For years many people wondered why Microsoft's omnipotence hadn't stretched to image editing software. Picture It answered that question but proved something of a mixed bag.
The Premium edition that we look at here is the entry-level product. Silver, Gold and Platinum versions sit above this and offer ever-increasing arsenals of templates and artwork along with web publishing and DTP tools.
Interface-wise Picture It presents a clean and workmanlike screen with options ranged along the left of the screen (some featuring nested sub-options) and a gallery of images to the right. This leaves the greater part of the screen available for the working image.
In what we might ascribe as typical Microsoft style the approach the program has adopted tends to buck the trend of other image editors. Whereas elsewhere this has worked well for the company (who have tended to set the standard to which others ultimately concur) much of the functionality proves difficult.
For example effects filters can be selected from thumbnails views (a la PhotoImpact). You then set any appropriate tool options and finally make a selection. Though this methodology works it is not intuitive and doesn't really aid workflow. There is also, dare we mention it, a degree of arrogance in the approach that obliges you to adopt the program's methods and allows no alternatives.
The program scores however in its painting tools that offer a range of natural media effects that are slickly implemented. There's also a good selection of edge effects to help finish an image.
Picture It is a competent image editor that does everything expected of it adequately, but rarely shines. It is more likely to be appreciated by those familiar with the Microsoft Office environment and wanting an imaging tool from the same family. For the same money there are better-specified and better performing solutions. This is not a bad program - it just doesn't inspire. And inspiration is what digital imaging - for the most part - is all about.
If your needs are focused on images for desktop publishing this product is fine, otherwise look elsewhere.
OVERALL RATING: 5/10
These figures are based on our experience of the respective programs and do not necessarily agree with the manufacturers' recommendations.
Pentium 166, 64 MB RAM
Windows 95 or later