Here's What (Else) Is New and Cool from Microsoft

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XP and Vista Shutterbugs Unite: Map Your Pictures with Pro Photo Tools

Ever since Microsoft rolled out its now-venerable RAW Image Viewer and Thumbnailer for Windows XP (still a very good way to view exposure metadata for supported digital camera files), it's been busy developing various photography related tools. This week, Microsoft released Pro Photo Tools for Windows XP and Vista.

Pro Photo Tools includes the extensive metadata editing features found in an earlier tool, Microsoft Photo Info , but adds the ability to geotag your photos. Geotagging enables you to store location information with your photos. This feature has been present on Flickr for some time, but Pro Photo Tools has two differences:

    • You don't need to upload your photos to geotag them
    • Pro Photo Tools incorporates a built-in GPS interface.

If you don't have a GPS, though, you can enter street information manually, and if all you know is a city and state, you can drag the pushpin locator for the photo to the correct location. You can also place your photos on a track route. Once you've added GPS or other information with Pro Photo Tools, it shows up when you view the photo's metadata.

Pro Photo Tools is available for 32-bit versions only (sorry about that, 64-bit users!) of Windows XP SP2 and Vista here (the download requires validation of your system). The .msi installer is 6.3MB, and you should also download and read the 79KB Release Notes (.rtf) file. Some highlights:

    • Windows XP users must install .NET Framework 3.0 before installing Pro Photo Tools
    • Photo Info must be uninstalled before installing Pro Photo Tools
    • There is limited support for some camera models

Vista Users: Redmond Rolls Out More Information and Tools for BitLocker

BitLocker's a highly-effective way to encrypt your Windows Vista Ultimate or Enterprise hard disk (and it's also supported on Windows Server 2008). Originally, preparing the hard disk for use by BitLocker required diving into the Vista command prompt world (aka "Son of DOS") and typing in a bunch of commands, or running a script .

One of the first Windows Ultimate Extras for Vista was a BitLocker drive preparation tool. Now, Microsoft has published a detailed guide for using the tool, dealing with possible problems, and providing links to the tool for Vista Enterprise and Windows Server 2008 users at KB article 933246 . Vista Ultimate users (original or SP1) get the tool via Windows Update, where it comes with a bonus: Secure Online Key Backup for both your BitLocker recovery password and your EFS (encrypting file system) recovery certificate.

An encrypted hard disk can stop hackers (as long as they don't bring along a can of compressed air ), but what do you do if your BitLocker-encrypted system plays dead and you don't have a recent backup? Instead of taking an elevator ride to the top of a tall building and pulling a Waring Hudsucker , download the BitLocker Repair Tool . It's been around since last fall, but your company previously needed to have a Premier support account or you had to ask for it by phone. Now, the tool is yours for the download. To learn how it works (it's a command-prompt driven tool), see KB article 928201 .

Microsoft also rolled out trial versions of its Expression Media 2 image manager and catalog viewer late in April, but I'll tell you more about those next week after I've had a chance to try them. That's a good project while we continue to wait for a formal release of Windows XP SP3.

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