Microsoft’s Photo Gallery – Yet Another Missed Opportunity?

As I wrote in my last post, Microsoft has recently released a new version of Windows Live Photo Gallery, now simply known as “Photo Gallery”. That last post documented an issue that Photo Gallery has over its handling of geotags. In this post I want to look at what I would consider to be missed opportunities by Microsoft to set the lead in the field of software aimed at organising digital photos.

Microsoft is a founding member of the Metadata Working Group, a consortium of leading companies in the digital media industry, focused on the following goals:

  • Preservation and seamless interoperability of digital image metadata
  • Interoperability and availability to all applications, devices, and services

Almost two years ago, in November 2010, the group published version 2 of its Guidelines for Handling Image Metadata. As I wrote at the time, it’s “a major new version of the Guidelines”. The document states:

This expanded specification builds on existing metadata standards to describe several emerging consumer properties that:

  • Use regions to record faces, focus points, barcodes, or other data in an image
  • Provide hierarchical keywords to richly describe and classify images
  • Flexibly identify an image as part of a greater media collection

While software applications are supporting features such as people tags and hierarchical keywords, they use differing implementations, so that interoperability between applications is difficult, if not often impossible.

Version 2 of the Guidelines was an attempt to define a common specification in these areas, to drive interoperability forward.

What I find disappointing is that, nearly two years later, the new version of Photo Gallery has not implemented any of these proposed specifications, and continues with the old Microsoft-proprietary ways of doing things, despite the fact that Microsoft is a founding member of the Metadata Working Group.

Still, the same charge can also be levelled at Adobe, another founding member. Their latest version of Lightroom, Lightroom 4, also continues with the Adobe-proprietary ways of doing things. The result? You can forget about any real interoperability between Photo Gallery and Lightroom when it comes to People Tags and Hierarchical Keywords.

One last, rather ironic, point. Despite the fact that Google is not a member of the Metadata Working Group, I’m heartened to see that Google has actually implemented the version 2 Guidelines proposed standard for People Tags in version 3.9 of Picasa. So it can be done. C’mon Microsoft and Adobe, get with the programme, give us tools that actually talk to each other…

About Geoff Coupe

I'm a British citizen, although I have lived and worked in the Netherlands since 1983. I came here on a three year assignment, but fell in love with the country, and one Dutchman in particular, and so have stayed here ever since. On the 13th December 2006 I also became a Dutch citizen.
This entry was posted in Computers and Internet, Photography. Bookmark the permalink.

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