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Microsoft’s Pro Photo Summit

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My pal Robert Scoble has a blog post up entitled "Is Microsoft Trying to Capture the Photography Market?" Robert’s post is in part a reaction to Microsoft’s invite only Pro Photo Summit which is taking place this week up on Wednesday and Thursday at Microsoft’s campus in Redmond. Scoble is going to be attending as am I.

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This is the third year that Microsoft has held a Pro Photo Summit, so I’m not entirely sure that this event is predictive of any change in Microsoft strategy towards photography per se. This is the first year that I’m going though and I’m excited to check out what Microsoft has in store to share with us.

Some of the agenda for this year’s events include a keynote talk by Microsoft CTO David Vaskevitch and a photographer keynote by photographer Frans Lanting. Additionally, summit topics include microstock photography (Lise Gagne, Artistic Director of iStockPhoto will be there), an update on the orphan works act, Eric Chan from Adobe on camera profiling, a talk about photographing the Presidential campaign from the Washington Post’s Melina Mara and a number of presentations from folks doing interesting things with photography from the Microsoft Research groups.

I was surprised that I didn’t see anyone from Corbis on the agenda. Although Corbis, as a 100% Bill Gates owned entity would certainly be held within arms length from Microsoft, I’m surprised that someone from Getty (iStockphoto) would be there and not Corbis.

In the past what I’ve seen most visible coming from Microsoft about photography has typically come from their Research group, interesting stuff but not huge application here and now in today’s markets. I’m not sure that they have made a significant push in the photo space as of yet. Microsoft doesn’t really compete in the photo software space dominated by Adobe and more recently Apple’s Aperture product, but maybe this is going to change at some point.

There was a rumor of course late last year that Microsoft was getting ready to get into the photo sharing space in a serious way. And then of course, earlier this year Microsoft bought the photosharing site WebFives (formerly known as Vizrea). I suspect that perhaps a lot of the push towards building out a photosharing play by Microsoft though has been put on hold with all of the Yahoo acquisition talks. If Microsoft were to buy Flickr along with a Yahoo acquisition it wouldn’t make sense to really build out their own new service.

In any event I’m excited to be heading up to Microsoft this week and excited to be learning more about what they are up to with photography. You can check out Microsoft’s Pro Photography site on the web here. They have a great free application, Microsoft Pro Photo Tools, that you can download on the site to keyword and geotag your photos on a PC.

I’m also participating in a Photowalk in Seattle if you can make it on Friday night. It looks like we have a great prospective turn out with 65 people RSVPing for the event over at upcoming.org so far. Come on out and join us if you are attending the conference or will be in Seattle on Friday.

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