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Monday, August 25, 2008

Crush of Users Puts Photosynth Offline

Microsoft's new digital photo-sharing site spent most of its first day offline as its servers strained to handle a flood of traffic.

The site, called Photosynth, stitches together a set of related digital photos into a presentation that allows viewers to zoom and pan across the scene.

To create and view synths, you must download a free software application to your Windows PC.

Microsoft employees and partners, including National Geographic, had been tinkering with a private beta version of the technology. Microsoft was set to open Photosynth to the public late Wednesday, but on Thursday morning, the working site had already been replaced by a page that displayed an apology.

"The Photosynth site is a little overwhelmed just now" read a message on the site. By 7 p.m. ET, Microsoft said the site was partly working again; visitors could view 3D "synths" but not upload new ones, with that capability expected to be turned on "shortly."

During a preview of the final product on Tuesday, David Gedye, a group manager for Microsoft's Live Labs, said the team had been beating on the site to simulate the rush of new users expected after launch. But when asked, he sounded less than confident that the site could withstand the pressure. "We're very nervous," he said during an interview.

Microsoft expects people to create synths to archive collections or show off how they've decorated their homes or gardens.

National Geographic photographers have created synths around Machu Picchu, Stonehenge, Yosemite, the Taj Mahal and other locations.

A note at the National Geographic website Thursday afternoon said that "due to overwhelming interest in Photosynth, Microsoft is having some difficulty with its servers."

From staff and wire reports
USA Today; August 22, 2008