Facepalm Time Again

I see that Microsoft has at last introduced a much-requested feature into their Photos app for Windows 10. Unfortunately, this being Microsoft, the feature is half-baked and not useful. Let me explain.

With the Fall Creators Update, the Photos app started to be able to recognise faces in photos. There was no way to add names to the faces, or to group photos of the same face together under one name, as we could do in Microsoft’s Windows Photo Gallery 2012, but at least it appeared as though Microsoft was starting down the road to make the Photos app more useful by adding People Tags.

There’s now at last a build (2017.39101.16720.0) of the Photos app released to Windows Insiders that allows you to assign names to faces. However, the names are local to the PC on which they are done, so they reside in the local database of the Photos app, rather than being written back to the file as metadata. That means that the information does not travel with the file. If the file is held in OneDrive, and accessed from another device, the People Tags are not available to that device. The experience is broken. If you want the People Tags to be available on the new device, you have to go through the manual process of adding names to faces again (and again and again on each new device that the files are copied to).

What is truly depressing is that Microsoft helped define a metadata standard for tagging faces in the Metadata Working Group – and that standard has been available since 2010. It’s been implemented in products such as Adobe Lightroom, Photo Supreme and Google’s Picasa, so People tags created in any one of these products travel with the file, and can be read in any of the others.

Here we are in 2018, and Microsoft still hasn’t learned how to build a seamless experience for People Tagging.

And to add insult to injury, the Search facility for descriptive tags is also still broken.

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.
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10 Responses to Facepalm Time Again

  1. rickcrume says:

    Thanks for your insights. Are People tags created in Windows Photo Gallery compatible with Adobe Lightroom and other programs?

    • Geoff Coupe says:

      The People tags in WPG use a Microsoft-defined XMP schema. Adobe’s Lightroom does not use this, and so People tags defined in WPG won’t be seen in Lightroom. Photo Supreme is able to import the Microsoft People tags, and will convert them to the Metadata Working Group standard for interoperability. I believe that Picasa can do the same.

      • rickcrume says:

        Thanks, Geoff. I use Windows Photo Gallery, a program that Microsoft no longer supports. So it’s nice to know that someday I’ll be able to convert my People tags for use with another program.

  2. Mark says:

    It always amazes me how Microsoft epitomizes the “left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing” philosophy. I suspect the people working on the People Tags have no mandate to follow the standard or even knew there was one. It is apparent in every level of Microsoft, either as a cultural thing or a inefficiency thing.

    • Geoff Coupe says:

      I agree, and there was even a time when the NIH (not invented here) philosophy was very apparent in many areas of Microsoft.

      Back in 2006, there were keen amateur photographers in the Microsoft team working on their photo software. They held fast to the maxim “the truth is in the file”, and even blogged about it. The results of their labours was Windows Photo Gallery, which, despite a few shortcomings, was very good, and far in advance of that miserable excuse for an app that Microsoft now foist on us.

      Of course, the team’s blog on the MSDN site has long since disappeared into the great bit-bucket in the sky, Windows Photo Gallery is now longer supported by Microsoft and the original members of the team have long since moved on.

  3. Pingback: Microsoft Photos – Still a Disaster After All These Years | Geoff Coupe's Blog

  4. DaveL says:

    Geoff, did you create a feedback hub item for these issues? If so, can you give us a title or something we can use to find it and vote it up?

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