Digital Image Suite, Microsoft's comprehensive set of photo-management tools, has a lot to offer the entry-level photographer. All of the applications--Microsoft Digital Image Library (organizer), Digital Image Pro (image editor), and Photo Story 2.0 (simple video creator)--are equipped with loads of features, slick interfaces, and seamless help for newcomers. None of the programs take more than five minutes to master, and the entire suite, which encompasses just about every potential use for a digital photo, is a bargain at $99. Note that the typical install takes 380MB--and that's without clip art, which can be accessed from the second CD in the set.
When you first load Digital Image Library, the program searches your computer for photos, then drops them into a folder view on the left side of the screen. The main desktop area displays image thumbnails, while a small information panel takes up the bottom of the screen. As you browse through the folder panel, you can opt to show all the images found on your system or choose specific folders. A few buttons scattered about the main window let you increase thumbnail size, change the display order of the images, and add more pictures to your library.
Digital Image Library lets you organize your files to your liking. Images may be sorted by a wide range of critera, including keyword, date, size, file type, event, or camera. You can flag individual thumbnails with keywords such as for review or needs touch-up, and the program's default list of tags can be easily customized. The information associated with a thumbnail is displayed on the bottom of the screen and is editable by clicking an individual entry. We give Digital Image Library's interface a perfect score; it's polished and intuitive, and we never had to consult a help file to figure out how to use it.
Perhaps most importantly, Digital Image Library provides tools for archiving your photos. When you select the Archive button on the toolbar, a wizard appears to help you select photos and choose an archive destination: CD, DVD, or an external hard drive, for example. The program also allows you to schedule automatic backup reminders, so you'll never forget to safeguard your photo library.