick

    Interesting, I think this time, they are using WPF. The Slideshow effects are some of WPF strong points.

    And that laggy fade effect, I think I have seen this on photo.live.com. It is kinda strange because I made a collage slide show myself (20 pics with one fade in and fade out), the WPF fading is smooth. Can’t imagine how they messed it up, there wasn’t much code when using WPF.

  • damaster

    One new little but important feature I just discovered is the ability to rotate videos now. Previously it only allowed rotation of images. Very useful!

  • http://liveside.net/members/apollo/default.aspx apollo

    I just noticed that tagged photos don’t have the tags when viewing the photos in Windows Explorer or Windws Photo Gallery (the one shipped with Vista). The tags I assigned with the “old” Wave 2 Photo Gallery do so. I knew that this is the case with People tags, but not for the “normal” tags.
    Has someone similar experiences?

  • http://www.liveside.net/members/someone/default.aspx someone

    They removed all the beautiful icons. Don’t like. Put back the icons.