Unfortunately, Windows Live Photo Gallery, one of the components of Windows Live, automatically installs Windows Desktop Search on Windows XP systems. Windows Desktop Search, as it turns out, is used by Windows Live Photo Gallery. Ouch!
Thanks Were Premature...
The good news for WDS haters is that Microsoft announced shortly after Windows Live Photo Gallery went 'live' that you could uninstall WDS after installing an update to Windows Live Photo Gallery. The bad news is that Microsoft has now discovered that uninstalling WDS also breaks Windows Live Photo Gallery.
Send WDS Packing, and Count the Ways Windows Live Photo Gallery Breaks...
According to Knowledge Base article 946486, here's what happens to Windows Live Photo Gallery when you uninstall WDS from your Windows XP system:
On a Windows XP-based computer, uninstalling Windows Desktop Search may remove property handler registrations made by Windows Imaging Component (WIC) that are required to support photo file types in Windows Live Photo Gallery. The file name extensions that are affected include the following:
You will only see .jpg files in Windows Live Photo Gallery. Other photo files will be removed from the Windows Live Photo Gallery and will no longer be detected. Any metadata changes that could not be written to these files will be lost. These metadata changes include tags, captions, ratings, and the date that the photo taken. This issue may also prevent the Windows Live Photo Gallery from successfully reading metadata from or writing metadata to .jpg photos.
Fortunately, your picture files themselves are undamaged, but tags and other metadata you created go down the tubes.
Now Arriving (After a Short Delay...) the Solution!
Windows Update is now delivering Update for Windows Live Photo Gallery (KB 946486) to Windows XP users who use Windows Live Photo Gallery (Vista users don't use WDS, and don't need to worry about this problem). I received my update this evening. If you have Windows Update configured to automatically update your system, you probably have it now. However, if you have Windows Update configured for manual updating, be sure to check available updates and install this one.
Do The Math...Why Did a "Brand-New" Update Take Five Weeks to Arrive?
You might notice that this update seems to have kicked around in hyperspace for awhile, as the date on the KB article linked to the update (KB946486) is January 22. Why did it take over a month to get this update distributed?
As a review of posts at the microsoft.public.windows.live.photogallery newsgroup reveals, the update was originally released in late January, but didn't install properly. After being retooled, the update now installs and works properly. If you want to send WDS packing, you can do so safely after this update is installed.
The updated version of Windows Live Photo Gallery is Version 2008 (Build 12.0.1329.201).