Windows Live Essentials 2011. Live Photo Gallery.


The photo gallery ribbon

As with all of the other applications in the Essentials suite of programs for your desktop, Live Photo Gallery has received some very welcome new features in the new 2011 update. Beginning with the use of the Ribbon Interface to make finding all of those really great features much easier, to a brilliant new addition to the Create tab, there is now a multitude of editing and creative things you can do with your entire photo collection. Here are just a few of my favourite new features.

Face Recognition.

You probably already know how time consuming it can be to have to work your way through your entire photo collection name tagging the same person over and over again.  Well  you don’t have to do that anymore thanks to face recognition.  Simply tag a few photos of any person who appears in your photos, the program will then begin to recognise their face and then working quietly in the background, tag all the other photos in your collection or in any new photos you import into Photo Gallery. Saves you a lot of  time and effort! If the program is not certain about a face found in any of your photo collection, it will suggest a match to you for confirmation. The more instances of someone’s face that are tagged, the more it will be able to recognize the persons face and auto tag each instance for you as they are loaded in from your camera.

Found all the photos of K


Geo Tagging.

Another well requested feature from users, Photo Gallery now allows you to geo tag your photos to add to the information about that particular photo and also aid any search for a particular photo that you might want to do. Simply choose the photo to geotag and then after selecting geotagging from the ribbon, you can add the location of where the photo was taken. 

Geo Tagging in Photo Gallery


Another of my favourite new features is the new Retouch feature. If you have a spot or a blemish (which I have!) then it can now be easily removed inside Photo Gallery. Choose the photo in question, then click on the View tab and select Zoom in so that you can view the blemish or mark close up, click on the Edit followed by Retouch then simply drag the cursor around the spot or blemish and it will magically disappear, so that all of your photos of your nearest and dearest will look perfect. (including the one’s of me!)

Covering all the greys

Covering all the greys

Photo Fuse.

This brand new feature, found under the Create tab alongside another of my favourites Panorama is yet another useful addition to the new version of Photo Gallery. Although primarily it is aimed at getting the perfect shot when you take a group photo, I think that I will tend to use it in a slightly different way. For example,deleting those shots of a building where a car drives by in one of them, and the other shot contains a person walking past. Using Photo Fuse, I can put those shots together and then choose to eliminate the people in each one that I don’t want to be visible.

Sculptures at Forster SquareForster Square Sculptures


If you take a look at my shots here where I am trying to take a photo of these sculptures,  each one has some people walking past in as this particular spot if always a very busy thoroughfare. By firstly taking three or four shots of the sculptures and then applying Photo Fuse I can easily eliminate all of the people walking past to create the perfect shot that just includes the two sculptures only.  See the finished result below.

Sculpture photo fuse

The Find Tab.

The Find tab quickly allows you quickly find any photo using a number of criteria such as by face, names, date, geo-location,descriptive tags, folder titles or any combination of those so that its now easy to find that ‘one in a million’ photo that you are searching for inside your photo collection no matter how large it is.

Find by person

Batch Editing.

In the new version of Photo Gallery its all about saving you time. You can batch edit your photos so easily. Simply highlight the photos that you wish to edit, click on the Edit tab and then apply your edits to your chosen photos from right there in the ribbon.

Batch editing

Auto Movie Themes in Slideshow.

Need to quickly create a fantastic looking slideshow of your chosen photos to share with your family and friends?  Simply highlight your chosen photos, click on Slideshow from the ribbon, choose your Slideshow theme and then click on Share Slideshow where you can then upload it to either your SkyDrive, Facebook, YouTube or Windows Live Groups to share with family and friends.

Photo Gallery Slideshow

So the new Live Photo Gallery contained in the Windows Live Essentials 2011 suite, which was already fantastic has now got even better at saving you the user lot’s of time and effort and  includes some wonderful new innovative features and sharing capabilities and best of all its free!



About technogran
A granny and a geek? You bet! Still trying desperately to keep up with it all.

110 Responses to Windows Live Essentials 2011. Live Photo Gallery.

  1. Geoff Coupe says:

    C’mon, TG, you might at least have mentioned in the small print that WLPG 2011 brings with it a number of not-so-nice features… , or the fact that

    • technogran says:

      Geoff I am well aware of your personal beef with Windows Live Photo Gallery, but the issues you have with this program are not relevant to me personally. I just use it. To edit my photos and to publish up to flickr, SkyDrive etc. So for me personally its fine. My only gripe is with the geo tagging not making use of Bing Maps.

  2. Dave Howes says:

    This program is possibly the worst of a bunch of disastrous applications, as it’s not only has less useful features than previous versions, (as do all the other new Live apps), but actually seriously degrades and corrupts your photographs.
    I would seriously advise anyone who cares at all about their photography to treat this app as you would a virus, and totally remove it as soon as possible

    • technogran1 says:

      Doesn’t degrade my photos Dave and never has. For a free program I think its fine, and unique features keep getting added to it all the time. It’s the only one you can find that allows you to share your photos with just about every photo hosting site there is.

      • Dave Howes says:

        It automatically compresses your photos to reduce the size and colour depth, messes up the exif information, and adds a lot of extra data of it’s own, (including personal data about you) which makes your photos unopenable in many other applications. And it does this when you open a photo, whether you want it to or not.
        This is what viruses do to your files…………..
        I suppose if you just want a few small low resolution snapshots to add to a website, and you don’t mind the whole world knowing who you are, where you live, your’ date of birth etc., than that’s ok. But if you want GOOD photo’s then it’s a disaster. And remember, you can’t ever change them back……
        Also, I’ve yet to see a program like this that can’t be linked into ANY photo sharing site. Most people only use 1 or 2 sites at most, so having permanent links to EVERY site is just so much useless clutter filling up your computer with junk you don’t need.

        • Dave Howes says:

          P.S……….Don’t forget that I’m a big fan of your photographs on Flickr, and there has been a definite drop in your usual high quality since you have been using this. Admittedly I use a particularly high quality monitor, but surely that’s what a site like Flickr is all about – quality.

          • technogran1 says:

            Ahh! That’s probably explained Dave by the fact that recently I have been uploading them in 1600 pixels format for quicker upload time and not at their default resolution which with my new Sony is massive and takes an age if I have lot’s of them to upload.
            Will upload at their maximum size for my next upload to flickr so you can check out whether that improves things.

  3. Dave Howes says:

    The problem isn’t only the overall size of the picture in pixels, it’s the amount of jpeg compression imposed by the program. There is no way that the original detail of the picture can be maintained once it’s been opened in the program. Also, I don’t see why all the information about you held by Windows Live is written into each picture! A very dodgy thing to do, and you have no say in the matter. Also, details of any of your friends picked up by the face recognition software are also spread about the internet. Do you really want that?

    • Geoff Coupe says:

      Dave, your point about the face recognition software is probably valid. I don’t actually know how much of a risk it is, but I think it’s at least worth being aware of. See

      Most people aren’t aware of it, of course.

      • technogran1 says:

        Okay you two, how does Picasa deal with all this meta data and face recognition? Is it the same, and how does the ordinary user know how to access all of this personal info in the first place? I certainly have never seen any of it by clicking on someone’s photo done in Photo Gallery.

        • Geoff Coupe says:

          TG, Picasa deals with face metadata differently, at least at the moment. Unlike WLPG, it doesn’t store any of the face metadata in the image files themselves, but only holds it in its local database.

          That has the advantage that you’re not unwittingly spreading information about people in your photos when you publish them online, but it also has the disadvantage that it is difficult to share this metadata when you want to. See here for example:

          There are other threads on the Picasa Help forums discussing this issue. The thing is, I’ve seen in one of the threads (don’t have it to hand right now) one of the Picasa developers saying that they plan to change the mechanism in the future, and store the metadata in the files, i.e. a similar approach to Microsoft. Picasa will probably have its own format for this, but I’ll bet that they include the Google Contact details for each face that is identified…

          • technogran1 says:

            So. Is including the meta data a bad thing then if others on the Picasa forums are actually asking for it to be included? What do users want or need this meta data for? And although here we are discussing info connected with photos, aren’t we just talking about a minute piece of info when looking at the info such as Facebook keeps and allows to be used by its apps etc not only about you but also about your friends and family?
            Let’s face it Geoff, if you want things kept private and that no one can access, then don’t share it on the Internet! Every thing you do on the Internet can be accessed by someone with the knowhow.

  4. Geoff Coupe says:

    TG, this is a reply to your last comment… Users are asking for face metadata to be included so that the person tags can be more easily shared with minimum effort – just like in WLPG. Sharing metadata is not necessarily bad – it all depends on what the metadata is. And that’s the point, most people haven’t a clue on what they are already revealing about themselves to the world via the information they unwittingly share.

    The point is: be aware of what you are sharing…

    For example, someone geotags a photo of their house with WLPG 2011. They subsequently upload it to Flickr, and forget to remove the geotag. Subsequently, they announce on Facebook that they’re off to Spain for a holiday for two weeks. Now someone has two pieces of information that they can use: the house address, and the fact that the house will be empty for two weeks…

  5. JL says:

    Wow. I’m glad this post got some feedback so people have at least half a chance of hearing the reality of Windows Live Photo Gallery. “Cute” as it is, technogran, it’s done extreme damage to my photo collection, numbering over 12,000. I’ve spent the past month already restoring what I can from backups and expect to be at this for several more months.

    Thanks, Geoff and Dave for dropping in and trying to give this lady a lift off her air mattress. But … she seems determined to stay there.

    • technogran1 says:

      JL I am NOT determined to stay there at all. In what way has it damaged your photo collection JL? Dave tends to blast just about every Windows Live application that he can so do be aware of that. If Photo Gallery damaged my photo collection in any way, then I would stop using it and tell the team why!
      That has never occurred and I have been using Photo Gallery for a long number of years.

      • Dave Howes says:

        That’s actually far from true. I have been using Photo Gallery since it came out, and I would be lost without it. The pre-wave 3 version is a superb little program, small, fast and efficient, and with high quality editors licensed from photoshop. The quality and functionality is superb. The same goes for the rest of the Live Suite from that time.
        It’s just that from Wave 3 onwards Windows Live has gone rogue elephant on us, and, especially with the latest releases, have started producing huge lumbering dinosaurs of programs, with less useful features, lots of resource-hogging clutter, and, by and large, designed for use by absolute idiots. The only reason for using face recognition anyway is sheer lazyness, (or maybe the inability to remember how to spell complicated words like ‘Tom’).
        Another point in case is what they did to the original Windows Movie Maker which, whilst basic, did at least make movies! The latest version should be renamed ‘Live Slideshow Maker’, ‘cos thats all it does (not even a simple timeline for God’s sake, I used to run a freebie version for Windows 95 that has more editing features than this!!!!!).
        Live Gallery 2011 DOES lower the quality of your pictures, DOES screw up the EXIF data, to the point where some websites or programs can no longer open your pictures, and DOES insert easily extractable data about you and your’e friends. There’s no point in arguing about that, it’s all easily provable, and has been proved by many people all over the web. If you take a picture of your house, and Photo Gallery geotags it, I know where you live (to within 3 meters). If you upload a photo while you’re on holiday, I know your house is empty…………… good job I’m not a burglar!
        The only reason Live get away with this is because of the huge number of Microsofties who wet themselves with excitement every time they come out with something new, regardless of whether it’s good or bad. Microsoft produce a lot of superb stuff, including the only operating systems I would ever dream of using seriously, but, as I said before, the Windows Live team have gone rogue, and although all rogue elephants were magnificent at one time, sooner or later you have to put the gun to it’s head and pull the trigger.

  6. JL says:

    Well, Dave does a darn good job above describing the damage … “It automatically compresses your photos to reduce the size and colour depth, messes up the exif information, and adds a lot of extra data of it’s own…”

    I don’t know Dave personally. So I don’t have your advantage of being able to pass judgment on him. What he says sounds right on to me comparing my own experience.

    WLPG was uninstalled from my computer several weeks ago, about a week after receiving a computer with Windows 7 for the first time, but I still have the damage to deal with and the cleanup will go for months. The Microsoft team has been informed by myself and others and, in fact, was informed by several people months ago, and so far I haven’t heard any method offered by them to reverse the damage WLPG did to my photos. It took some screaming on Twitter to get their attention at all.

    To be clearer, I don’t use Flickr. I’m not a social butterfly, I’m a family historian who collects and restores old photographs. Mine is a collection of years and years of labour.

    And since I’ve been writing about the Windows Live Photo Gallery disaster for the past month, I will direct you to some of my posts.

    Windows 7 Live Photo Gallery: GPS Nightmare

    Windows Live Photo Gallery: EXIF Damage

    Windows Live Photo Gallery Cleanup Begins”

    The last one is a misnomer because I had already spent 100 hours or so cleaning up the GPS mess before I realized the photos had also been subjected to compression and EXIF damage. Then I started all over again.

    I don’t mind your delight with Windows Live Photo Gallery, but I do think you might make clearer the superficial manner in which you use it. Apparently, it was built just for your style. Your review is breezing right over the top of it and you want to argue with anyone who’s trying to tell you this software, and really any software, runs deeper. People like Dave and Geoff are watching out in the deeper end, and lucky for that I would say.

    • technogran says:

      So. Let me get this straight JL. How many users do you think will actually use a free Photo editing program such as Live Photo Gallery in the way that I use it (as you so describe as ‘superficial’) compared to how you three use it?
      If you are not happy with any program included in the free Windows Live Essentials suite then simply use another program such as Photoshop. That sounds as if it will be better suited to your needs. Mine? they are perfectly served with Photo Gallery thank you very much, and this is why I bothered to do this post.

      • Geoff Coupe says:

        TG, that sounds rather like the “9 billion flies can’t be wrong” argument… 🙂 I’m not disagreeing that thousands (millions?) of users will happily use WLPG 2011. I’m simply pointing out that the application could have been a lot better than it has turned out to be.

        I was perfectly happy to use earlier versions of WLPG both for myself and other family members, and recommend it to others. But WLPG 2011 has not turned out that way. Like Dave, I judge Microsoft by the best that they can produce, and WLPG 2011 simply isn’t up there.

        • JL says:

          Technogran, clearly this is not the program for me. But, if Microsoft designed Windows Live Photo Gallery for idiots (and an email from their Project Manager spelled out that is, in fact, their intention) then it should have been clearly marked on the package, not something for me to find out after having 12,000 photographs damaged by it.

          • JL says:

            And, by the way, I didn’t ‘use’ Windows Live Photo Gallery. I wouldn’t dream of subjecting my precious heirloom photos to something as ridiculously simplistic as WLPG. All I did was open it to have a look at what was there. At that point, WLPG stomped right in and made changes to my photographs that it deemed appropriate – adding false GPS, compressing them by up to 75% and screwing with the EXIF.

            That’s the most insidious part of this; the mentality going on over at Microsoft. The gall of thinking they can ‘handle’ my possessions better than I can and doing it in the name of ‘good’.

          • Greg Edwards says:

            Microsoft doesn’t design their WL programs for idiots per se, but they are so easy to use that if you can’t manage to do use them properly, you may very well be one. 😉

  7. technogran says:

    Well, I’ll certainly let the team know of your concerns and see what they have to say about all of this. I’ll report back here once I get their feedback. Okay?

  8. technogran says:

    Right guys. Thanks to this post by my friend Ludwig who is a very keen photographer and uses Photo Gallery himself, you can remove ALL meta data from being included in your photos when they are uploaded. Read his excellent post here about it You can choose to include such meta data as the camera used, tags and captions but remove other data or you can remove the lot. Hope that this helps you all.


    • Geoff Coupe says:

      TG, I know about this, and have used it in the past where necessary. The point remains that most users are not aware of it, and hence may be unwittingly revealing more about themselves online than they would wish to. The other point is that WLPG 2011 is damaging the files sitting on our computers, and that remains my main beef about WLPG 2011.

      • JL says:

        Technogran, anyone who knows how to add metadata to their photos also knows they can take it out.

        The problem is the metadata that WLPG adds automatically unbeknownst to the user. The GPS, for instance, that was added to 9,000 of my photographs without my permission and that’s not plain to see. It’s buried under right-click/Properties/Details tab and then a scroll to the bottom of the box. The only reason I saw it was because I use other software, Photo Mechanic and ExifToolGUI, where it’s out front and obvious.

        Geoff pointed out other WLPG misuses of metadata in his blog post –

  9. ludwigkeck says:

    I have just read through the comments here and most (but not all) of the referenced posts and am quite astonished. This is the first time that I have seen statements that imply that WLPG changes photo resolution or compression by just opening the images. That is simply not anything I have experienced nor have I had any such reports from my photographer colleagues. Only when editing a photo does WLPG make changes. The default setting makes a copy of the original. You can find the folder from the Options dialog, “Originals” tab. WLPG only resizes images on its own during an export operation and just makes copies, the originals are untouched. Data in the normal GPS location has not been changed in my experience, although WLPG has added “location” descriptions which often are wild. WLPG is intended for the average user with limited skills, and does an admirable job for them. Neither this nor any other program is idiot-proof. Now, I were is my flak jacket.

  10. JL says:

    Because I only opened WLPG and didn’t actually use it, I didn’t have time to find the Options dialog where, according to you, are the options for protecting my photographs.

    Without a doubt, WLPG made all kinds of changes to my photographs, because I’ve been cleaning up the mess 12 hours a day for the past month and I’m yet to see light at the end of the tunnel. Perhaps by Spring?

    You say WLPG also adds location descriptions – I hadn’t noticed that. Amazing that my photos escaped that ‘helpful’ addition from Microsoft while the other aspects of the destruction ran rampant.

    It’s true that WLPG does not add GPS to photos that already have GPS co-ordinates. Perhaps that’s why you and your photographer friends haven’t noticed it.

    I have thousands of heirloom photographs compressed up to 75% of their original size.

    “Admirable job” is not a word I would use for Windows Live Photo Gallery. I think “Train-Wreck” would be kind. If it wasn’t for Carbonite and backup discs sent around the country, I could kiss years and years of work good-bye. And you can’t even imagine what I mean by that.

  11. Ludwig Keck says:

    My best wishes for success of the recovery efforts. With that kind of a disaster, I can well understand your view of WLPG. Are the damaged files all in tiff format or are other formats affected as well? When I work on tiff files I do not use WLPG, so that might also account for me not seeing the problem.

    • JL says:

      A lot of them are tiff because they’re scans of paper that’s long gone now. The more recent from my digital camera are jpg’s.

      It seems to me that everything was affected in some way. Even the photos that were not compressed, or compressed less, still had EXIF changes made to them. For that reason I’m restoring everything to its former state. Contingent on being able to find it. The folder containing the ancestral photos, 1860-1950 was pretty well decimated because Carbonite overwrote the good backups with the damaged photos before I got a handle on what was happening. If they can’t be replaced by backup discs there’s 5,000 or so there that are gone.

      • Ludwig Keck says:

        Have you looked in the “original photos folder”? The location is “C:\Users\yourname\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Photo Gallery\Original Images” – where C: might be different on your machine and, of course, “yourname” will be your user name. Note that this is in “Windows Photo Gallery” NOT “Windows LIVE Photo Gallery” (there is also such a folder). I would be interested in knowing what shape those files are in.

        WLPG does not do automatic optimization of images, you have to intentionally click “Auto adjust”. There is a command right under that button to specify what should be optimized.

        • JL says:

          I went there, as you suggested thanks. The folder is completely empty because, as I told you, I didn’t ‘use’ WLPG. It simply ran over my photographs like the rogue elephant it is (nice phrasing there, Dave). And yes, it does ‘optimize’ photos without being asked. And all it takes is to open the door. Microsoft is well aware of this (at least the GPS part, which also includes compression and EXIF damage) since they’ve been written to about it, and I got an email back essentially saying that they do it because they want to save people the bother of doing it themselves. That’s the mentality over there – just leave it up to Microsoft, we’ll do it for you and you don’t even have to think. Imagine that, being able to go through life without having to think because someone else is willing to do it for you.

          As to your previous comment that no software is ‘idiot proof’ are you implying that we (other posters here) are idiots? I know for a fact that Geoff is not and he’s been writing about these WLPG problems for the past six months. Back in my university days I was ranked in the top 200 IQ’s in Canada, but that was a long time ago so, sure, I might be an idiot by now. And Dave, I don’t know him well enough to say.

          Well, I have to get back to work now. Another 5,586 photographs to restore.

          • Ludwig Keck says:

            I apologize for using language that offended you and others. The term “idiot-proof” was intended to describe the program. I did not intend to reflect on the users and I am sorry for disrespectful words. I have been a code-smith for over fifty years and built programs for use by a wide range of users. The ideal program does what the user wants it to do. There is, of course, no way to ever establish what the user really expected. The worst error, and I have experience in that, is for a program to behave in unexpected ways. WLPG in its handling of geotagging is particularly bad.

  12. Dave Howes says:

    Why is it always argued that it’s ok for ‘the average user with limited skills’ to be given dodgy software which has potentially disastrous consequences, just because they might not have the knowledge to realise the future problems it may be causing? Surely these are the people who most need reliable and safe software?
    Because of the way the software works, once it is installed, if you click on a picture to open it, it is automatically “optimised” as it is opened, along with any other pictures in the same folder and any subfolders. If you just open the program, it automatically “optimises” all the pics. in your default pictures folder. Although you can modify this behaviour, by the time you have opened the program to reset it the damage is already done.
    Also, if you happen to open a picture in your root C directory, it will happily “optimise” any graphic resource files in your programs folder, which in many cases will stop the programs that use them from running properly. A friend has just had a HUGE problem with this with a lot of music programs, resulting in a 3 day reinstall marathon for her, and the (probably sensible) decision to abandon Her shiny new Windows 7 installation and revert to XP. And she is just an “average user with limited skills”
    I am not a professional photographer, just an intermittent amateur, in fact I’m an “average user with limited skills” when it comes to photography, but I do like to share my photo’s with other people, and I want them to look the way I decide they should look, NOT the way the Windows Live team decide.

    P.S. Another thing that amazes me is the way that the Microsofties will avidly defend even the most terrible products, and continue to use them no matter what disasters they cause. This is NOT good for Microsoft. It would be far better to be honest, then maybe they wouldn’t end up being considered a bit of a joke by “the average user with limited skills”.

    • JL says:

      Well said, Dave. My first reaction to Windows 7 was to go back to XP. I should have listened to myself. It was a few days after that I opened WLPG and now look where I am.

      • JL says:

        ” …if you happen to open a picture in your root C directory, it will happily “optimise” any graphic resource files in your programs folder, which in many cases will stop the programs that use them from running properly.”

        Dave, is this coming from WLPG or just Windows itself? Now you’ve got me paranoid. WLPG is long gone from my computer, as well as the rest of Windows Live Essentials, but can this sort of thing go on just from Windows being Windows?

    • Ludwig Keck says:

      You are mistaken, Dave, WLPG does not apply any optimization when you open the photo. You have to expressly click “Auto adjust”. I have used WLPH, prior incarnations, and many other photo editors, including Picasa, I found none to be stodgy. Many not to my liking, especially those, like Picasa, that do automatic indexing. I know of none that by default do any optimizing.

      • Dave Howes says:

        Yes it does The latest gallery HAS to modify your files in order to work, because the computer hasn’t been built that is capable of running the new slideshow at full resolution – far too much of a resource hog!. It also adds all kinds of weird tags well which changes the size of the file. When graphic files are used for moving controls etc in programs, the graphics for different control positions are contained in 1 file, and the starting point for each individual graphic is found by counting bytes from the start of the file. If the file size is changed, either the graphics end up as complete nonsense or, more usually, the program crashes, often with blue screen results.
        The point is that it’s only the latest version that does all this, earlier versions don’t..
        Also, if you have installed it, and either uninstalled it or reverted to an earlier version, you have to make sure automatic updates is set to tell you before updating anything, because it tends to automatically “update” you even if you have uninstalled it, and you have to mend everything all over again.
        Windows 7 itself does not alter your files.
        If anyone wants to revert to the original version (pre wave 3) you can find it on my website –
        Click on the skydrive tab and look in the ‘Old Live Installers’ folder

        • Dave Howes says:

          P.S. I’ve just noticed a possible bit of confusion that might be creeping in here. By ‘optimise’ I don’t mean ‘change the contrast etc.’, I mean ‘alter the file so that the program can handle it’. A very different thing indeed!

      • Geoff Coupe says:

        Sorry, Ludwig, you are mistaken. WLPG will “optimize” a photo whenever metadata is applied to an image, it doesn’t require the user to expressly open a photo for editing. And since the defaults of WLPG are to compress a file, that means that any files that even only have had metadata applied to them will be compressed.

        For those of us, like JL and myself, who make extensive use of IPTC location metadata, WLPG 2011 has been silently, and without us being at first aware of it, reading the IPTC location metadata of all our files in the background, and using this to (a) write back GPS into the files’ Exif, (b) write back IPTC Extension LocationCreated metadata into the files’ XMP, and (c) compressing the files if WLPG’s defaults were in force.

        Frankly, I think it’s sloppy design to apply file compression when the image data itself has not been touched in any way, but only metadata has been changed.

  13. JL says:

    Geoff, I don’t think the compression is ‘sloppy’. I think it’s intentional, in the same way that automatically adding GPS is intentional. Their motto, according to Carmen, is ‘Advanced Made Simple’. As I understood his emai to me, their thinking is geared to the ‘mainstream’ which they take to be people who want to email their photos or upload them to Flickr. So, basically, they’re taking resizing out of peoples’ hands as well by going ahead and just doing it because, afterall, that’s what people want.

    The spin this kind of thinking puts on my brain cells is another story, but …

  14. Dave Howes says:

    So basically, if we use this program we may as well stick our fancy new cameras on ebay and get cheaper ones. Our local branch of Budgens is currently selling a 2.5 megapixel camera for a fiver, and that seems well within the default resolution set by Photo Gallery.
    My use of photo gallery (the old one) is probably about as mainstream as it gets. I use it to import the pictures from my camera, tweak the odd one that needs a minor tweak (more extensive work can be done with a single click to open it in any other photo editing program, and import it straight back afterwards), and a simple couple of clicks to upload them to Flickr, which I use because I CAN upload and back up my pics in full resolution, exactly as I took them. Simple, efficient and fast, with no changes made unless I want them.
    If I was to go out and buy I new car, I wouldn’t want to find that first gear was missing, because “most people like to drive fast”………….

    • Ludwig Keck says:

      For the past day now I have been running exhausting, if not exhaustive, tests on WLPG using a small group of files. I have not yet found an instance where the image data has been touched.
      The poor geotagging implementation has not been fixed in the latest version on my machines (Build 15.4.3502.922). My posts on that still apply (see search “geotag” or click in tag cloud). When geo-coordinates where present WLPG did not touch them. When location data was present without coordinates WLPG added coordinates – usually poorly and in some cases very badly. When both location data and coordinates where present there were changes to some files (more follow-up testing needed). When conflicting data was present (coordinates and location description of another location) “strange” things happened – I do not yet have a handle on this.

      I have not tried running slide shows – that had not occurred to me, I will do that today. When file sizes were different in all of my cases that was due to different amounts of metadata. [High praise for WMware Player, I would not know how to do this without virtual machines!]

      • Geoff Coupe says:

        “I have not yet found an instance where the image data has been touched”.

        Perhaps you have set the compression setting to “off” (Quality = 100%)? If not, then it is indeed strange that you are not seeing compression in any of your files.

        Between us, JL and myself have seen thousands of instances. I document it here:

        Notice that the second screenshot in the ’24 Hours Later’ section now has a JFIF block (i.e. the image data has been compressed). That was done by WLPG 2011 and nothing else.

      • Dave Howes says:

        You are a very lucky man indeed. Everyone else in the world has this problem, even Microsoft grudgingly admit there is a problem, but you are totally unaffected. I would ask you the secret of your success, but I detect more than a hint of fanboy-ism here……………..

  15. Greg Edwards says:

    Wow, what a load of tripe. You guys are making a lot of fuss over a non-issue, in my opinion. Out of the millions of people who beta tested and use WLPG everyday, of course you’re the only three who have discovered that Microsoft is scheming to ruin your entire photo library and divulge your personal details for all to see. Puh-lease. I think this fuss can be patently ignored.

    The main claims seem to be that WLPG changes your photos’ metadata, specifically when face tagging is turned on, thus exposing your information for the world to see, and it reduces your photos’ overall quality through unnecessarily lossy JPEG compression settings, whether or not you’re actually publishing photos to the web or even editing the images. Dave goes so far as to call the program “a virus” because of these behaviors. Here’s my opinion:

    First, you actually want WLPG to insert the metadata in your photos, because it’s information about the photos themselves. Otherwise, if/when you share them, the details don’t travel along, making your metadata meaningless. This is why Picasa users frequently complain, because that program handles metadata via a separate database. When you view and manage photos within the program all is good, but if you move those photos to another device or the web, all the important details are lost without some pretty significant contortions.

    You don’t have to turn on face recognition in the first place, and it’s easily disabled through WPLG’s options (on the General tab). Nobody ever said you’re required to publish your photos. If you do choose to publish them, then you can enable security on the sharing site. And if you really want to dissociate the metadata from the photos, then you can do it through WPLG’s program options (on the Publish tab). Seems to me that anyone could figure all that out with a cursory glance.

    Your second gripe is also a non-issue in my opinion. WLPG only updates metadata in some specific scenarios. It’s not as if the program is running willy nilly around your hard disk changing files. If the images are edited or faces are recognized, then yes, the original file is edited, but otherwise WLPG doesn’t need to touch the original file. You don’t need a fancy analysis tool to confirm this. Seriously, just right-click on a source photo and look at the date modified attribute. According to you guys, all of my photos should show dates after WLPG was installed, because it modified the files in order to corrupt my metadata. Sorry guys, but the evidence is contrary. Unless I’ve specifically edited them, then my photos date modified attributes show (gasp) the original date they were captured. So…it must’ve been Colonel Mustard in the study with the pipe wrench. 🙂

    WPLG doesn’t modify the guts of your images unless you edit them (e.g., crop, straighten, etc.). Updating metadata doesn’t count; that only adds information to the file’s header. When your images are edited, then yes, there is a chance the edited version will be a slightly lower quality than the original, but again, this is controlled by program options (on the Edit tab). You can adjust the slider to optimize the quality : file size ratio of your edited images. JPEG is a naturally lossy file format, but as long as you keep your compression settings toward the high-quality side (the default setting is 98%), you’re unlikely to notice the degradation, especially within photos. Other formats (GIF, PNG) may be better suited for images with lots of fine detail, such as diagrams or line art, but then WPLG is a photo-management tool, so naturally it’s optimized for photos.

    Even in those specifc instances where WPLG changes your original image, it can keep your originals
    indefinitely (the default is one month), just in case you need to revert. How much hard disk space it’s worth is up to you.

    I see this whole conversation as nothing more than a lot of haymaking, which is Dave’s specialty. I’ve known him (online) for several years, and to hear him tell it, he’s the world’s foremost expert on just about everything. I don’t doubt that he has a special monitor that displays images a print-quality DPI; that’s just the type of super-spy he is. But for us civilians, most of these default program settings work just fine. Default options are designed to satisfy the vast majority of users’ needs, not the kook fringe. Just my 2¢.

    • JL says:

      Thank-you for your lengthy and uninformed opinion. Microsoft is well aware of the problems because they’ve been told and they’ve responded and, according to them, they’re working on solutions.

      In the meantime, if you don’t mind subjecting your own photos to the well-documented various forms of damage, please … go for it.

      • Dave Howes says:

        Greg, if someone from Microsoft told you that your computer would work better sitting in a bowl of custard, you would be out bulk buying milk and hunting for ‘certified for Windows’ cornflower within the hour.
        Your opinion seems to be that
        1 The problem doesn’t exist
        2 The non-existent problem doesn’t matter.
        3 Ok, it does matter but it can be fixed
        4 Well maybe not, but Microsoft know what you need better than you do anyway
        5 No-one else’s experience matters, and if it’s different to mine then you’re an idiot.

        To be honest, maybe we are idiots, expecting quality products from Microsoft these days. Maybe it’s nostalgia for their past glories, before their self-proclaimed mission to dumb down computing to it’s lowest possible denominator was started, maybe it’s that that keeps us thinking ‘it might be better this time’…………..

        Still, I digress. The problems are there. Even Microsoft admit the problems are there, and they’re also looking at fixing them! (although, going by past experience, the fix will arrive about 2 years down the line). I admit that if you just play with computers (and I’m afraid I include your work in that description) you may not even notice the problems. But if you want to produce high quality work, either professionally or as a hobby, the problems are very real. Another one surfaced here today. For professional publication purposes, all graphics MUST be at a minimum of 300dpi, otherwise the printer wont accept them. A number of pictures were sent to my partner to insert into a magazine, and more than half of them were reduced to 96dpi (they all seemed to be non-standard shapes – maybe that’s a clue), and, by experiment, we determined that this happened with some pictures when you OPENED (not modified) them in the new Gallery.
        And yes, Greg, we do have a 32inch LG display that works at full print dpi. My partner runs a small publishing business. It’s called ‘professionalism’. Look it up.

        Of course, the obvious underlying subtext to your rant is “Yes, the software’s crap, get something better”…………..

  16. technogran says:

    Thanks Greg for your take on this very emotive subject. I think that both Photo Gallery and Picasa do the job they are meant to do and what you see is what you get. They are after all, FREE photo editing programs, each with their own good points and bad, and for the ordinary user such as myself, they suit the purpose for which they are intended.


    • Greg Edwards says:

      I agree, TG. But even a free program does carry the onus of proper function. These guys are certainly entitled to their opinions about whether they actually like WLPG, but I do take exception to folks making extrordinary claims about flaws in an application that clearly do not exist. Just because they’ve had a bad experience, they assume it has to be a problem with the software, when in reality, it’s far more likely to be some combination of user error, an odd configuration, or a misunderstanding of what’s actually observed. Of course, it’s far more sensational to blame the software. A damaged reputation often requires little more than an errant accusation.

      • JL says:

        Greg, I don’t mean this in any offensive way, but are you DEAF?

        • Greg Edwards says:

          Why, because I question the unsubstanitated claims of three people, at least one of whom I know well enough to take everything he claims with an entire shaker of salt? Because I have been unable to reproduce your results at all? Because it doesn’t make logical sense?

          It’s always, always, always the responsibility of those making such wild accusation to bring their evidence to bear. Please JL, please show me where Microsoft has publicly acknowledged these faults with WLPG (pretend I’m an idiot and gimme a link), and I’ll respond accordingly. Until then, you’re just blowing a lot of hot air, friend.

          • JL says:

            First of all, I’m not ‘friend’ to you.

            Second, all kinds of ‘evidence’ has been produced by Geoff Coupe at this blog via screenshots. I, personally, have 12,000 damaged photographs as evidence.

            Fifteen minutes ago I received an apology (again) from the Lead Project Manager at WLPG for the damage inflicted on my photos. It’s a personal email so I don’t intend to send you a link to it. But, you may read his initial apology at my blog:

            Scroll down to Comments for the name “Carmen”.

  17. Ludwig Keck says:

    Using ViewNX2 I prepared a set of pristine new JPG image files from raw camera files. Some of the files were geotagged using ProPhotoTools, some with location data, some with coordinates. The files were moved to a clean Windows 7 virtual machine with the latest version of WLPG. WLPG did affect the geotagging in the already reported manner and updated the metadata. Running slide show in WLPG presented the pictures without problems including an image of size 8000 by 6000 pixels. None of the image data in these files was changed in any way, no resize, no compression, nada. Only when doing an intentional edit have my files been affected. I compared the metadata using ExifTools. I am satisfied that claims here that the images are degraded or resized are not correct.

    • JL says:

      All you’ve proved to yourself is that you have a case of extreme tunnel vision. And, apparently, you’re calling Geoff, Dave and myself outright liars.

      • Dave Howes says:

        Greg has a problem. I think he was bitten by a radioactive copy of Windows 3.1 as a boy, and it turned him in to “Microsoftboy – Defender of all things with ‘Windows’ in it’s name”,

        • Ludwig Keck says:

          Calling people names does not enhance your credibility, only facts do. Please present facts, so that the real problems can be determined.

          • JL says:

            Neither you nor Greg are interested in ‘the facts’. You’re both interested in being right, whatever that takes. In your case, limited testing. In Greg’s, just on and on and on inanity for attention’s sake.

          • Dave Howes says:

            I reply to informed conversation with informed conversation, and to bigoted rudeness with bigoted rudeness.
            Fair enough?

      • Ludwig Keck says:

        Even if I had tunnel vision, it would not change the outcome of my testing. I am not calling anyone a liar. I assume that you have seen a problem, it is just that you have not correctly identified the cause. WLPG does not, in my tests, degrade the images. I have examined original and the file “subjected” to WLPG (eight runs through slide show, WLPG compression set to 80% – its minimum) there was no change in size of the image, nor any difference, pixel by pixel. I did not examine all eight+ million pixels, but a sufficent number to proof to myself that there is no difference. Sorry, I can say with confidence that the problem you see is not from WLPG.

        • Dave Howes says:

          If you compressed the image and there was no change in it’s size, then that’s surely another problem to look at! The whole point of compressing a file is to make it smaller! Maybe your testing methods need rethinking?
          I’ve been doing some testing on a Windows 7 laptop I’ve got here at the moment, and a possible pattern is starting to emerge. I’m not saying this is absolutely gospel (Greg take note!), but it seems that pictures in a non-standard format (height x width) are much more likely to be messed up than standard formats. Also, TIFF’s are more likely to be damaged than jpegs. I don’t pretend to know why this is, I was just testing a theory.
          The really scary thing about this is the randomness of the problem. I opened the same TIFF file a dozen or so times, with no problems, and when I opened it again 10 mins. later to show my girlfriend that that wasn’t the problem, it was suddenly nearly 30% smaller!

    • Dave Howes says:

      You probably have all the compression options turned off now. The problem is that all the options are turned ON by default when the program installs, so that when you first open the program, having installed it, the conversion has started on your default picture folder before you have had a chance to alter anything. You can then go and switch off the compression, tagging, etc.,but the damage is already done.

      • Greg Edwards says:

        The default compression is a whopping 2%. In other words, completely negligible for the vast majority of photos. And again, that’s only if you actually EDIT the image. Time to move on, folks, there’s simply nothing to see here.

        • Dave Howes says:

          Er, Greg, this isn’t your conversation. You have no idea what you’re talking about, probably time for you to move on…….

          • JL says:

            Greg, you must have more free time than most. Or maybe you’re just desperate for attention, and negative attention for you is better than none.

            I have another 5,600 severely WLPG-damaged photographs to restore from backups. They have been compressed up to 75% by WLPG which, by the way, I reiterate – I never used – I simply opened the software.

            If you have time to continue spewing your pompous air into this blog, of course, feel free. I have to get back to work.

      • Ludwig Keck says:

        By default the export compression is set to 98% in WLPG. I ran through the tests with this default setting, then set it to the minimum, 80%, and ran through the tests again. No damage was done.

        • JL says:

          Ludwig, you leave me almost speechless. I have 12,000 photographs here and I can see the compression damage clearly with my own eyes and I’ve been looking at it for a month since I had WLPG opened. Not used, just opened. This same effect has been noted by Geoff Coupe on 4,600 of his photos from using WLPG. So, honestly, I don’t give a rat’s ass about your testing. I’m thrilled out of my mind, though, that your handful of jpg’s are safe and sound.

          • JL says:

            Ludwig, have you tried a tif? 9,000-10,000 of my photos are tif’s.

          • Greg Edwards says:

            Careful Ludwig, you’re saying that the program actually works as advertised. That’s heresy, man! You must be a schill…or part of the cover-up. Part of the global Microsoft cabal to ruin JL’s family photos.

            And JL…TIFs? Seriously? You must be a glutton for punishment, dude. Either that or you have some serious disk space to burn. Let’s see, I could store these photos as reasonably sized JPEGs or…inflate the file size by 1000% for no appreciable improvement in image quality. Surely if you’re storing your photos as TIFs, you must be printing them on billboards or something…otherwise it’s just an obscene waste of space.

            Actually, I did a fair amount of testing as well today, though I’m sure no one reading this conversation cares about fact-based opinions that aren’t anti-Microsoft, and I concur with Luwig’s findings. The only time that compression is applied is when I actively edited the images. Changing metadata had no impact on the images’ file attributes.

            I don’t doubt that something botched your library, JL, but I think you’re looking for a scapegoat in WLPG. It’s a solid piece of software that actually does what it says it does. I trust all my photos to it, and it hasn’t let me down. Coincidentally, if you have a recent backup, then I don’t understand what all of the handwringing is about. Restore your backup and move on pal.

          • Ludwig Keck says:

            Two of the files were 16-bit TIFFs, however, I did not add any geotags to them. These files, along with the others were used in the slide shows. I also opened them in the WLPG edit window but made no changes. The images were not affected. The metadata was completely unchanged.
            JL, I do not doubt that you have a problem. I just find no evidence that WLPG was the cause. I would very much like to find the cause so I can warn my students and readers. It is not in my interest to know of a problem but not its cause and solution.

            Oh yes, Greg, I am also a consultant to the government on the UFO situation 😉 – But seriously, I speak only for myself from my own experience.

    • Geoff Coupe says:

      Ludwig, it’s interesting that your tests are not revealing compression, while ours are. I’ve had an email from Microsoft reporting that they are also not seeing the compression, and they’re interested in tracking down what, exactly, is going on here.

      I suspect that what’s different is that I have to have a third-party codec installed on my PC, because a small proportion of my collection is in RAW and DNG formats. I have installed Axel Rietschin’s FastPictureViewer Codec ( so that WIC and WLPG can display these files.

      I notice that this thread ( in the PC Talk Forum of Digital Photography Review reports the same compression issue with WLPG 2011.

      Even more interesting are the contributions in the thread by Axel Rietschin where he explains the mechanism of how his codec works with WIC. He claims that there are undocumented APIs in WIC that Microsoft is able to take advantage of with the built-in Codecs in Win7, but that he (or any third-party Codec supplier) cannot. So for anyone using third-party codecs (as I have to for my RAW and DNG files), this compression is perhaps inevitable.

      I’ve reported this thought back to Micrsoft to see if they can confirm or disprove the hypothesis. The fact remains that some of us are seeing this compression occur even when only metadata is being changed and some of us are not.

      • technogran says:

        Right Geoff. So now we begin to isolate this problem. You and JL should surely be looking at what you are both doing differently to users such as Ludwig (who I might add is as much a professional as you are, seeing as he teaches photography) and whether or not it doesn’t all boil down to some other program, codec or application that is interfering in some way or causing WLPG to act differently for you than it acts for the rest of us.
        You jumped to the conclusion that it was Photo Gallery that was at fault initially (and don’t get me wrong, I would have probably done the same thing) but it looks as if there are other factors at play here.

      • JL says:

        Geoff, I don’t have any DNG or RAW files, and haven’t knowingly installed any special codecs for viewing them. It’s possible that other software on my computer includes those codecs but it’s not something I know about. So, once again, it ain’t me.

  18. Dave Howes says:

    JL – this may or may not be a bit of consolation for all your woes, but I was able to show your problems to a recently acquired online friend who does similar work to you, researching into the Howes surname, which stopped him from making the same mistake.
    So at least you’ve helped someone else – small consolation I know, but better than nothing

  19. Dave Howes says:

    Greg, your shallowness is showing again. TIF’s and RAW files are the choice of the pro, offering far better editing and restoration possibilities. A proper printing/publishing company will only accept graphics in TIF format.
    Jpegs are great for amateur snappers (like me), and have improved a lot over the years, but to say that TIF’s have no use is showing ignorance beyond belief. JL is undertaking archive work. One day the jpeg will be superseded by something better, everyone will have super high-def monitors, and anyone who reduced all their archive work to jpegs would be quite rightly pilloried for doing so. And indeed, maybe he does want to print them on billboards one day. He can, you can’t.

    • Dave Howes says:

      P.S. Apologies for adding all those extra F’s to TIF in my previous post.!
      3.30 am here – brain shutting down – time for bed……….

    • JL says:

      Greg, you’re clearly distraught and flailing any old which way looking for a fight. There are psychological methods for dealing with out-of-control aggression. For instance, you could take a tennis racket and hit a mattress with it a few times. Try not to hit a mattress with anyone on it. Really, you’ll sleep much better and feel lighter in the morning.

  20. JL says:

    ” … I would very much like to find the cause so I can warn my students and readers. It is not in my interest to know of a problem but not its cause and solution.”

    I know the cause is WLPG so I have been warning anyone who will listen to get it off their computers. If you feel safe using it, by all means…

    In an email I received this morning from Carmen (Lead Project Manager for WLPG) they have an update coming out soon to repair the GPS problem. He also said he is following this blog in regards to the compression issue and said, “I plan to get a reply out to that shortly.” I don’t know what he means by that. I’m waiting to see.

    • technogran says:

      JL I am sure that the Photo Gallery team take your problems very seriously and will have given it their utmost focus on why this has occurred to your photo collection. I am sure that if they find out that WLPG was to blame, a solution will soon be forthcoming.

      However, for the majority of users of this excellent program who will use the Jpeg format for their photos, none of this applies and I am quite happy to continue using this excellent FREE photo editing program. Thanks guys for all of your interesting comments on this subject. At least you know the team is on the case .;)

  21. JL says:

    TG, If you’ve been reading, and I assume you have, most of this does apply to jpg users. I believe all of Geoff’s 4,600 affected photos, and about 3,000 of mine are jpg’s. And that’s just two of us. The problems range from metadata changes and EXIF damage to compression of file-size to auto-geocoding. And apparently, the list goes on. DPI reduction, according to Dave. Insertion of personal information into the metadata, pointed out in another post by Geoff. I don’t understand why, after all these comments and explanation, that you’re still in total denial. Why? This is where we started several days ago; lady floating on air mattress.

    The WLPG team already know that they’re to blame for my photo damage. This is not up in the air to be determined. They’ve already explained to me why they designed the software the way they did and have already apologized to me twice.

    • technogran says:

      What will satisfy you JL? that I stop using the program at all and uninstall it? That I denounce it on here when for the vast majority of users it ‘does what it says on the tin’ and they are quite happy with it?’ I have no problem with my photos and usage of Photo Gallery to edit them JL so why should I change anything?
      You have my sympathy about your ruined photo collection, but I don’t see why I should then act by denouncing Photo Gallery on your behalf when I find it perfectly adequate! If I found that it changed my photos (which by the way I haven’t) then I might think about not using it. Until then, I will continue to use it as my main Photo editing tool.

      • JL says:

        What I was mind-doggled by was your phrasing, “I am sure that if they find out that WLPG was to blame …”

        It’s already been determined and posted here several times. WLPG posted an apology to me on my blog and wrote two emails to me apologizing. What will satisfy YOU?

  22. technogran says:

    JL I am not doubting you or your problems at all, but you obviously expected more or different usage of the program than I do. I use it to edit my photo collection and then share it on flickr, skydrive etc. I’m only an amateur photographer and as such simply an average user of any free photo editing program. I have use Photo Gallery in this way since it began.
    As far as I am concerned it suits my needs perfectly and although I am quite aware of yours and Geoff’s warnings, I know the team will rectify this for you, but for me personally it’s no big issue. My photos on my computer and then shared elsewhere are fine.

    • Dave Howes says:

      But surely you realise that, by ignoring these possible problems in your postings, you devalue the objectivity of all your other posts. You have taken on the noble task of explaining all this stuff to the layman,but with that comes the onus of objectivity. Your refusal to admit that there is a problem here that can seriously affect some users immediately casts doubt on all your other posts, as we don’t know what other problems you may have glossed over, and I no longer feel that I can point people in your direction as I have done in the past.
      Keep up the excellent work, by all means, but be a bit more objective. Everything in the garden is never rosy, and if you want to be taken seriously you HAVE to document the shortcomings, however small, along with the goodies.
      The problem is that a lot of people like you and Greg have been kicked out of the warm fluffy world of Spaces into the big wide world of WordPress, and whilst the ‘Microsoft is faultless’ stance was more or less standard there, things are very different here. As your blog builds a readership (as it surely will, because of it’s subject matter and amazing regularity) there will be a lot more detractors looking in and commenting, and simply saying ‘well it’s ok for me’ will not be a good enough answer.
      A far better strategy would have been to mention the problems in the original post, and point out that the team were aware of them and urgently working on a fix. This would not only boost the credibility of your blog, but also the credibility of Microsoft.
      Alas, Greg’s tendency to stroll into any conversation as if he owned it and had a direct line to God is going to get him a few severe stompings over the next few months, which is a shame, as he means well. Just totally lacking in people skills.

      • technogran says:

        But Dave! I have not encountered any problems with Live Photo Gallery 2011 so how on earth can I include them in my post if they have never happened to me or my usage of the program? I have not refused to admit to anything at all! Now you are twisting my words and comments and I resent that.
        If I didn’t want to face up to any of the problems stated by JL. yourself and Geoff then I would simply delete all of your comments from this blog post wouldn’t I?
        It is you who are insisting that I have to include all of these problems in my posts in order to be ‘objective’ and fair when I have never come across them until this post and wasn’t aware of them is totally unfair Dave.
        I use these programs daily. If there are faults with any of them I say so. But as always I use the basis for my posts on my own personal usage and findings, and I am sorry that you do not agree with that.


        • Dave Howes says:

          Fair enough, I don’t think you deliberately hide problems, (although I gathered from the opening of this thread that you were already aware of Geoff’s problems, and had chosen not to mention them.Sorry if I got that wrong.), but you must admit, you do tend to stick to your guns in these matters 🙂
          The problem with this discussion is that it rapidly descended into a ‘yes it happened – no it didn’t’ argument, which is totally unhelpful.The people affected are not fools, they know it did happen, and are naturally very cross about it. And looking across the internet, they are far from being the only people affected by this. Even the team responsible for the software are aware there is a problem. The sensible and practical thing to do is to try and find out WHY this is happening on some computers and not on others. No matter how many Hours of testing you put in, it only proves that your particular computer is unaffected.
          At the moment, the best way forward is a bit of speculative thought and deductive reasoning, and this process isn’t helped by people jumping in and accusing everyone of being liars and fools, and in one case trashing someone’s well respected archiving techniques!
          It appears that someone who can actually make a difference is watching this thread, so let’s stop bickering, accept that there is a problem, no matter how obscure, and try and work out what’s going on.

    • JL says:

      I wasn’t ‘expecting’ anything. What I didn’t expect was to see over 12,000 photographs damaged in a variety of ways by doing nothing except opening the door.

  23. Dave Howes says:

    Ok, due to a state of ‘rain stops play’ on the jobs I should be doing this morning, I’ve had a chance to look round a lot of forums, and a few constants are starting to appear.
    When it comes to much smaller file sizes/lower quality issues when you knowingly or unknowingly edit a file, the problem seems to be that, in order to edit any photo in any way, even just to add/modify a tag, the program first decompresses the file to a bitmap, changes the data, and then recompresses it to a jpeg. Why? No idea, it seems a bit Heath Robinson to me, but whatever the reasons, that’s how it’s done. Now, the specs for compressing jpegs are a bit nebulous. Most (but not all) reasonable quality modern cameras, when asked to take a jpeg photo at maximum resolution, will output a file that is totally uncompressed, I.E. every single pixel is mapped and described. Some even offer a ‘superfine’ option that uses pixel shading techniques to split each pixel into bits and give even more detail. If you choose to take lower resolution pictures, some (but again, not all) cameras add a certain amount of compression as well as simple resizing to achieve smaller file sizes. When WLPG recompresses the file after altering the data, it appears to use a particularly aggressive algorithm that even when set to 100% quality will still compress adjacent pixels of the same or nearly the same colour. This results in a smaller file size, but a loss of fidelity.The other problem is that it appears to be cumulative. On photo’s where there are large areas of similar colour (lots of sky for example), if you change the tagging a half dozen times or so, these areas can quickly degrade into to familiar ‘bands of colour’ problem. Is this good or bad? I suppose it depends on how future-proof you want your piccies. If they’re just ephemeral, then it’s fine. If, in the not to distant future, you want to look at them on your new 42 inch super high definition monitor (and they’re not far away) you are in for a blurry disappointment. Even on my own rather modest 22″ widescreen (not Di’s big one!) there is a noticeable degradation in quality. But I suppose that if you think lack of size is everything then fine – go for it.
    Another theory I came across is that maybe the program picks up on whether your’e system runs in 32 or 24 bit colour, and adjusts itself accordingly. Not convinced myself, but it’s a valid argument.

    The other trickier question is whether it chooses to do this off it’s own back or not.
    My gut feeling is that WLPG is reacting badly with existing dll’s, codec’s or runtime’s people already have installed on their computers from other gallery or graphics program, and that seems to be backed up by a lot of very clever people. Almost any camera you buy comes with a disc of software, and the natural tendency of most people is to install it and see what it does. Then it’s either used, or, quite often, just left there to lurk. (I recently had to fix a computer with 6 gallery programs on it, all of which attempted to import the photo’s at the same time whenever the camera was plugged in!). And even if uninstalled, it’s not unknown for software to leave rogue system files lurking in the corners – I don’t think any software company is immune from that. I personally would start by looking at common components used by a lot of programs, and see where that goes. My personal thought is that maybe something is toggling the batch conversion on under certain circumstances, (and no, I have no evidence of this, just a speculative thought to try and help things along!)
    Is this Microsoft’s fault? (or more specifically the Live team’s fault?) In my opinion, I’m afraid the answer is yes. Assuming this is the problem The frequency with which it crops up indicates that it isn’t an obscure piece of software causing the problem, but a commonly used program or shared component. The problem with their beta testing is that although it’s undertaken by a large number of people, most of them tend to be the kind of person who wouldn’t dream of running anything non-Microsoft on their computer, which rather skews the results. You also have to bear in mind that their ‘Public Beta’s’ are what most software houses would describe as ‘Version 1.0’. Very little is ever changed after a public beta. Microsoft are probably the biggest software producer on the planet, and should have the resources to test alongside ALL current software.
    There is an obvious quick fix for a lot of this, that would stop future users suffering the same woes, and would only take an hour or so to implement. That would be to modify the installer so that all these new options were turned OFF by default, and then let people decide what they want to use. As to whether they include a note about the possible problems you may encounter depends on the integrity of the company.

    • Geoff Coupe says:

      Dave, interesting thoughts. Do check out the thread on the PC Talk forum on Digital Photography Review that I refer to above or over at my post of today on my blog. I suspect that two of the three issues I am worried about can be laid at the door of the Windows Imaging Component and its architecture, and they chime with some of what you’re saying. However, I’ve come round to the opinion that only the GPS issue can be laid squarely at the door of the WLPG team. The JPEG quality issue I now believe to be centred in the WIC (which is used by WLPG). But I think that the WIC is governed by a different team in Microsoft – it’s a platform component of Windows, and not the responsibility of the Windows Live team…

      • JL says:

        If it would help this discussion, the only thing new to my photos is Windows 7. I started using Windows 7 on October 15th. When I opened WLPG, the damage to my photos began, The damage has not re-occurred since I uninstalled WLPG and the rest of Live Essentials from my computer.

        • Dave Howes says:

          It is looking like the windows imaging component is at fault, or rather, the way WLPG is implementing it. I would guess that WIC is being stretched a fair bit beyond it’s current capabilities and making the best of a bad job. I’m more concerned with the spontaneous compression of odd folders of pictures apparently at random. This isn’t a problem for everyone (yet!), but it does happen quite a lot.

          • JL says:

            Certainly, compression has been a huge part of the damage. Tif’s that were scanned and intentionally saved with no compression are now showing LZW consistently.

            For instance, great-great-great grandmother was 31 MB. After WLPG, she’s now 15 MB. It ripped through them all like a wild-fire.

        • Ludwig Keck says:

          Looks like we are getting closer. Geoff’s thought that a third-party codec might be to blame does not seem to fit the situation. But JL’s ggg-grandmother might be coming to the rescue. If the image was compressed using LZW at least that is good news – LZW is a lossless compression and all the image data can be restored. So what is doing the compressing? Since this discussion and investigation is more along the line of Geoff’s blog might we continue the discussion there?

          • JL says:

            I asked 3rd great-grandmother, Nancy, if she minds going over to Geoff’s place. She said that’s fine with her. She remembers Geoff from a past life and likes him quite a bit.

          • technogran1 says:

            As long as you understand that the Photo Gallery team are monitoring this blog and your comments and discussion. They may not do the same on Geoff’s blog. 🙂 Just a thought. And if they find a solution they will be posting it on here as they stated in JL’s email.


      • Dave Howes says:

        That was an interesting read 🙂
        I can see why WIC becomes a prime suspect, although I don’t quite see how earlier versions of Live Gallery allowed fairly major editing with no change in file size at all. The only way of shrinking the file size is to crop the picture, and it would be worrying if that didn’t make it smaller!
        The only problem to come directly my way so far is the change in print dpi, and that’s easily explained by the uncompress/recompress peocess. The dpi setting is, after all, just a little bit of metadata, and it seems one that the WIC isn’t very good at dealing with, just rewriting it to a default 95dpi. So not hard to fix, just bloody irritating if you have to do it on a whole heap of photo’s!
        The one that concerns me most though is the apparently random decision to batch convert everything it can find to something else. Even if it hasn’t happened to someone yet, it is a bit of a time bomb ticking away in the background. I just know that this problem is going to haunt me for the foreseeable future.

  24. JL says:

    TG, the WLPG team appears to be in direct contact with Geoff on a regular basis. I’m pretty sure they’re listening to him, as well as anything anyone else says on the Internet about their project. 🙂 Especially in these trying times.

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  26. johnny abney says:

    i can get rid of windows live picture gallery in my toshiba and I HAVE. they downloaded it to my dads computer. he dosent have his updates on manual, how do i find the pre 2011 version for win7 and is there a way to block the update without having to put his on manual thanks

  27. Lydia says:

    To be honest, i would much prefer the other basic editting. My laptop unfortunately recently got wiped, and I’ve reinstalled msn, but I think it is a different version and my windows live photo gallery is now like the one you’ve been promoting above.. I absolutely hate it! Although it has more features, etc., I would prefer the other one back and this version to be used if and when I want to.. Is there anything I could do?

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