The DMX (Digital Memories Experience) team at Microsoft who’s responsible for Windows Live Photo Gallery and Movie Maker made an announcement on their blog today following the release of Windows Live Wave 3 web services. Here’s what the team have to say about the new Windows Live Photos service:
We’re excited to report that the completely redesigned photos.live.com 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 photos.live.com 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.
We’ll take a more in-depth look at this brand new service from Windows Live at http://photos.live.com
Windows Live Photos is actually built on top of Windows Live SkyDrive, hence the storage space of 25GB will also be shared with the files you store in SkyDrive. The initial Photos home page shows you the most recently updated albums you have, and also the “What’s New” feed that’s limited to the scope of your network’s Photos activities.
Going in to your album you’ll see large thumbnails of all your photos in that album, like the screenshot shown below:
Here you’ll be able to manage your photos, including changing the view to details, thumbnails, or icons. You can also download your photos using Windows Live Photo Gallery (not working at the moment, as Scott mentioned earlier), download everything in the album as a zip file, order prints from HP directly from here, edit viewing and editing permissions of your photos, and perform operations like rename, delete, copying and moving the photos between folders. If your album is set to public, you’re also able to view the RSS feed of the album and view the embedded code for your album to be placed on your websites.
Another new feature we have here is to view the album as a slideshow, powered by Silverlight. Pretty cool effects with the background glow colour determined from the photo itself. If you don’t have Silverlight installed, you won’t be able to see the thumbnails on the right as shown in the pictures below and there won’t be full-screen mode. Here’s what the slide show mode looks like:
Clicking on each of the photos in the album will let you see a larger image of your photo, together with options to allow you to download the photo and People Tag your contacts in your photo. It also display extra information about the photo, such as the caption, date taken, sharing permissions, dimensions, camera model, and the embed link. At the bottom it will allow other users (if the album is shared) to leave comments about your photo. Note that photo commenting can be turned off by going to Options.
The new photo upload tool, instead of using the legacy Windows Live Spaces one, it is now the same as the SkyDrive Upload Tool. If installed, users are able to drag and drop photos into the browser and upload them directly. However, with Windows Live Photos, users are able to choose whether to upload the photo in original size, large (1600px), or medium (600px). Notice that although the monthly maximum upload limit is removed, each file still has a limit of 50MB, although I don’t see why your photo would exceed 50MB.
One particular thing to note is that your original Spaces albums are automatically migrated to Photos. However, it actually requires one more step from you. You’ll notice that your old Spaces album will have the address ending in a sequence of letters and numbers, and that the thumbnails in your album aren’t as crystal clear and neatly organised as what was shown in the screenshots above. Windows Live Photos requires you to “update” the legacy album with a single click, as shown below. Following this, your album will have an address that actually ends in the name of the album, and the thumbnails will be neatly packed into square blocks.
Another interesting aspect for Photos is the “Home page photos”. This is a default album which allows users to upload the images/photos they wish to be placed on the upper-right hand corner of their Windows Live Home page. This is pretty neat and allows some extra personalisation to your homepage.
I won’t cover the photo sharing, permission, and files and folders moving/copying/renaming aspects of Photos as these are essentially the same as Windows Live SkyDrive, and Scott had provided a great review of these already. We will also cover the integration between Photos and Photo Gallery in the future once the “release candidate” of the Windows Live Essentials suite gets released.
In conclusion, this is a really neat improvement over what we originally had in Spaces. To experience Windows Live Photos yourself, go to http://photos.live.com and start uploading your favourite albums!
Update: Just some clarification, the Photos/SkyDrive storage space for Groups and Events is actually 5GB instead of each individual’s 25GB.