WARNING: Windows Live Essentials 2011

Started Oct 3, 2010 | Discussions thread
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WARNING: Windows Live Essentials 2011
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Inspired by this thread:

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1004&message=36073100

I decided to take a look at MS Windows Live Essentials 2011 and the Photo Gallery component in particular. This despite a warning that a problem with erroneous GPS data discovered during the beta was apparently carried over to the final release.

I was especially interested in the face recognition capabilities and let her rip for a couple of days on a collection of approx 50,000 images. The face recognition appeared not to be up to the job and I gave up on it.

Shortly afterwards, I noticed some file size discrepancies suggesting that certain files had been substantially modified. I then spent several hours restoring my entire image collection from backup since the integrity of hundreds of Gigs of valuable data was in question.

Having restored and verified my primary image collection, I carried out some further experiments on copies of a few images.

I was horrified by my findings.

I took an ordinary JPEG with a file size of 4.1 MBytes into Photo Gallery and added a simple caption. The simple act of tagging caused the file to be rewritten. I suppose that's fair enough but...

Rather than simply adding the metadata to the file, it seems that the software fully decompressed and recompressed the JPEG image. My 4.1 MBytes file was now a 1.4 MBytes file. Way to go Microsoft!!!

I did try changing the program options and increased the default JPEG quality from 98% to 100%. Same result!

It's not just a one time thing either. I tried modifying the value of the caption several times and pixel peeping revealed further degradation in image quality.

Microsoft have managed to make editing the image metadata a lossy process!

This is completely unnecessary and frankly offensive.

Needless to say, this software will never be allowed to touch my primary image collection again. One really has to wonder what Microsoft were thinking and whether they even understand the basics of digital asset management.

In the past, I've been irritated by Microsoft's rather cavalier attitude toward disk space conservation (on the system drive). But I'm even less happy with this attempt to reduce my storage needs by discarding my data without warning.

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