Photosynth for Linux?

First a video:

This is the demonstration video of Photo Tourism which was later transformed into Microsoft Photosynth (Wikipedia). Now, you’ll find it difficult to disagree with me when I say this is a great product. It just has that “cool factor”.

However, the Photosynth website says at the system requirements: Only Windows XP SP2 and Windows Vista RC1 or later are supported at this time. However, the video I showed above clearly shows it running on Linux (take a look at the titlebar of the web browser or the “add annotation dialog”). This could mean two things:

  1. Microsoft deliberately decided not to support Linux
  2. Microsoft may still want to make this available for Linux

I of course hope it is the latter, however, I am inclined to think the former is more likely. Four of the five members of the team worked at the University of Washington and might have worked on this project on Linux. However, now that the project website is at Microsoft’s website and it has been renamed to Microsoft Photosynth, I fear Microsoft did not want it to run on Linux. And obviously, the new demo videos do not show it running on Linux… What a terrible waste 😦 And if you go a little further, imagine how great it would’ve been if this was an open source project!

On the other hand, I have no knowledge at all about the project’s history or Microsoft’s decision, so this post might be completely ridiculous. In that case, I’m terribly sorry to ruin this blog’s reputation at the third post already…. If you know the details, please tell me in the comments to this post. Thanks!

15 Responses to “Photosynth for Linux?”

  1. 1 snowjunkie 5 March 2007 at 2:12 pm

    It’s a bit small to see the titlebars properly, but this is one amazing application nonetheless.

  2. 2 Marsolin 5 March 2007 at 3:32 pm

    That’s some very impressive software. It’s too bad it’s not open source. I’d love to see what ideas people would come up with to build off it.


  3. 3 Vincent 5 March 2007 at 3:50 pm

    @snowjunkie – If you view one of the official videos you can see them properly:

    Short video:×
    Long video:

  4. 4 Kevin 10 March 2007 at 1:47 am

    Hi. I worked on this project. The University of Washington’s contribution to the project (what you see at was developed on linux. The online demo app was programmed on windows and os x using Java.

  5. 5 Keith Worrell 7 June 2007 at 9:25 pm

    If you look at the individual packages necessary to run M$ demo, you can see the M$ Visual C++ library. Looking at the demo here versus the interactive one on M$ website, the features are very different. M$ has a lot of stuff missing or dumbed down which leads me to believe that the demo is a severely hacked version of the software for demonstration purposes only, and not the real program that began its life as a penguin.

    Unfortunately, this wouldn’t be the first time M$ hacked apart a program to make a half demo and ended up selling it as the “real deal”. Too bad FSF couldn’t have gotten in there first to make a counter offer.

  6. 6 Anubis 9 June 2007 at 2:45 pm

    Kevin :

    Who wowns the ‘rights’ to this technology ? Can it be open sourced ? If so lets do it. Codehaus ?

  7. 7 Vincent 9 June 2007 at 6:48 pm

    Anubis, I would not count on this technology to be open sourced, as it is now in the hands of Microsoft. And even if it is, it’d be under such a restrictive license that it probably won’t be made to work under Linux.

    Plus, I doubt Kevin is still following these comments, you’d have to visit his personal site I guess 😉
    Now that I mention it – you don’t probably follow it either 😛

  8. 8 nex 20 July 2007 at 10:20 am

    It’s still a research project. If they were already concentrating on making it cross-platform, they wouldn’t be doing as much actual research. If they hadn’t ported it over to Windows, Microsoft would be rightfully criticized for not eating their own dog food. I don’t expect this to be available for non-Windows platforms any time soon, but that doesn’t matter much. A much better outcome would be if these researchers just published their findings (or some clever folks reversed engineered their tech) and a project with a proper OSS licence was made out of that.

  9. 9 Kevin 13 March 2008 at 5:56 pm

    Anubis: I believe the rights are owned by the University of Washington. Microsoft just licensed the project. I doubt it will be open sourced, though it might not be that hard to build an open source version from scratch. The reconstruction methods used for the core system are not new.

  10. 10 djupp 22 August 2008 at 7:06 pm

    Did I see that right, did they really search for non-commercial/non-derivative pics to do this???
    “No Derivative Works. You may not alter, transform, or build upon this work.”
    it is so easy.. darn microsoft, I can’t believe they do this in a public video…… somebody should probably sue them. Any license lawyers around?

  11. 12 Vincent 17 January 2009 at 6:25 pm

    That’s very nice, thanks for notifying us Jonathan! And under the GNU GPL as well (though no information on which version it’s licensed under).

  12. 13 David Roberts 3 February 2009 at 11:19 am

    I’ve created an opensource tool which provides 3D visualization of the output produced by Bundler (see Jonathan’s comment). The homepage is (screencast included on the page). It’s nowhere near as featureful as Photosynth, but it’s a start.

  13. 14 Vincent 3 February 2009 at 4:39 pm

    David, that’s very nice indeed!

  1. 1 Microsoft Grabs Corss-platform Application, Makes it Windows-only? Trackback on 26 February 2009 at 7:05 am
Comments are currently closed.


%d bloggers like this: