The History of Microsoft – Page 4

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The story of Microsoft continues here, the final page…

The Year 2005

Major software releases include SQL Server 2005, Microsoft Expression Media, Visual Studio 2005 Standard, BizTalk Server 2006, etc.

Jan 2005: Bangalore, India has MS its research center opened. Also there is an expansion of Redmond HQ.

Aug 2005: Brian Kevin Turner from Wal-Mart becomes COO of Microsoft.

Sep 2005: At Safeco Field, Seattle, Microsoft celebrates the 20th anniversary of MS Windows and 30th anniversary of the company.

Nov 22, 2005: Xbox 360 has been launched. It became extremely popular from the first day.



The Year 2006

Mar 2006: Microsoft gets its 5000th patent.

Jun 2006: Bill Gates announces his transition from day-to-day activities giving increased privileges to Ray Ozzie (who would become CTO) and Craig Mundie (who would become Chief Research and Strategy Officer).

Nov 2006: Microsoft and Novell come together to develop interoperability between Windows and Linux operating systems. On Nov 14, Zune 30, the original Zune player has been released.



The Year 2007

Jan 2007: Windows Vista has been announced with admirable improvements in user interface and security. Also released was MS Office 2007.

Mar 2007: Internet Explorer 8 has been released.

Apr 2007: Microsoft launches Silverlight as a competition to Adobe Flash and Apple QuickTime.

May 2007: Microsoft Surface technology sees daylight for the first time. The original Surface tablet comes much later, but the technology existed this year itself.

Aug 2007: Due to Google’s increased presence in online advertising market, Microsoft also tries to get into the niche. The move happens with the acquisition of aQuantive for over 6 billion dollars. Turns out, this was the largest acquisition by Microsoft to date. However, it became a colossal failure for Microsoft as Google continued to dominate every area in online advertising game. An important service released this month is Microsoft SkyDrive, the cloud storage platform of Microsoft.

Sept 2007: Halo 3 was released and went on to become the most popular video game of the year.

Oct 2007: MS launches HealthVault that helps people store their health information. Google also released its health database, Google Health the next year. HealthVault is still operational through its website. On 16 Oct, MS releases a round table video conferencing device shown below:



The Year 2008

Major software release: Visual Studio 2008, MS Office for Mac 2008, SQL Server 2008, and Windows Server 2008 (codename: Longhorn)

Feb 2008: Microsoft proposes acquisition of Yahoo! to be able to compete with Google more efficiently. The proposed acquisition was for 44.6 billion dollars giving 31 dollars per share. The merger talk between the firms happened since 2005, but this was the major offer made. Yahoo would decline the offer and cause its share price to drop further due to shareholder disbelief. The acquisition of Yahoo! actually happened much later, and is a great story indeed.

May 2008: WorldWide Telescope has been released. In that year, it directly competed with Google Earth. Microsoft withdrew the Yahoo! merger offer, since Yahoo! didn’t like the price.

June 27, 2008: Bill Gates retires.


Sept 2008: MS announces Hyper-V. This is a technology that enables running an operating system within another (like running Windows XP from a computer that runs Windows 7).

The Year 2009

May 2009: The birth of Bing as Microsoft’s major sub-brand. The BlueTrack technology has been used in Microsoft mouse, making it usable on any surface.

Sept 2009: Zune HD touch media player becomes available.

Oct 2009: Microsoft launches Windows 7, highly acclaimed, highly secure version of Windows. Windows phones also become available that have Windows Mobile 6.5 Pro.

The Year 2010

May 2010: Office has its latest version released—MS Office 2010 along with MS SharePoint 2010.

Sept 2010: Halo Reach has been released and crosses 200 million purchases within 24 hours.

Oct 2010: Cloud based version of MS Office called Office 365 has been created. Also, the Windows Phone 7 has been released with its first devices, announced by Steve Ballmer.


Nov 2010: Motion detector for Xbox, Kinect has been launched, and has sold over 8 million units in the first two months. This month, Microsoft Lync has been released. This is an enterprise communications package containing instant messenger, virtual presence, file transfer, etc.

The Year 2011

Mar 2011: Windows Intune has been launched. This is a cloud-based PC management program. Internet Explorer 9 has been released.

May 2011: Bing search offers personalized search based on the suggestions of your Facebook friends.

Sept 2011: Windows Phone 7.5 (codename: Mango) has been released.

Oct 2011: Microsoft’s largest acquisition to date: Luxembourg-based Skype, for 8.5 billion dollars.

Dec 2011: Xbox has a new dashboard allowing voice and motion control with the help of Kinect.

The Current Microsoft: Year 2012

Oct 26, 2012: Microsoft releases Windows 8 in two editions—RT and 8 Pro. Microsoft releases Surface, the tablet powered by Windows RT, a direct competition to Apple iPad.

Oct 29, 2012: Unveiling of Windows Phone 8

Nov 6, 2012: Halo 4 has been released.


It has been a pleasurable journey to go through Microsoft’s entire history in these four pages. I have tried to gather as much information as possible about the development of this great company. We have never been able to talk about computers without mentioning ‘Microsoft’, and that is the brand identity of this firm.

[Photo credit:]

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The History of Microsoft – Page 3

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Here continues, the history of Microsoft…

New Ventures: 1995—1997

Feb 1994: MS has acquired Softimage Inc, a company from Canada.

Nov 14, 1994: The new slogan of MS “Where Do You Want to Go Today?” comes about. The campaign was introduced in a SoHo in New York (a restaurant chain owned by Robert DeNiro).

Jan 1995: Bill Gates has announced Microsoft Bob, an interactive application supposed to simplify PC tasks. Bob went on to become a phenomenal failure in Microsoft’s history, causing it to be withdrawn from production soon.

Mar 1995: Microsoft and DreamWorks join hands to form DreamWorks Interactive that will produce interactive, entertainment software.

Aug 1995: On 24 Aug 1995, Microsoft releases Windows 95, which would become enormously successful selling a million copies within the first four days of release. Also released was MS Office 95. This month marks the release of the most important web browser for two decades, Microsoft Internet Explorer, and the major portal called MSN.

Sept 1995: SideWinder 3D Pro, a gaming joystick from Microsoft is released.

Dec 1995: Microsoft signs a pact with NBC to create MSNBC, an interactive news channel (MSNBC would go live in June 1996). Microsoft has announced over 20 products and technologies related to the development of Internet. They include MSN, Internet Explorer, and a number of others.

Jan 1996: Microsoft has acquired Vermeer Technologies. This would pave way to the creation of Microsoft FrontPage, the HTML editing software from the company.

Apr 1996: The Microsoft Exchange Server is made available to users. This is an email and calendar application available from Microsoft server so that clients can use it over a network.

Sept 1996: Windows CE (Embedded Compact) is announced. This is the first ever project from Microsoft for mobile devices. This version is specifically created for machines with low hardware features, supporting x86 and ARM architectures. WinCE gets released directly to OEMs just like the current Windows RT; many people think CE stands for ‘Compact Edition’ or ‘Concise Edition’, including me, previously. Also released are Windows NT Workstation and Server.

Oct 1996: MSN goes online through its website.

Nov 1996: MS Flight Simulator game is released for the Windows platform. Previously it was available only for Macintosh.

Jan 16, 1997: Bill Gates releases MS Office Suite 97. The new application Outlook 97 is packaged into this version. FrontPage and Access are not yet part of the suite.

Aug 1997: Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Bill Gates come together with a 150 million dollar investment in Apple by Microsoft. They outline product and technology development together.

Sept 1997: Internet Explorer 4.0 gets released.

Oct 1997: Age of Empires strategy game gets released by Microsoft Studios, developed by Ensemble Studios. The strategy game would go on to become one of the most successful and would cause the development of other strategy games. Sun Microsystems sues Microsoft for its wrong implementation of Java platform.

Dec 1997: One of Microsoft’s most important acquisitions happens with Hotmail. Hotmail was developed by Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith in July 1996 as HoTMaiL, and it went on to become one of the premier provider of internet based email.

Web Monopoly: 1998—2000

May 1998: The US Justice Department and 20 state attorneys general file an antitrust lawsuit against MS. This is another great story, the story of Internet Explorer. There was Netscape, a very popular browser, and Microsoft extended support for IE on Win98, and used its monopoly in OS market to create market for IE and dethrone Netscape. This was the reason why the US Justice Dept. sued Microsoft.

The company eventually failed the lawsuit and had to separate its OS and software business so that software companies would have a better opportunity to develop software for the Windows platform. However, US Court of Appeals would reverse this decision in 2001.

June 1998: Windows 98 gets released. This and the upgrade known as Second Edition have been known to be very stable.

July 1998: Steve Ballmer becomes the President of Microsoft. Also released software include Windows Media Player, Encarta Africana, Windows NT NetShow Services, and NetShow Theater Server.

Bill Gates & Steve Ballmer

Oct 1998: Microsoft releases the Microsoft Cordless Phone System that interfaces with the computer to manage telephone functions.

Feb 1999: Microsoft has its online store at

Mar 1999: IE 5.0 gets released with over a million downloads, solidly placing it as the main browser.

June 1999: MSN Mobile is launched. Also released is Office Professional 2000, including Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, Access, Publisher.

July 1999: The launch of MSN Messenger.

Sept 1999: Age of Empires game has its second version released, the Age of Kings.

Nov 1999: Microsoft releases its multiplayer online game, Asheron’s Call. Microsoft Passport goes live. This is one of the first instances of online wallet.

Jan 2000: Bill Gates becomes the chairman and chief software architect of MS, and appoints Steve Ballmer the CEO.

Feb 2000: On 17 Feb, MS has released Windows 2000 Professional (the first operating system that I have experienced).

April 2000: Announced software includes Microsoft Project 2000, Visio 2000 (by virtue of an acquisition), etc.

Jul 2000: MSN becomes the most widely used website in the world with over 201 million visitors during the previous month.

Sept 2000: â€œInside Out Microsoft – In Our Own Words” a book written by over a thousand MS employees goes to the hands of every MS employee. This book commemorates the 25th year of the company. The celebrations of the 25th year anniversary starts in Safeco Field, Seattle on Sept 5. This month MS also released Windows ME (Millennium Edition).

Age of eXPerience: 2001—2002

Jan 2001: Microsoft and Sun Microsystems have settled their lawsuit started back in 1997.

May 30, 2001: Office XP was released. It was also known as Office 10.

Oct 2001: Windows XP is here! The most important version of Windows ever! And it has become extremely popular during the last decade. Win XP was launched at the Marriott Marquis Theatre in New York City Times Square.

Nov 2001: Microsoft launches Xbox gaming console along with five games including the popular Halo.

Feb 2002: .NET Framework, one of the most important cross-platform application programming interfaces of Microsoft is launched. This coincides with the launch of Visual Studio .NET, the programming language suite containing Visual Basic, Visual C++, C#, etc.

Oct 2002: Microsoft unveils MSN 8 at New York Central Park.

Nov 2002: MS launches the online gaming service, Xbox Live with Starter Kit. The first Windows XP tablet PCs are also launched.

Rewarding Financial Success: 2003—2004

Jan 2003: The first annual dividend of the MS stock has been announced.

April 2003: Launch of Windows Server 2003.

HP Superdome Server
HP Superdome Server running 64-bit Windows Server 2003. In 2003, this was the fastest computer in the world

Jun 2003: Windows Mobile 2003 is announced.

Sept 2003: MS launches Office Live Meeting, a web conferencing service.

Oct 2003: Office Professional 2003 is released. This version had radically redesigned interface.

Apr 2004: Microsoft and Sun Microsystems join hands for technology development.

Jul 2004: Board of directors decides to return over 75 billion dollars to the shareholders through annual dividends or share buyback program. See how profitable MS stock has been over the years. Starck Mouse was developed, a highly ergonomic optical mouse.

Aug 2004: Windows XP SP 2 with Advanced Security Technologies was released. This included Windows Firewall, Pop-up Blocker, and Windows Security Center.

Sept 2004: Microsoft fingerprint reader has been released. It works on Windows XP and Vista.

Microsoft fingerprint reader

Oct 2004: Bill Gates releases Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005. Also released was Office Professional 2004 with Virtual PC for Macintosh.

Nov 2004: The popular game, Halo has its second version released. The sales exceed 2 million copies within a day.

The story of Microsoft continues in page 4.

[Image credit: Microsoft]

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The History of Microsoft – Page 2

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Here continues the story of Microsoft…

The Age of Windows: 1985

Jan 1985: Microsoft has created MacEnhancer that gives Apple Macintosh support for a number of peripherals used in IBM PC. This is an indication of the acceptance of Macintosh along with DOS-powered IBM PC.

Aug 1985: Microsoft and IBM get into an agreement to create computer operating systems and other basic software. Also, Microsoft has started development of its new headquarters in Redmond, Washington.

Sept 1985: Microsoft has its first production facility in Ireland. During this time, Office products like Excel were released for Apple Macintosh as well.

November, 1985: MICROSOFT WINDOWS RETAIL VERSION GETS RELEASED! This is probably the most important product ever from any software company in the history of the world.

Windows 1.0
Windows 1.0 had non-overlapping programs


A Public Company: 1986

Feb 1986: MS moves to its new headquarters in Redmond, Washington. [[image]]

Microsoft headquarters

Mar, 1986: CD-ROM technology is in its initial stage of development.

March 13, 1986: Microsoft IPO, marking the advent of one of the most lucrative trading stocks in the history of business. It started with 21 dollars per share and stands at about 29 dollars today after nine stock splits and regular dividend payments since 2003 (this means NASDAQ: MSFT is an extremely profitable and reliable stock to purchase even today).

Sept 1986: Microsoft releases a patch that incorporates support for CD-ROMs on MS-DOS.

Oct 1986: One of the most important publications by MS, MSJ (Microsoft Systems Journal) is released for the first time. Later on, it would get incorporated to the MSDN (Microsoft Developer Network). Microsoft Works software suite gets released for Apple Macintosh.

A Highly Recognizable Brand: 1987—1989

Feb 1987: Microsoft has a new logo that becomes the brand identity until recently when Microsoft changed its logo.

Microsoft logo until recently

Apr 1987: Microsoft and IBM’s joint venture signed back in 1985 has its first product, OS/2 was released. The collaboration between IBM and MS would break up in the future due to differences in opinion and MS’s tremendous success with its competing product, Windows.

Jul 1987: Birth of Microsoft PowerPoint with the acquisition of Forethought, the company that developed this presentation software.

Aug 1987: Microsoft releases a new mouse, fondly called “Dove Soap Bar”. This was a plug-and-play mouse, the first one of its kind.

Sept 1987: The first ever CD from Microsoft, Bookshelf, gets released. It was a collection of ten reference works.

Microsoft Bookshelf

Oct 1987: Microsoft announces MS Excel spreadsheet program for Windows personal computers. The first version supporting Macintosh was released earlier. Microsoft acquired InterMail, an email application developed by Interactive Network Technologies Inc.

Apr 1988: Microsoft has moved its development and distribution division to 245,000 sqft campus in Canyon Park industrial complex, Bothell, Washington.

Jun 1988: MS hires Mike Maples from IBM to head its software division as vice president.

Oct 1988: Microsoft kick-starts its educational ventures with the announcement of educational software that will include lite versions of Microsoft software.

Nov 1988: David Cutler joins Microsoft. He was a self-taught expert in computer software technology, and he spear-headed the development of Windows NT released in 1993. He was the head of development of all the subsequent versions of Microsoft Windows. In 2007, he was given the Microsoft Technical Recognition Award. Also, Microsoft has released the SDK (Software Development Kit) for Windows, causing an array of Windows applications to be developed in the coming years.

May 1989: SQL Server ships. This is the first relational database development language based on Sybase technology. This was a joint venture with Ashton-Tate Corporation.

June 1989: Microsoft Office gets released! It would go on to become one of the most successful software suites in history. It incorporated Excel, Word, Mail and PowerPoint. The first version of the suite was released for Apple Macintosh computers, extending seamless support for the friendly competition from Apple.

The first version of Microsoft Office


The Beginning of Monopoly: 1990—1993

Jan 1990: MS Word gets released for Windows.

Mar 1990: Nathan Myhrvold becomes vice president of advanced technology and business development (he joined MS in 1986. He later grew into chief technology officer at MS and founded Microsoft Research in 1991.

May 1990: Windows 3.0 gets released on May 22. Among other things, the popular card game Solitaire was also released this month.

July 1990: Microsoft’s net annual sales exceeded 1 billion USD.

Aug 1990: Microsoft Consulting Services Group is formed. This division works with other companies analyzing their technology requirements and promoting Microsoft products that will create profit for them.

Oct 1990: Microsoft has packaged the four important productivity programs into the MS Office Suite and made it available for Windows now. It has already been available for Macintosh.

Nov 1990: Bill Gates has delivered his ‘Information at Your Fingertips’ speech (IAYF) at Comdex (a technology convention conducted in fall every year). The original speech was not to be found, but I have a video here of the speech done in 1994 Comdex that continues the original IAYF concept by Bill Gates. This is an amazing speech that any technology enthusiast will find entertaining.

1991: The major software released this year includes Microsoft Visual Basic Professional for MS-DOS, Excel 2.0, MS-DOS version 5, Microsoft Publisher, Microsoft Works for Windows, and Microsoft Money.

Mar 1991: Microsoft has designed a new mouse known as ball point mouse for laptops.

June 1991: Launch of MS-DOS 5.0. Also, this month Microsoft was connected to the TCP/IP Internet available nationwide. It’s another great story, the development of the Internet.

Sept 1991: The Microsoft research group has been formed and Richard F Rashid was roped in to lead it.

1992: Major software launches include MS Access database management system, FoxPro, etc.

Jan 1992: Jeff Raikes becomes the senior vice president of marketing, sales, and service in the US. He would later become the CEO of MS’s charity wing, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Mar 1992: MS and Fox Software merge.

Apr 1992: Windows 3.1 for Workgroups has been released.

Windows for Workgroups 3.1

Jul 1992: MSDN, the Microsoft Developer Network takes birth. This would flourish to become one of the largest developer communities out there causing the development of hundreds of thousands of applications for Windows.

1993: Major software releases this year include MS Encarta, Windows NT, SQL Server for Win NT 4.2, Microsoft Fine Artist, etc.

Mar 1993: Microsoft Encarta gets released. This would go on to become the premier educational software for the decade, overshadowing even the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Microsoft Encarta

Apr 1993: Microsoft has designed the MS mouse 2.0 with a better design matching today’s mice. On Apr 23, Frank Gaudette, executive VP of Operations Group, passes away due to cancer.

May 1993: Windows NT (New Technology) and NT Advanced Server get released. This is one of the most important releases of Windows yet, supporting both 32-bit and 64-bit architectures at that time.

Oct 1993: Microsoft Home, a new brand (just like Live, Bing, etc.) has been announced. This brand would create a number of multimedia applications for both Windows and Macintosh.

[Image Credit: Microsoft]

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Which to Select: Windows 8 or Windows RT?

The next generation of Microsoft Windows comes in two flavors—Windows 8 and Windows RT—unlike all of the previous versions. There are significant differences between them. Windows 8 is the regular upgrade to the desktop operating system, while RT is a new version that incorporates the features of Windows 8. Although RT is just a name, some say it stands for ‘Runtime’. Let’s look at the differences between these operating systems.

Hardware Support


Do you know about the ARM architecture? It is the most widely used 32-bit computer architecture. It is the same architecture that any Android device uses. The same architecture is used on Apple iPhone, iPad, iPod, etc. They form the basis of other operating systems like Symbian, Solaris, MeeGo, HP WebOS, Solaris, and most of the Linux operating systems.

Microsoft has had only limited support for ARM architecture through Windows CE, Windows Mobile, etc.

The new Windows RT is the most important release of Windows that works on ARM devices. Microsoft has been daunted by the success of Google Android and Apple iOS on tablets and phones. They have been eclipsing Windows for years in the tablet and smartphone market. It’s high time for them to come up with a competitive solution, and Windows RT is their answer.

This operating system is solely developed for ARM and hence it will not work on regular Intel-based computers. On the other hand, Windows 8 is the version that works on personal computers based on Intel and AMD processors (x86 architecture).

In short, you can’t install Windows RT on a PC, and you can’t install Windows 8 on an ARM tablet. However, x86 tablets like the Sony VAIO Tap 20 could support Windows 8.

Software Support


Another major difference between the operating systems is here. RT cannot run any of your regular desktop applications. It is designed only for ‘apps’ that you use on Windows Phone devices, supporting the Metro user interface. On the other hand, Windows 8 is backward compatible supporting both Metro apps and regular Windows applications. This makes Windows 8 the right choice if you want to use existing applications.

Also, certain important applications like the Mozilla Firefox don’t work properly with Windows RT. Development of such software are also not supported. This is the reason why Mozilla has recently denounced Windows RT saying nothing can be done to develop a fully capable third-party browser on RT. Also, the Windows Media Player is not available on RT. You have to rely on third party apps for proper media management.

Windows 8 doesn’t come with Microsoft Office, while RT comes with a lite version of Office preinstalled. Only Word, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Excel are available. There is no Outlook.

In short: Use Windows 8 if you want to use your previous applications

Getting the Operating System


You will be able to purchase Windows 8 by the end of this month. Expected date is 26 Oct. This is for Windows 8 and 8 Pro. Windows RT is not available for purchase. It is delivered directly to OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers), like Samsung, Nokia, Dell, etc., for incorporating to their ARM-powered devices.

This also makes RT a very lite version of Windows, and thus less costly (the cost being incorporated to the device cost). Also, RT version has its own version of Office that is available for free. Regular PC users have to upgrade to Windows 8 (from 7 Starter or Home Premium) or 8 Pro (from Win 7 Professional or Ultimate). This can be done for a PC, laptop, or x86 tablet supporting Windows 8.

The User Interface


metro interface


If you know and like the Metro UI, you are in luck as this is the default user interface for both versions. However, being a desktop operating system, Windows 8 can be converted to the regular desktop interface. RT has only the Metro interface.



As you can see, RT has the only advantage being it’s very cheap. As soon as x86 tablets get released, Windows 8 and 8 Pro should become the primary choice of customers. However, the choice is really up to whether you want to use your regular Windows applications on a tablet or on your PC that has any previous version of Windows installed. If you just want a Metro style tablet, then RT is the right choice.

[Image used with permission from Microsoft]

Seven Absolutely Free Photo Editing Programs out There Obtained via Seven Absolutely Free Photo Editing Programs out There

For designers and painters, a photo editing application with myriad features is essential. It’s a painter’s dream if the application is free and has amazing precision. It’s very difficult to find an application capable of editing and touching up images with such features as found in the likes of Adobe Photoshop. In this article, you will find seven great photo editing applications that come without a price tag.

1. The GIMP

The GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) is a free open source application available for all the desktop operating systems€”Linux, Apple Macintosh, Microsoft Windows, Sun OpenSolaris, and FreeBSD. The GIMP website is non-profit and the application development is done with the help of volunteering developers from around the world.

Ooh! What a look! Thanks to GIMP for this image

Features available in the GIMP would make it more desirable than paid applications for image editing out there. The GIMP has all the tools that you need for painting€”brushes (custom and pattern-based), pencil tool, airbrush, etc.; powerful gradient editor; sub-pixel sampling; editing tools including layered editing; plugin support for adding support for additional file formats; etc. These are only a few features, and the full list will fill an entire page.

The file formats supported in GIMP by default itself include BMP, JPG, GIF, PNG, TIFF, MNG, PCX, PDF, PS, PSD, SVG, TGA, XPM, etc. And you can extend this capability with the help of plugins.

The GIMP actively seeks donations from the user community. This will keep the amazing GIMP project go on smoothly toward the future.

2. PhotoScape

This is also a highly feature-rich free application that gets going with user donations. PhotoScape has top tabs like Viewer, Editor, Batch Editor, etc., and each has its own advanced functions. The viewer gives you thumbnail views of the photos, and they are arranged in folders visible on the side.

PhotoScape for Windows

The editor is powerful with a number of features. Image resizing, brightness and contrast adjustments, backlight correction, adding text balloons, cropping, red eye removal, etc., are only a few of the available features. Another great option in PhotoScape is the capability to combine multiple photos and create a movie in the popular Animated GIF format. There is also a Splitter that can cut a photo into a number of pieces.

3. Paint.NET

In fact, this application should be marketed as as the default domain belongs to a specialty coating business. Paint.NET became one of the top hundred applications as reviewed by PC World in 2007. It’s an impressive free application just like the ones above with loads of features. It also generates revenue from user submitted donations rather than through a commercial version.

Although it sounds like an online application, it’s not. You can download the application to a Windows PC that has Microsoft .NET framework 3.5 SP1. The versions from Windows XPService Pack 1 are supported by this application.

Paint.NET (Image credit :


is a very fast photo editor with lots of features. You can blur and sharpen images, apply other styling to them including noise, distortion, embossing, etc., and you can use the advanced 3D rotation/zoom feature to generate tilted objects on your image. It has powerful drawing tools to create basic patterns, curves, and shapes. It has also got the selection tool known as Magic Wand just like the one found in Photoshop.

4. FotoFlexer

This is an online photo retouching tool with many features as offered by offline software. The software however, doesn’t give you any painting options. You can upload image files from your computer or get an image from a URL to start editing it.


One of the disadvantages is that it gives support for only jpg and png formats to save the file. However, you can save a file to social media sites like Facebook, Flickr, MySpace, Picasa, Photobucket, etc. The array of effects available includes blurring, sharpening, red eye removal, pixelation, posterize, various distortions, etc. It could be regarded as a replacement for a desktop photo editing application.

5. Pixlr


is also an online image editing program. As soon as you open it, you will get an interface similar to an offline image editor. The clean interface makes it appealing to use this app. The tools given are almost as diverse as given by the GIMP or any other program we saw earlier, but it’s good for only simple image creation and basic editing. The painting tools, brush, pencil, sharpen tool, smudge tool, sponge tool, etc., are similar to the ones you find on Adobe Photoshop.


Besides these, layered editing is possible. Other image enhancement options include brightness, contrast, hue & saturation, red eye reduction, color balance, cropping, inversion, sepia, posterize, pixellation, vignette, etc.

The interface loads faster and works well on all popular browsers.

6. Pixia & Phierha

This is a set of two applications available for download for the Windows versions since XP. This software was developed by the Japanese and they have a website set up for future feature requests and support.


Looking through some of the images, I feel the software package is very powerful. However, the user interface may come as a disappointment for many. It was developed at first to support artists in the anime and manga genre. Since it’s primarily a Japanese product, it differs in user interface and tools available in many respects. This may make the software less favorable in the US market.

7. Lunapic

This is another online image editing program that has painting options as well. Sadly enough this is not AJAX or HTML 5 based, and that makes the application rather slow to work with. However, the features available are plenty. Every click on the application reloads the page with the effect added, thus making it unusable on slow internet connections.


While painting with it, after each stroke, you have click ‘apply’ in order to have it actually placed in the canvass. This makes the application disappointing despite a huge array of image manipulation features.


Those were the seven major applications that have impressive photo editing capabilities. These applications could be regarded as great replacements for desktop and online apps that come with a price tag. I have taken care to eliminate the ones that come with free and pro editions as well. In fact, for image editing, you don’t have to rely upon an application that comes with a hefty price tag.