If I were ever to return to work for Microsoft, one of the first groups I’d look at is the Windows Live Group because they are putting out some of the best Microsoft products I’ve used in years. While Vista, Office and Xbox titles garner the lion’s share of press, the Windows Live group continues to churn out great products such as Live Messenger and Live Writer. They don’t receive the hype of Vista but they are far better products in my experience. Vista works the way Microsoft dictates you should work while Windows Live products work the way I work.
In spite of my many problems with Vista one feature I liked was the way it handled photos. When I moved back to XP I decided to install Google’s Picasa Photo Organizer which does a nice job as well. Over time, it felt a bit too tied into Google’s other properties. I was happy to hear that Microsoft decided to offer the same photo management application found on Vista to XP users through a program called Live Photo Gallery.
Tell Photo Gallery what folders to watch and it automatically loads your pictures into its database making it easy to tag, search, view and publish. It also includes several basic editing tools similar to those found in Picasa. My experience so far has proven to me that there are still groups at Microsoft who are passionate about end users. Photo Gallery is incredibly intuitive and works the way I work. It doesn’t try to replace more powerful programs like Photoshop. It’s primary a photo viewer with a few simple tools tossed in to round out the offering. But what it sets out to do, it does very well and it worth a test run even if you’ve happy with Picasa or another photo management product.
Kudos to the Windows Live team for creating yet another great product. Picasa comes off my machine tonight.