In the recently updated collection of tools from Windows Live, one of the apps which received a makeover is Windows Live Photo Gallery. This weekend I finally had the opportunity to play around with the new service, and I must admit I really love it. The first thing I noticed right away is that the UI had a makeover. The toolbar is now white and some of the buttons that used to be up top (rotate and delete) are now down in the bottom right, leaving room for more menu options instead (File, Fix, Info, Publish, Email, Print, Make, Slideshow, and Extras). However, although there are new menus and options available, the overall feel is one of being better organized and simpler to use.
The most exciting new addition to Live Photo Gallery is facial recognition. Of course I had to check this feature out right away. Now when you’re viewing a photo, Live Photo Gallery recognizes the people in the photo and draws a box around their face so you can identify them with the new “people tags.” What’s really clever about this new feature is the way it integrates with Windows Live Messenger. If you’re signed into Live Messenger, you can scroll through your Live Messenger contact list, which appears as a drop-down next to the person’s face when clicked. You can select their name from the list that appears. If your contact list is long, you can also search the list just by typing in the search box at the top. If the person in the photo isn’t in your contacts, I found the easiest way to identify them is to just type their name into the search box anyway and then click the “add new person” option. This adds them to your list of people to choose from in the future.
You can also identify people quickly just by selecting the pictures that they’re in and clicking "add a people tag." Since I was already so organized as to have a whole set of photos in a folder with the person’s name (I know, that's crazy!) I was able to select “Ctrl” + “A” to select all photos of a person and then add the people tag to all the photos at once.
From Live Photo Gallery, you can share photos directly on the Windows Live Photos web site (part of Windows Live Spaces). If any of your contacts have photos shared publicly, you will see them within Windows Live Photos and you can even download them into your own albums if you so desire.
In addition to publishing on Windows Live Photos, you can also publish photos to Flickr, or any other web sites that offer a plugin (more on that later) via the “more services” option from the right-click menu.
Overall, the new software offers a much-improved update to the older version of Live Photo Gallery and is definitely worth the upgrade. You can get this and all the Windows Live updates from download.live.com.