Microsoft is working on new technology dubbed Windows Media Services to make it easier for consumers to load their pictures into a PC, arrange and retrieve them.
Carl Stork, general manager of Microsoft?s Windows Operating System division, said on the second day of the Winhec conference in Los Angeles, that managing digital pictures was a major growth opportunity for the PC industry.
"It?s a new usage scenario for PCs and as a result, it should drive new demand," he predicted.
A key component of Windows Media Services is the Windows Image Acquisition (WIA) feature, which was announced at the conference on Wednesday. WIA is a software layer that enables Windows applications to acquire and import images from any WIA compliant scanner or digital camera transparently. Users can then add annotations to the graphics for easy retrieval.
A second major component of Windows Media Services, Digital Content Management (DCM), catalogues and retrieves images on a Windows PC and provides multiple ways of searching images, including using the image annotations added by the user.
Microsoft also demonstrated a "looks like" feature in DCM, which enables the system to search for an image that resembles any given picture chosen by the user. Such images include those stored offline, for example on a CD-R disk, because DCM maintains an index of miniature "thumbnail" images.
Stork said that although DCM will initially only manage still images, it will also handle other digital content over time.
WIA and DCM will both be included in Windows 2000 and in next year?s release of Consumer Windows. The WIA device driver model and development kit will ship in the third quarter.
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