Microsoft has an appealing new program for displaying and sharing your photos. There is no shortage of photo programs and online services, but if you haven’t committed to any of them yet, Windows Live Photo Gallery looks like a reasonable place to start.

Windows Vista ships with a very nice, simple program for photos, Windows Photo Gallery. The free new program, Windows Live Photo Gallery, is an enhanced version that replaces Windows Photo Gallery on Vista, and can also be installed on Windows XP.

Windows Live Photo Gallery is similar to Google’s free program Picasa. It presents thumbnail images of your pictures; helps import new pictures from your camera; does most day-to-day editing tasks; assigns tags to photos for sorting them out; and assists in creating projects and posting the photos online for sharing. Both programs are reasonably easy to use. Adobe Photoshop Elements is a far richer program in every respect, but it’s also more difficult to learn and daunting for some people.

Flickr is one of the most popular online sites for sharing photos. An updated version of Windows Live Photo Gallery was released today that permits publishing your photos to Flickr with a single click. Here’s a Microsoft blog with details about the integration with Flickr. There are dozens of online photo-sharing services, each with its own quirks and capabilities and requirements. Flickr is one of the prettiest and easiest to use, so this puts Windows Live Photo Gallery a step ahead.

I have long advised people to pick an image editing program and stick with it, learning it thoroughly, instead of dabbling with four or five programs. The same thing is true of the photo-sharing sites. You may outgrow one or discover its weaknesses, but that’s not wasted time – you’ll have learned things that will serve you well when you move up. If you’re already committed to a program, don’t switch to Windows Live Photo Gallery without a very good reason. If you haven’t started having fun with your photos yet, this is a good way to dive in!

Share This