For many people, Windows Live Photo Gallery is the best program for displaying, tagging, and doing light editing of photos. It’s free, attractive, and helps you do simple photo chores without the mind-numbing complexity of Adobe Photoshop Elements. Sure, serious photo junkies will use Photoshop, Lightroom, or other programs, but Windows Live Photo Gallery is just right for the rest of us.

When you log in with your Windows Live ID, you can share photos online directly from Windows Live Photo Gallery. It’s an alternative to Photobucket, Flickr or Picasa with a nice online presentation (see the picture above) and a huge 25Gb free storage limit. Many people are using Facebook to share photos, which has some genuine advantages for Facebook users. Everyone else might find that it’s easier to share photos online with Windows Live Photo Gallery than with the other services.

Microsoft holds your online photos in its Skydrive online storage, and just published some interesting statistics to convey the scale of its operation.

  • Microsoft makes four copies of each uploaded photo on their global servers to reduce the chance that data will be lost in an equipment failure.
  • Then the system makes nine additional copies of each photo in different sizes so they’re ready for anything from thumbnails to slideshows. The square thumbnails in the picture above, for example, are stored in three different sizes, and created using smart software that identifies the most interesting part of each image rather than just taking a square piece from the center.
  • The numbers are staggering, like so many things in the world. Five million photos are uploaded every day to Skydrive; by the time they finish making extra copies and thumbnails, Microsoft is storing 65 million images a day. Two billion photos were uploaded last year.

The Microsoft blog post also has some information about sharing online photo albums – so all the photos from an event can be gathered together from different people, for example – and how privacy controls work. Interesting stuff!

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