Microsoft fully retires Photosynth with website shutdown

Microsoft has officially put the final nail in the coffin of Photosynth. Although Microsoft initially retired Photosynth's Windows Phone and iOS mobile apps all the way back in the middle of 2015, the service lived on via its home on the web. However, now that, too, has been shut down as of February 6.

Microsoft fully retires Photosynth with website shutdown

Photosynth, for those unfamiliar, was a unique panorama tool that let you stitch photos together to create a 360-degree photo. While the tool may not live on under the Photosynth name, Microsoft says (opens in new tab) that bits of the Photosynth code live on in other Microsoft products.

If you still had photos living on the service, then you won't be able to retrieve them any longer. Microsoft says that it won't be keeping a copy of them going forward, as each photo is owned by Photosynth's users and Microsoft only had a license to use them while the service remained running.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl

68 Comments
  • Sad but hope something better comes up.
  • I don't think it's that sad... Looks to me more like technology advancing, and things changing. This functionality is included on most devices, along with the factory OS, and needing to download an app for everything is becoming less, and less, important.. Remember, that was WP7's pitch😂. Besides, MS's idea of a less app centric computing environment is what we're all backing (and for the sake of Windows becoming relevant in mobile)... Nevertheless, apps are still necessary, no mistaking that, but over the years some store apps have simply become near irrelevant.
  • @Rodney
    Nope.
    Modern OS should be light, fast and open. In essense, app centric and less bloated (build in functionalities).
  • Then you tell me why app and more app centric W10M is so laggy compared to less app centric WP8/8.1? Though the exact sequence as per OS fluidity is WP7>WP8>WP8.1>>>WM10. I know there is a major kernel change between every major update. But has this really helped?
  • No. It hasn't helped in that sense, and I don't think it was supposed to, which is why I kinda disagree with a the guy above (ia_win) about the fact that an OS should be app centric so that it is "light".... I'm pretty sure MS idea, when they separated a lot of OS level apps in WinMo10, was so that they are more easily updatable on an individual basis, rather than having to go through an entire OS update process to change settings in the camera app. I'm not sure it has too much to do with performance, except being able to manage the performance of individual apps🤔🤔🤔🤔
  • Nope to your nope... "Built in functionality"... I didn't mean there should be no apps, and I don't mean built right into the OS. I should've made that more clear. Fact is that our camera app is just that. An app. What I really meant is pre loaded with this function, so yes the apps will be separated from the OS, but my point is that more, and more, users don't have to depend on the store for functionality, like Photosynth.
  • Ok, if that's advancing, what is available to take make those incredble panoramas now? I can't find anything as good...
  • I'm right there with you.  I don't think people really understood just how unique Photosynth was.  There isn't another tool like it.
  • I agree. Photosynth is unique, it's sad to know something that unique won't be making an appearance anytime soon.
  • Well, on W10M, you can hit your camera button, and take a panorama right there from the "built in" camera app... It doesn't have half the functionality of Photosynth, but who's to say MS's plans aren't to incorporate more code from Photosynth right into the stock camera app? It kinda touches on that i'm the article. I'd rather have everything built into the stock camera app, anyways.
  • For me it is work down the drain since early 2010, totalling about a full year.  The description as a panorama tool is incredibly simple and off. It has never been a released product either. Both Photosynth 1 and Photosynth 2 were Microsoft Research projects. The implicit promise of release has always been there and never came about. However, capturing spheres with the VR label is the in thing now. Probably some nice stuf coming up towards the end of the year or otherwise in in 2018.
  • Had to delete.....
  • I remember when the app for this site on WP7 created some buzz among users. #FunTimes
  • Those were the days.... Wish I wouldn't have did so much "marketing" Windows Phone to my friends, and family.. We did our part, and MS let us down,, left us looking stupid. Lol😂😂😂
  • Whoa. This is turning into a typical MS play: Develop something incredible, give little to no marketing so that the general population knows nothing about it, and then scrap it. I loved this app and everybody I showed it to thought the images were amazing. Are they still supporting ICE?
  • Agreed!  This was an awesome app!  I used it frequently!  What's funny I use to use my Nokia phones to take pictures all the time.  I remember this site having the weekly photo contest.  But as Nokia exited stage left I just haven't felt a need to use my phone to take creative photos anymore other than basic photos.  It's like all the joy has been sucked out of my Windows devices when it comes to taking photos.  Taking photos on a Windows Phone used to be highlighted and respected now it's like it's fallen off the face of the earth.  Oh well, heck with regular consumers and let's just focus on business/enterprise and I guess all will be good. :\
  • Gotta ask, you "used it frequently."  When was the last time you used it? For me, I never knew of this site. Looks like it would have been cool technology.
  • When I purchased my Lumia 810 back in 2012 this was one of the features on that device.  I used it when I visited local parks and museums and just any place in general.  I used it when showing off a room my wife designed in our home.  It was very cool and useful for me.  And the friends I showed them to thought it was very cool as well.  Truthfully at that time and even now even some WP users really didn't know what good stuff was built in.  They worried about Snapchat and gapless music.  Oh well, I suppose all of that gave Microsoft cover to remove just about every good nook and cranny out of Windows Phone. 
  • Seems like they were doing this before anyone else, now, just...dead?  "Microsoft says that bits of the Photosynth code live on in other Microsoft products"  Meaning what?  Unless they have another 360 panorama app, that doesn't mean much.  Do they?
  • Meaning if you have a Windows mobile phone It's a feature of the current stock camera app, as we speak. What device so you have?
  • It has panorama.  Is it a full circle panorama like photosynth?  I've never tried that, I assumed it was just a standard one.  I was running a Lumia 640 (probably couldn't handle that anyway), and I just got my Lumia 950 yesterday.
  • Sadly the panorama function in the camera App is just standard and can't even do a 360 and certainly not a sphere and only works in portrait mode which makes it kind of useless. :'(
  • And I just tried it (got busy), no 3D.  Will only do about 180 degrees horizontally.
  • Yeah, it doesn't have 3D... I'm just saying that MS may be planning make this functionality native..
  • That's not really how I interepreted what you originally said.  Maybe the "stitching" code from Photosynth is part of the app, but that's not something new to phone cameras, and certainly not a sphere, so I wouldn't say Photosynth "lives on" in the camera app.  Perhaps they will go native with it, though I'd recommend a separate app, to keep from bogging down the already tempermental camera and photos apps.
  • No, it doesn't support 360, just standard panorama view. It works okay, but not as well as their Photosynth app. Hopefully, they will add those features to the current camera app. However, we will likely be waiting a while for it, if they do it at all.
  • They have to bring 360 deg feature in the Camera besides the Panorama or they'd just shut it down forever like how they did to the Radio app.
  • Hopefully they release an updated app to tie in with the creators update, or tie it into the camera ap.  Although that can be buggy without the added stress of a "sphere" function.  With the radio app, they probably decided not to bother with it, since there are 3rd party apps in the store for it.  One less thing for them deal with, one more person they could probably lay off. Personally, I'm actually far more interested in the 3D "scanning" app.  I could actually use that quite often.
  • Try 123D Catch on W10M from Autodesk.
  • Thanks for the tip, I'll check that out.  I actually use Inventor, so being Autodesk, it should work pretty good.
  • Is that part of Autodesk 360?  I couldn't find anything by that name on the Store
  • https : // www . microsoft . com / en-us / store / p / 123d-catch / 9nblggh34rxk
  • I was able to find a link on the store through google search (ironic), and sent myself the link.  It says that it's "currently not available".  So that sucks...
  • No, actually I have it in my phone. Named '123D Catch' plainly and what more, it works very well.
  • yeah, I've tried every which way, won't let me.  Just says currently unavailable.  Hopefully they're revamping it, but it may be getting killed off.  I'll try emailing them about it
  • Related tip, for anyone who forgot to export their content (like me): Articles from WC, the News app, Edge, etc, can be shared to Cortana to quickly add a reminder with the article linked. Doesn't help me now, but wish I'd thought to do it when WC first mentioned the site was shutting down.
  • First you need to have Cortana, which is not enabled in my country yet 😠
  • I heard a funeral dirge playing softly in the distance, as I read this.
  • One must learn from Microsoft how a great app/feature/device/company etc can be destroyed....
  • But as per Gartner n wc u dont need this app. Bots will do this job :P / S
  • They are certainly masters in this
  • I remember once trying to use this service. I gave up at the end, as nothing seemed to work.
  • So is there any 360 panorama app in the store now? The panorama in the camera app doesn't do that...
  • This was the only other true great app(besides the Lumia camera app along with Smart sequence) I used to show my lagdroid friends and make joke of them. After the discontinuation we became the true joke for them.
    Thanks Microsoft for perfectly ruining the best Smartphone experience.
  • Microsoft is the global benchmark in ruining each and every great things and turned into a garbage.
  • Managed to reinstall the app on my 1520, don't know how but it worked somehow. Still use it today 😁
  • Ops. Sorry man, I just reported your comment by mistake, I meant to press VOTE UP.... Hope you don't get into trouble.  I want to know how you did it and if it is still working right now!
  • They gave a 360 degrees still camera to people before 360 was even a thing. With the coming of Windows VR it would be a shame if they didn't evolve this app into a proper product
  • Anything that doesn't have use in enterprise will be killed
  • Facebook has only recently added 360 images. Why wasn't Photosynth a thing years ago. Every couple of months I get the feeling of being abandoned by Microsoft and this is the cause this month. I wish Microsoft never bought Nokia.
  • Got to wonder how much life is left in so.cl
  • This was one of my favorite MS-exclusive apps. I don't understand why they had to kill it. Unlike many other apps, this was actually something that I, and many of you used. That's really a shame.
  • Project spark, photosynth, moviecreator bèta, Microsoft health Original, i used them All frequently. At the moment I hesitate before starting to use a Microsoft app, you never know if you're in a sinking ship
  • *edit* it's still working on my Nokia 1020 8.1 with some pics still avaiable
  • Photosynth was not just a 360 panorama app.  It was much, much more.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photosynth
  • p.s. Now that I think about it, I'm kind of pissed that WC couldn't write this up a few days ago as a friendly reminder so we could get our synths out of the service.
  • Ya mentioned it a month ago. Got its old news on twitter response.
  • They were busy researching how change fonts on word.
  • I used it couple times on WP7. But never agian since I moved to Android.
  • It hurts I put so much effort into making these. :'(
  • I don't get this at all...wouldn't this work great for roughly made VR experiences?
  • I can't believe they actually retired their iOS app. Windows phone I understand, but iOS or Android?!
  • Wow I forgot all about this. But panoramas are done well enough on Windows Camera as it is. I'm sure Microsofts ventures in Photosynth contributed quite a bit to that.
  • Well if you guys have been able to install Lumia panorama and run it in a L950xl like I have you would cringe at the amazing quality that the retired app has in comparison with the function in the camera app.
    Ms is retiring things that should have developed further. The promise of Photosynth was that with better devices (faster processors) and better motion sensors the app would turn photography as we know it into 360 deg. Views. It turns out the app Got caught in the Nadella ascent to power and his will to divest from mobile. Well done! If people knew of this product they would have used it... Well, like in the middle ages it will take another renaissance to recover lost jewels... Sad indeed. By the way you can still s download the .xaml of the app from the web 😋
  • So will settle for bits of code that live on in other products.
  • Not sure if it's mentioned anywhere. Photosynth website say you have to download a viewer, but the Windows Photo app natively supports .paro or the Photosynth file format. Its navigation is far superior to the website! I have downloaded all my synths and they work even better now. It's still early days for 360 spherical photos. Let's see if anyone can make it so seamless, noob will want to use it.
  • Just read through some of the comments, Photosynth is like QuickTime VR from years ago or Facebook 360 now. The technology is years ahead of the competition. Unfortunately, it's is also SUPER CPU intensive. Which is why I always upload my photos using the PhotoSynth app for Microsoft to stitch with their servers. The app on WP7 and IOS are a joke compared to what the website can do. Back then, I would carefully snap 38mpix photos on my Lumia 1020 and upload to Photosynth to stitch full 360 or spherical 360. The CPU on a smartphone simply don't have the processing power to handle the stitching & perspective warping. The process of taking 30-40 photos in a particular pattern is what put off most potential users. The apps themselves, besides the low resolutions, were also not so great in tracking using the accelerometer so you get very rough stitching at the edges when you overlap the photos. This is why the apps were retired early. They just weren't very good. Lastly, I don't believe Photosynth tech was used in the Panorama mode in Windows Camera, it's too CPU intensive. I believe that tech went to the Hololens environmental mapping. Will we see a revival of 360 panorama? Not anytime soon. For one, it's a lot of effort to capture panorama in 3D using normal camera, second, it's impossible to print the Pano to share with grandma. ;)