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What Is Microsoft Doing with Digital Photography?

Mazner also showcased Live Mesh technology that allows you to literally control your PC through remote desktop connection and both transfer and edit photos remotely from the field. By being able to access your desktop PC remotely, photographers will have greater processing power and other resources to edit photos than they might have on hand at a remote location. The technology allows the different versions of your edited photos to synch to multiple locations and multiple devices after the editing is done.

There were several other technologies that Microsoft showcased as part of the conference including Windows Media Home Server (which I hope to test out myself soon), interesting dehazing photo processing technology, image deblurring technology that will help the more broader consumers take clearer photos, and a keynote talk by Microsoft CTO David Vaskevitch.

Vaskevitch talked about the role that photos play for Microsoft. "The more emotional attachment people have to their photos, the better for Microsoft," said Vaskevitch. Although I was not expecting much information, I did ask Vaskevitch about Flickr and whether or not he thought it was a mistake for Microsoft not to buy Flickr back in the day. Vaskevitch said that deals like the Flickr buyout were complicated and that it was hard to know if it was a mistake or not, but he did call Flickr a "sharing phenomena." Of course with a Microsoft/Yahoo (YHOO) deal that seems to be on again/off again on a daily basis, it would be interesting to see what Microsoft might do with Flickr if they ever did end up owning it as part of a company merger.

As an aside, it was interesting to see how much Canon seems to dominate the Pro Photography market. At one point the mostly Pro photographer audience was asked how many used Canon and how many used Nikon, and Canon had a much larger show of hands, by a landslide actually.

I also enjoyed talking one on one at a reception Wednesday night with Mary Kae McCullough, who as Microsoft's photo editor, oversees all of the places that Microsoft buys stock photography. According to McCullough, even though stock agency Corbis is 100% owned by Bill Gates, this does not factor into where they buy their images. She told me that Microsoft buys lots of images from Corbis as well as Getty and also images directly from photographers themselves. McCullough said that Encarta used to be one of the top places that Microsoft bought stock photography, but now MSN is one of the big buyers of stock photography as the images on their front page change frequently.

Another tool that was mentioned during the Summit was Microsoft's Pro Photo Tools. This is an excellent free application that you can use to keyword and geotag your photos at the file level. By adding this metadata into your photos *before* uploading to sites like Flickr or Zooomr, you save time and ensure that this valuable meta data is always kept with your original photo files.