Microsoft's Photosynth Cool, If Frustrating

Web-based service creating 3-D panoramas can be difficult to use—but often worth it
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 21, 2008 10:12 AM CDT
In this screen shot provided by Microsoft, Photosynth, Microsoft's new online tool for presenting a collection of related digital photos, is shown.    (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Live Labs, Microsoft’s 125-man web innovation unit, launched its first major product today, and it’s certifiably neato, Walter Mossberg writes in the Wall Street Journal. Dubbed “Photosynth” the free, web-based program converts your photos into navigable 3-D environments. It’s an amazing service, Mossberg writes, “an encouraging sign that innovation and creativity still live in Redmond.”

David Pogue, in the New York Times, has a few more reservations. He, too, believes Photosynth is “wicked cool,” but it’s also frustrating. It takes practice to create sufficiently “synthy” pictures, and navigating the finished product isn’t intuitive. But most disappointing is just how photo-oriented Photosynth is. Every picture retains its edges and identity, making Photosynth “less a virtual-reality tool than a glorified slideshow.”