Windows Vista Slideshow

Ever wonder what hides behind the candy-like blue button? My name is Karen Wong, and I’m a Program Manager on the Windows Vista Photo Gallery. My team created the experience behind this blue button – the Windows Vista Slide Show. This is the place to enjoy your photos and videos in their full-screen glory; or to set them against a background that suits the occasion.

So what are some of the big changes from the XP Slide Show?  First off, the Vista slideshow can play photos AND videos.  Previously in XP, it was not possible to combine photos and videos in a single Slide Show. If you’re like me, you’ll take a couple of short clips in addition to your larger set of photos at any given event. Now there’s a one-stop shop to viewing everything you uploaded.

Next, we’ve created a set of ‘themes’ that provide different ways for you to enjoy your photos.  The themes are designed to vary in the number of photos/videos you see on screen, the look-and-feel of the background; as well, we’ve spiced some themes up to include some new animation effects.

We expect our users to have a wide variety of photos from a diverse range of events, activities, and special occasions. Our themes try to address this broad range of subject matter, as we know that different photos can be complimented with the right ‘mood’ in a theme. 

Themes are organized in the slideshow menu in groups: the top 3 groups display photos/videos at full-screen. The bottom group displays photos/videos in a single or multi-layout format, with themed backgrounds. Some of the themes in the last group also include the new animated effects. 

But not too fast. Although we’re jazzed about these new themes, we still love the simplicity of the XP slideshow.  So guess what?  We kept it in. You’ll find the XP slideshow under the ‘Classic’ theme – it plays photos only, with no fancy backgrounds or effects.

One caveat: cool Slide Shows need the right hardware.  You’ll need a minimum level of graphics support (i.e. video card) to get the new and improved Slide Show experience. The quickest way to find out whether you’re ‘Slide Show Ready’ is to check your Windows Experience Index (Start Menu | Computer | System Properties). On par with the requirements to run Aero Glass, you’ll need a ‘Graphics’ score of at least 3.0. 

Power User
If your graphics score isn’t at least 3.0, you can still get the full set of themes (with the Premium or Ultimate SKU) by setting a regkey. Keep in mind that there are no guarantees that they will run well!

Here is the info you need to set the regkey:
Key path is HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows Photo Gallery\SlideShow.
Type = DWORD Value
Name = WinSATScore
Value = 300

– Karen Wong, Program Manager

Comments (18)

  1. Have you checked out the Windows Photo Gallery blog yet? Karen Wong, Program Manager of the WPG Team,…

  2. SeanMcLeod says:

    I have a graphics score of 5.9 with an nVidia GeForce 6800GT 256MB of video RAM and I noticed that when I choose some of the newer themes like Travel the slideshow appears to drop my LCD’s resolution.

    Now admittedly I’m running at a fairly high resolution of 1920×1200 but I thought given the graphics score and 256MB of video RAM that there wouldn’t be a need to drop the resolution.


  3. KarenW says:

    Hi Sean – in our Beta 2 builds, we were conservative with the resolutions we played at to ensure great performance.  In our latest (RC1) build, a card with a score greater than 5 in both Graphics and Gaming scores will play slideshow at your native resolution.  Your graphics score is greater than 5, hence if your gaming score is also greater than 5, you should see slideshow at 1920×1200.  

  4. SeanMcLeod says:

    Hi. I have a Gaming score of 5.1 and am running build 5472. So I guess build 5472 isn’t new enough then?


  5. stealfrommaclosers says:

    Here’s a thought on this windows vista thing in general. Could you possibly steal any more ideas from os 10 on a mac. I’m wondering when the next version of windows after this one will be out…maybe a few years after Apple revolutionizes the user experience again? It should be callled Windows Vista: You can see what Apple is doing from here.

  6. MichaelGiagnocavo says:

    Please allow the slideshow to filter on rating, and perhaps other fields. For each subject, I might have 5 to 20 exposures, and only a few will be rated 2 or more stars. That’d definately make slideshows much more interesting, since people wouldn’t have to sit through tons of similar but not-as-nice photos.

  7. KarenW says:

    Hi Sean – What is your Graphics Score?  That, in addition to your Gaming score needs to be higher than 5 to get slideshow playback at your native resolution.  But don’t worry, if your score is below that you can use a regkey override.  In the blog I talk about setting the WinSATScore to 300 to get the rich themes.  If you set that to 500 (simulates the Windows Experience Index of 5 for both Graphics and Gaming), you’ll get slideshow playback at native resolution.  Keep in mind that by doing so, you may not have the best performance for all themes.  But check it out, as your card may just be at the cusp of being able to play well at 19×12.  If the lowest of your Graphics and Gaming scores are below 5, your slideshow is playing at 16×12.

    Also, the ‘Classic’ theme will always play at your native resolution, regardless of your Windows Experience Index scores.

  8. bmw68 says:

    Will Vista slideshow be available via Media Center Extender IE XBOX 360?

    I love them I think the Photo Album is on of the best ways to display Pics I have ever seen!!



  9. mcm says:

    Is it possible to somehow show the captions for the photos during a slideshow?

  10. KarenW says:

    MichaelGiagnocavo – thanks for your feedback, we will definitely consider this for future updates/releases.

  11. KarenW says:

    Brian/bmw68 – Unfortunately, Vista slideshow will not be available via Media Center Extender.  Thank you for your feedback on slideshow, we’re glad you’re enjoying it!

  12. KarenW says:

    mcm – Unfortunately there is no way to show captions for photos during a slideshow.  We are, however, considering this for future updates/releases.  Thanks for your feedback!

  13. danteuk says:

    Is there a reason for the slideshow to run pooly and at low resolution on a machine that can play Quake4 and DoomIII ?


    Why does sideslow have to drop to 640×480 when I can play DoomIII at 1024×768?

    How is it possible to code a simple slideshow, then say it requires DX9 level hardware ( which I have ) and then still have it run poorly?

    My GFX score is only 3.6 ( GFX5900 128mb )

    As a programmer with OpenGL experience I think next time I have a free afternoon I’ll knock up a quick slideshow program and mail it to you!

  14. Susan Farmer says:

    Way cool.  I got my Vista machine Sunday Morning!  So far I like it!  Are there screen shots and/or descriptions of what the various slide show themes look like?  That would make it easier to pick one.  🙂

    I see the RSS button at the top, do you know if this forum has a LiveJournal feed?

    All my online photos are scanned film images and mostly all Wildflowers (and copyright ….) with *very* simple HTML …

  15. Hexaae says:

    I really like this new program idea in Win Vista…

    But I’m having troubles with the folder explorer and the ‘Slideshow’ button that stopped working the other day 🙁 It does simply nothing now apart busy pointer for some seconds. ‘Till the other day I could see photo and videos (Vista Hime Basic, score 3.0 in the gfx area) but now what happened? Suggestions to reset the Registry in the correct way or any other help to re-enable it from ‘Slideshow’ button?

    Running the program apart from menus give no probs at all instead…

    Ciao from Italy!

  16. las6 says:

    I was wondering if there is any way to control the quality of the compressed jpeg’s that the Slideshow seems to be using internally.

    The classic mode itself looks fine, but any of the other modes produces kinda low-res, blurry and compressed looking results. Which isn’t nice, considering that the images themselves sure have plenty of information (10mp).

    While I understand the importance of keeping it running smoothly, it would be nice to get the quality to the level of the classic mode.

  17. las6 says:

    Oh and for the record, my experience scores for graphics are 5.9&5.8 (7900 GS) and my current desktop resolution is 1600×1200. Just in case you were wondering.

  18. RayHK says:


    I am new to Window Vista.

    The windows experience index of my display card is 4.

    When my computer was set up, the photo slideshow worked ok but the Aero did not.

    When I selected the theme of Window Vista (I do not know which theme was used when I selected the Window Vista theme), the photo slideshow did not work but the AERO worked fine.

    When I selected the theme of Window Classic, the problem of photo slideshow persisted.

    The photo slideshow works fine in Media Centre.

    Could anyone please help! Thanks