Review: Windows Live Online Photos

Since Microsoft launched SkyDrive as part of it’s Windows Live cloud-based service, your single Windows Live (read ‘Hotmail’) account has up to 100Gb of free on-line storage, which is enough to upload and share thousands of photos. Once you upload photos, you can create slide shows and share them with whomever you choose.

Two things to note:

  • This is NOT the Windows Live Essentials Gallery application, this is the convenient and quick photo storage app.
  • There is NO EDITING capability. For that you have to download the Windows Live Essentials programs onto a Windows Vista or 7 machine…

I’ll go through the available options inside the application since these are the sum total of all is does. If it’s not in this list, it isn’t there!

  • Add photos – a simple uploading dialog for adding images to Skydrive.
  • Create folder.
  • Slide show – which doesn’t appear to work, at least not on Firefox. Nothing happens. Perhaps it needs some other plug-ins but I get no messages. Bizarre.
  • Share
    * Edit permissions
    * Send a link
    * Get a link
    * Embed – provides the embedding HTML code snippet
    * RSS feed – creates an RSS for the current album
  • View: changes the album view:
    * Icons
    * Details
    * Thumbnails
    * More
    Sort by: Date, Custom, Name, Date, Size, Type, Arrange photos…
  • Download as .zip file
  • Delete
  • Rename
  • Properties

For an individual image, you get:

  • Download
  • Share
  •  Edit permissions
  •  Embed (provides an HTML iframe code snippet to embed containing an image’s filename)
  • Slide show
  • Tag someone
  • That’s me!That’s me! (which may or may not work depending on the identification of an image as containing people)
  • Delete
  • More
    * Move (between gallery folders)
    * Copy
    * Rename
  • Shared with: has options for Everyone (public), private and nominated persons
  • Search contacts ‘and more’:
    * Search contacts
    * Search documents
    * Search the web
  • Slideshow – still doesn’t work on this page either
  • People Tagging

People Tagging
(If you’re on this page and you hit the ‘Options’ item you get thrown out to the MSN homepage!)

A little more detail, then:

Photos of you: Who can tag you on Windows Live? People tags will link to your profile.

  • Your friends
  • Just you

People tags on your photos
Who can add people tags?

  • Your friends who can view your photo albums
  • Don’t allow anyone to add people tags

Email publishing
Provides the ability to publish to SkyDrive by sending photos in email. This set-up screen sets up secure mail to Skydrive. This has a good clear layout, plenty of clear instructions, no complaints.

Verdict
The interface tries to be simple and uncluttered, but it’s still a little rough and there are some quirks in where you end up by clicking certain links.

According to the Microsoft marketing-speak:

  • Works with Office – it’s an online photo gallery. It should work with anything. If you’re on Windows Live using the Office suite, then you get the benefit of integration of all the Windows Live Essentials, otherwise, no.
  • Photos and videos online: it’s cloud storage. It does what it says.
  • Share your stuff: yes you can nominate and share anything from within Windows live.
  • Access from anywhere: This is where I have a problem.
    Yes you can sign in using Windows Live. Yes you can get an image link. Try embedding that on a web page or email however and Windows Skydrive doesn’t seem to want to cough up the images. I’ve found it very hit-and-miss as to whether the images load. At best you get a delay as Skydrive resolves the image link. At worst you get an empty space where the image should be, sometimes with a broken link graphic because your browser times out and can’t resolve the link. I can’t rely on it for blog or web-posts, so that’s a chunk of utility value gone.

Bottom line: it has problems displaying some .png images. It has problems presenting images for web-page and blog use. The interface and the total lack of any editing capability (crop, resize, red-eye or simply change format) means it ain’t no Flickr (or even Picassa). I’ve voted with my feet, abandoned this app and gone back to Flickr. AJS

4 thoughts on “Review: Windows Live Online Photos

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