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RealTime IT News

Microsoft Tweaks Plus! Digital Media Edition

Looking to beef up sales of the popular Windows XP Plus! Digital Media Edition software, Microsoft has released an upgrade that adds the ability to burn user-created photo stories to recordable CDs (CD-R).

The new version of Plus Digital Media Edition, which is a key part of Microsoft's plan to turn Windows XP into full-fledged digital entertainment system, adds significant tweaks to the popular Plus! Photo Story 2.

Plus! Photo Story lets users with digital cameras create and manage images as movie-type stories with a non-technical, drag-and-drop interface. The latest addition to the feature will allow photo stories to be saved and burned to video CDs for playback in most consumer DVD players. The video CD burning capability is being powered by technology from Sonic Solutions.

Plus Photo Story 2 has also been fitted with a new project-level editing feature that lets users to save a photo story work in progress and return at a later date to continue editing. A new picture browser has been added to allow users to import photos by date taken, keyword, event and ratings.

While the Plus Digital Media Edition software set is primarily a consumer offering, Microsoft officials believe it could be a hit with businesses that depend on image displays, like the real estate or construction sectors.

For instance, a real estate agent could use the photo editing and display suite to create a photo slide show for buyers interested in a particular property. Or, a construction manager on site can update his bosses on progress at a work site.

Plus Digital Media Edition is fitted with four categories -- Photo Story, Party Mode, Audio Converter, Plus! Dancer and Sync-and-Go. The software suite is only available on the Windows XP operating system.

To lure new users, Microsoft has released free trial versions of Plus! Photo Story 2 LE and Plus! Dancer LE, two of the most used features in the suite.

At retail, the new Plus! Digital Media Edition will be priced at $19.95. Existing users can download the upgrade for free.