Microsoft Digital Image Pro 9 is a new version of Microsoft’s high-end program for working with photos and scans. The interface is slightly updated from last year’s version, and there are a handful of new tools and filters. If you’ve been using Digital Image Pro already, check the list of new features to see if they address some specific need.

Most people are familiar with Adobe Photoshop, the program used by most graphics professionals, so Adobe Photoshop Elements has sold well despite having the most difficult interface and steepest learning curve of any program I know. If you’re in the market for a program to work with your digital photos, consider Microsoft Digital Image Pro, similarly priced at about $90. It’s almost as powerful but far easier to use.

A few months ago Adobe released an appealing program named Adobe Photoshop Album for organizing collections of photos and allowing easy searches by date or subject. Microsoft isn’t selling its program separately, but it has added a similar organizer to the confusingly named Digital Image Suite 9. The suite – Digital Image Pro and Digital Image Library – sells for about $130.

If you want more information about what these programs can do, here’s an article about Digital Image Pro and Digital Image Library.

Microsoft’s organizer, Digital Image Library, integrates well with Digital Image Pro and looks perfectly nice. Even though I’m using Microsoft’s program for editing photos, I decided to stick with Adobe Photoshop Album to organize my photos. Using these organizers involves a significant commitment of time to assign keywords to each photo identifying the people in each picture or the location or the occasion. (It’s easier than it sounds.) The programs then maintain a catalog of your pictures and the keywords. If the program stops being supported, your efforts will be for naught.

Microsoft’s commitment to graphics is uncertain. It burned me when it discontinued Photodraw and abandoned Photodraw’s proprietary file format, leaving me with many files that can no longer be opened or edited. (Digital Image Pro saves files in standard formats.) I feel more confident that Adobe will continue to support Photoshop Album – it’s a natural fit for Adobe in this era of digital cameras.

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