People who buy Macs know that a new computer ships with some of the most elegant consumer applications available today. Collectively known as iLife, the built-in Apple applications include iMovie for creating and editing movies, iDVD for creating and burning DVDs, and iPhoto for managing and editing pictures.
The consistent excellence of iLife drives Microsoft absolutely batty. It’s no surprise that Vista includes Microsoft knock-offs of some of the coolest programs in iLife. Yet it’s still pretty embarrassing that Linux users can’t expect anything even close to the cheap copies that Microsoft includes in Vista.
Windows Photo Gallery lets you view your pictures individually or in slide shows, and allows you to edit them with some simple tools like red-eye removal and cropping. To print your photos, use one of the ubiquitous wizards.
Linux users have various options available, such as Digicam for KDE and gThumb for GNOME, but those, to be charitable, need lots of work. It says something when the best photo management tool for Linux is easily Picasa, a Windows-based program that runs using WINE. Under those conditions, Windows Photo Gallery comes across like a triumph.
Windows Movie Maker is better than it used to be, but it’s still pretty weak, especially when compared to Apple’s iMovie. You can import video and audio, re-order scenes, insert some amateurish transitions, and then save the resulting masterpiece as a Windows-centric WMV or AVI file.
But at least the program works, anemic though it may be. What do Linux users have? Nothing that’s particularly easy to use, or consistently installed across most common Linux distros. Yes, there are some strong contenders, but nothing stands out at this time.
Windows DVD Maker takes the creations turned out by Windows Movie Maker and transfers them to DVD. Here Linux has a better program (K3b, of course!), but since there isn’t a great movie editor that could be used to first prepare the movies that would be burned with K3b, it doesn’t quite matter. Vista provides tools that enable the amateur sitting at home to create a movie and then burn the results on a disc that can be played on the family’s DVD player, and Linux doesn’t have anything that works together that well. Like it or not, Vista has the edge here (although Mac OS X has ‘em both beat).