Microsoft Promoting – New Image Source

Posted on 5/12/2015 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

The launch of Windows 10 later this year could dramatically change the way people find pictures. On April 29th during the annual Microstock Build Developers Conference in San Francisco Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella described how Microsoft intends to (1) Build the Intelligent Cloud, (2) Reinvent productivity and business process and (3) Create more personal computing.

In the 2hr 50m keynote ( Nadella laid out the vision, but at about 1h 19min he brought on Rob Lefferts, Director Program Management for Office into the discussion. Lefferts described a development that should be of great, although not necessarily welcome, interest to stock photo distributors and photographers hoping to earn a living producing stock pictures in the future.

Lefferts demonstrated a new tool in the Office 10 family called Sway. He said, “This is a tool for interactive storytelling that runs great on the web and renders beautifully mobily and we’ve integrated a set of services that make it easy for me to pull in content.” Among the sources for photography via Sway are: OneDrive, OneNote, Facebook, Flickr, Bing,, YouTube, Twitter and other sources.

Lefferts focused on, saying that the company is building a “source of high quality professional photographs” … that “lets (the user) search through the photos in the service and paste them directly within powerpoint.”

PicHit.Me images will be FREE to users who are willing to wait 24 hours for the image to be available for download. PREMIUM users can get images instantly if they subscribe for $9.99 per month ($109.00 per year). Subscriptions allow them to download an unlimited number of photos. (See FAQ .)

How Exactly Does PicHit Work?

It’s very unclear. They give a link for asking questions, but I asked mine a week ago and still haven’t received an answer.

PicHit says they have 50 million photos, but after doing a few searches for popular photos it doesn’t appear there are anywhere near that number. I found 44 images for the keyword “Office,” 68 for “Family” and 74 of “New York.” In searching for “Beach” I found over 400, but many of the images in all cases seemed to be marginally unrelated to the keyword, at best. A huge percentage of the images found are credited to “A. Member” making me think that most of the images so far are from an inhouse producer.

It appears PicHit will depend primarily on social media crowdsourcing for their images. There doesn’t appear to be any editing or reviewing before images are accepted. My guess is they have just getting started in collecting images despite their claim of lots of images. However, given the number of people who are willing to post anything and everything when there is a promise of a little money it may not take them that long to reach 50 million. (Twenty20, a competitor, launched to the public in late February currently has more than 250,000 photographers in its database and 45 million photos in its library.)  The big question is how useful images acquired in this manner will be.

Bing and Flickr

It should also be noted that Bing and Flickr are among the list of sources in Sway. This, of course, raises other interesting questions. Is this another approach to encouraging Bing user to use images found on Bing after their disastrous launch of the Bing Image Widget last August? Is their arrangement with Flickr to only show Creative Commons images, or will they search the entire Flickr site and will it be up to the user to determine if the image needs to be licensed?

Also on the Sway list were “Other Sources” that appear to be user defined. Will users be able to choose Getty Images or Shutterstock and include them in their personal lists? Will the user then be able to search simultaneously across several sources (say, Getty, Shutterstock and Flickr) or will they have to search each source separately? And, if this will be possible how do you get access to the API that would allow your collection to be one that is searchable?

Photographer Compensation says they will pay 60% of the money collected from subscriptions to the photographers. That sounds great!

But the devil is in the details. They won’t know how many images are downloaded by any subscriber until the subscription is used up. Thus, no image will have real value at the moment of download, only when the total number of downloads for each subscription can be calculated. That’s why Shutterstock, and other subscription services, pay a flat fee per download.

Setting this problem aside, has a very unique way of paying out royalties. 20% of the value of the download is credited to the photographer’s account when one of the photographer’s images is used. Thus, if a subscriber pays $9.99 for a month’s account and downloads 10 images each images is worth $1.00 and $0.20 is credited to the account of each photographer whose image was used. If the subscriber downloaded more than 10 images, less than $0.20 would be credited to the photographer’s account.

The remaining 40% goes into a pool that is paid out to “active” photographers based on the number of new images they contribute each month. If a photographer contributes fewer than 5 images in any given month he becomes inactive and receives no share of this 40%. If one photographer contributes 100 images in a given month and another contributes 5, the one who contributed 100 will receive a proportional share of this pool of money that is 20 times larger than the photographer who contributed only 5 images. It appears this money is distributed entirely on the basis of number of images contributed in a given month, and has no relation whatsoever to the number of images actually downloaded. This strategy may help to quickly build a large collection, but a lot of it may be similars and trash.

What Rights Are Creators Giving Away

“By uploading Photos and other Content to the Service, You grant to every User a license to access such Content via the Service and to use, publish, distribute, modify, adapt, publicly perform and publicly display such Content as permitted by the functions of the Service and these Terms of Use.” Those considering supplying images should read this 6,179 word document, particularly item 6 “Licenses And Permitted Use Of Photos” and item 7 “Missions.” The license is royalty-free, worldwide and irrevocable unless otherwise explicitly stated. is a Swedish company located at Södra Kyrkogatan 3, 621 56 Visby, Sweden and can be contacted via email at: uryyb@cvpuvg.zr

Why Care

In it’s present form this organization doesn’t seem to be much of a threat to professional photographers, but given that it will become an integral part of Microsoft Office 10, and Microsoft will be promoting it heavily, it could become a go to resource for many customers if it has any decent images to offer.

Microsoft predicts that within 2 to 3 years there will be 1 billion devices using Windows 10.

Copyright © 2015 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


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