A year or so back, Microsoft decided to develop applications that made use of Microsoft’s Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) and the new .Net Framework 3.0. So far, Microsoft seems to have developed only two such applications, the first being the New York Times Reader (see screenshots here) and the second, Microsoft Codename Max. A friend of mine told me about Max in October 2005. At that time it was simply a photo-sharing tool. I saw screenshots and description on the web and that was all. I didn’t think it would be useful since in order to share photos with someone, the other person would need to download the software too. In November or December 2005, Microsoft added a news reader to Max. I downloaded it this time, but uninstalled it after a couple of days. The software was way too heavy for my 700 MHz Pentium III Dell Laptop with 512MB Ram. Finally, this year, Microsoft added the ability to add RSS feeds to Max. Since most bloggers were raving about how gorgeous it was, I decided to download it and give it a try. This time I was downloading it on a faster 1.6 GHz AMD Turion Laptop with 512MB Ram.
As mentioned earlier, Max is a photo-sharing tool and an RSS reader. Now, I have no idea why one would need both these features in one piece of software. In this review, I’ll examine the features of Max.
The software installation process is painfully slow. It takes 20 – 30 minutes (because the .NET framework has to be installed too) and the computer needs to be rebooted at the end of it. I guess things will improve with Vista. As of now, the software is not compatible with Vista, though.
The photo sharing features are decent.
One can make some cool looking albums in 2-D and 3-D view, but there is no provision to publish it to the web. As mentioned above, you can share photos only with people who have this software installed. On the whole, I don’t see this as a very useful feature.
The news/ RSS reader, on the other hand, though rudimentary, is gorgeous. Adding a feed is simple – simply click on “Add a feed” and enter the address. All feeds that you’ve added are visible on the left. Clicking on any of them brings up a nice view of the page, as shown below. Deleting feeds is also a simple two step process. However, several advanced options that are available in web-based feed readers, are not available in Max.
On the whole, Max makes great use of WPF but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to make this product useful.