The upcoming version of Windows Live Photo Gallery, a key component in the Windows Live Essentials suite of applications, is going to offer a ton of new features which will make the application even better than it was before.
Ever since its initial release, I’ve used Live Photo Gallery exclusively to organize, edit, tag and upload my photos to various social networks including Windows Live, of course, and Facebook and Flickr via plugins.
However, in the new release, plugins will no longer be necessary – social sharing is built in. You can instantly publish to Facebook, Flickr, SkyDrive, SmugMug, YouTube (yep, it handles video too) and more. Email, of course, is still available as well, but it now uses SkyDrive to get around the attachment limits and size issues. When you attach photos to an email message, you’re now uploading them to SkyDrive and giving recipients permission to view them there. Since most of my friends and family members are on Facebook, I don’t have need of this feature often…well, except for that one family member who’s still a Facebook holdout.
For photo organization, the new Photo Gallery improves the previously available facial recognition feature (which identifies faces but required manually tagging) to one where faces are automatically identified as being associated with that person. You can then search through your photo collection by these so-called “People Tags” to find all photos of that person.
One of the more exciting new features is the Photo Fuse technology, which came out of Microsoft Research. Already getting early coverage on sites like TechCrunch, where it’s dubbed “impressive,” this feature lets you easily combine the best parts of similar photos, “fusing” them into a single perfect shot. (Great for the family photo where someone’s eyes are closed – just merge the best of the multiple shots together for one great photo!)
These changes and more will become available when the new Windows Live Essentials suite rolls out – which should be very soon!