Microsoft ICE (Image Composite Editor) is a free software that stitches multiple photos together to create panoramas and 360-degree images. All you need to do is install the software, open it up, then drop your images into the window and ICE does all the work. After a few seconds of “solving the puzzle” you’ll have a nearly, if not completely seamless panoramic available to export in a wide range of file types.
Having up until now dealt with AutoStitch, the often-frustrating stitching software bundled with most Canon cameras, I nearly gave up on shooting for panoramics all together. (Ironically, one commenter on Lifehacker noticed that Matthew Brown, the original creator of AutoStitch, was once on the team at Microsoft Research’s Interactive Visual Media Group that developed ICE.)
I was skeptical about Microsoft ICE, until I started throwing all the panoramics I could at it, as it defiantly spewed back amazing results with little effort on my part. For instance, the NASCAR panoramic above is one of many I’ve taken over the years, with many straight lines on the track and thousands of people in the stands, I’m still having trouble spotting any noticable seams from the output provided by ICE.
Honestly, this is the first program in a long time that I’ve come away saying “Wow!” Even as a predominate PC user, I’d have to say that Microsoft surprised me with this one. Microsoft ICE does one thing, does it extremely well and all without any useless features or confusing bloat. All software should be so streamlined. Pssst! Hey, Microsoft! More stuff like this, please!
Microsoft ICE works on Windows XP, Vista and 7 with a minimum of .NET Framework 2.0 installed.
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