June 29, 2006 12:17 PM PDT

Microsoft woos digital-photography enthusiasts

Microsoft has recently been attempting to appeal to a crowd it traditionally hasn't focused on: digital photographers.

The software behemoth has never been known as a leader in the creative side of software manufacturing; that title arguably goes to Apple Computer or Adobe Systems. But Microsoft is trying to change that image in anticipation of the eventual release of its Vista operating system, particularly in the field of digital photography.

Thursday marked its first Pro Photo Summit, featuring the launch of a program called Icons of Imaging, designed to showcase the work of leaders and innovators in photography; and the announcement of the winners of a Future Pro Photographer Contest.

The inaugural summit introduced the first six "icons," an array of photographers whose specialties range from nature to celebrities to weddings. A panel of judges selected an overall winner and three runners-up in the Future Pro contest, which Microsoft says had 13,000 entries from 92 countries. The grand prize went to a Romanian entrant, while all the runners-up were American. (To see the winning photos, click here.)

Hosting a high-profile photographers' event isn't the only thing Microsoft has been doing to boost its stance among digital-photography enthusiasts. Earlier this week, the software company purchased iView Multimedia, a British start-up that specializes in digital photo organization, as a potential rival to Adobe's Lightroom and Apple's Aperture.

Microsoft is also working on Windows Media Photo, a format designed to rival the popular JPEG digital-photo format. Handling digital media, including photos, is one of the key features Microsoft plans to tout with Windows Vista, the successor to Windows XP that is set for mainstream launch in January.

But whether Microsoft will actually be able to lure photo aficionados, largely grounded in Adobe Photoshop and Aperture on a Mac, is unclear.

CNET News.com's Ina Fried contributed to this report.

See more CNET content tagged:
Adobe Systems Inc., digital photograph, Apple Computer, leader, photograph

4 comments

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If Microsoft Introduces a new image format...
They will cede respect and control from any and all professionals.

Point blank, the most idiotic thing they could do - the web and
image formats in general are a well-entrenched set of alphabet
soup formats, each with strengths and weaknesses. Do we really
need a Microsoft-engineered image format to make things just that
much more confusing?
Posted by Hep Cat (440 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Absurd.
I think they should just focus all their efforts at releasing Vista
on time. Nevermind Professional Photographers...lol

They should get their act together and stop looking elsewhere
and focus their efforts for a timely release of Vista. For crying
out loud! And Office for that matter.

But again, they are just copying other strategies that have been
already done by others (nothing new here), I clearly think it
makes no sense for them to partake in this strategy at this time.
When Vista & Office are nowhere near completed. Absolutely
absurd!

And why are all these useless articles creating buzz for a
company that has just annouced delays to two of its major
software programs???

But now they want to go after digital photographers! Please.

They shouldn't worry about that it should be the least of their
worries that market is already dominated by Adobe & Apple. Plus
a majority of digital photographers are using a Mac not a PC. No
way, MS can compete with Apple given the state of affairs its in,
currently with Gates leaving and their company restructuting
which to me is an absolute joke. They should focus their efforts
on Vista and stop fooling around with another failed venture.

But the truth is they have no plan which is very sad and as far as
I'm concerned their just shooting blanks.
Posted by ServedUp (413 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Absurd?
What a weak arguement. I am by no means a MS apologist, but I can't believe you think they are spinning their wheels. The most powerful software creator on the planet, and you think they can't do something meaningful? That is laughable. I think this is a great thing for digital photography. Kind of like the introduction of fuel injection to mainstream cars. Expect to see great changes in photography, not just from MS, but absolutely in reply to their efforts. This is a wake up call to Adobe, Corel, and any other DP software vendor to get cracking or get left behind. If MS focus their creative attention on something, and the current shift at MS is to really understand the needs of the users, not just what their engineers can invent, we should be in for some real futuristic stuff. If anything this is MS throwing down the gauntlet and challenging Adobe and Corel to come out swinging, in the end we all win. Don't worry ServedUp, Vista will be here soon. MS has the resources to pull off multiple ventures at one time.
Posted by rclinch (1 comment )
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