We just spent a week in New York, staying at a hotel in Times Square very close to this sign with a very expensive display showing a Windows error. I’m sad that I missed it! It’s reasonable to assume that the advertising space in Times Square is among the most expensive on the planet, estimated at over $69 million/year and that Sprint surely pays several hundred thousand dollars a year for this street level advertising above the very busy 42nd Street subway station. Seems like a good idea to invest a little money in finding a more stable platform for their billboard.

Davak recently blogged about a sentiment near and dear to my heart, that Windows is okay on the desktop but server rooms around the world should take out a restraining order against it (okay, paraphrasing a bit). Maybe we should make a new category of where Windows doesn’t blong: public places. If nothing else, Microsoft got some free advertising until someone rebooted.

Being able to trade your pictures and slideshows through a beautiful little program seems to be the goal of Microsoft Max. To their credit, it does those things well. You select the pictures you want to trade, you log into papa Microsoft, and then you send your pictures to whomever you wish. Selecting the picture and setting up the slide show is very easy and efficient. Microsoft is trying to keep it simple — bravo for that. So what’s the problem?

Why do you need all these steps to trade pictures? Why does grandma or grandpa need to install Max to view pictures? The main problem is that this is really done better through a web format. What is really needed is a “Picasa export to Flickr” type program and service. Publishing slide shows and pictures to the web makes much more sense. You can view the pictures from anywhere… work, coffee shop, cell phone, etc. With Max, you need Max.

To install Max right now, you need XP SP2. Longhorn/Vista will not even work:

Max will automatically download and install WinFX Runtime Components 3.0 Beta 2. You will need to uninstall .Net Framework 2.0 prior to installation as well. My installation failed a couple of times. Microsoft places a link to the installation on your desktop so I imagine this is a common issue. By re-running the installation, it will eventually work.

The graphics within Max are excellent. Pictures slide around and resize with awesome eye candy. You can’t help but think about Picasa when you see it.

Unlike Picasa, however, there are no sexy editing tools. You can’t deny that with the new Vista movement, programs are more pleasing to the eye.

My feeling is that this is Microsoft’s attack to take back control of the internet. Microsoft wants the internet to flow to users through their software. They want us to leave web services like Flickr alone. Will this work? Maybe. If Max is installed on VIsta by default, I can see people using this; it will not be the weapon that kils Flickr.

If Microsoft’s plan is to have their own photo posting service, this would be an excellent way to start. If this is Microsoft’s demostration to the XP world their new vista style, the eye candy should please everyone.

Microsoft Max Blog
Microsoft Max Download