April 24, 2009
Microsoft has managed to do it again. They created something useful (and quite innovative I might add) and then went ahead and Microsoft-ized it.
I’m talking about the PhotoZoom.com website that Microsoft used to have that helped showcase their Seadragon technology. PhotoZoom.com allowed users to upload their high resolution images to a server where it would be processed into the many smaller image snippets that Seadragon uses. Users could then copy the URL of the processed image and use it in a Seadragon plugin on their own web pages, blogs, etc. It all worked quite well, and was server based so anyone could use it.
Maybe it was a marketing decision, or maybe too many people were linking to it rather than actually visiting the site, who knows, but Microsoft decided to change PhotoZoom.com. Under the new name of PhotoZoomPix.com, Microsoft has done away with the option of viewing single images and providing URLs to them. Instead, it is more album based. Users can still upload high resolution images and view them on the PhotoZoomPix.com website, but the only thing users can link to externally now is one of their albums. Not great for those who want to show a single image in the plugin on an external web page.
As well, Microsoft makes it clear that this is a technology demonstration website and it will not be around after Dec 31, 2009. All user data will be lost after this time. The site is intended to demo Deep Zoom technology which is available to PC users in their Deep Zoom Composer application. Unfortunately for Mac users (such as myself) there is no client software to generate the Deep Zoom processed data.
Needless to say, I’m a little disappointed that Microsoft isn’t investing more into this service. Their technology is sound, but right now they’re limiting it to PC users who download their composer software. I have no idea if a Mac version is in the works or not, but regardless, they’re relying on their users to go through the effort of processing their images and also to have their own server space to store this data. That could be a problem for a lot of people who just want to exhibit their images.
I think this technology is pretty innovative and very useful. I’d be willing to pay for the processing and hosting services that PhotoZoom.com used to provide. I hope Microsoft understands this and brings it back in one form or another, with back-end Deep Zoom processing and storage and links to the individual images. For now, I’m going to have to rely on linking to albums, or possibly find a PC to run Composer on.