FujiFilm to provide XP digital photo printing service

Microsoft Corp. has picked Fuji Photo Film Co. Ltd. to provide online digital photography printing services for users of the Windows XP operating system, a spokeswoman for Microsoft said Friday.

The Online Printing Wizard (OPW) software, one of the digital photography features included in the consumer version of Microsoft's new operating system, will allow users to order photo prints produced from their digital images. By clicking on OPW, users will have direct online access to professional photo printing services such as Fuji's, and will be able to send digital images to them.

Microsoft is also in talks with Eastman Kodak Co. about providing service for the U.S. version of the software, according to the spokeswoman Aki Araki.

In Japan, the OPW service is expected to start in mid-November, alongside the launch of Windows XP, said Araki. Although Fuji Photo Film is the only company providing service for the first edition of the Japanese version of OPW, other vendors are likely to join for future editions, according to Chisato Yoshizawa, a spokeswoman for Fuji Photo Film.

Using OPW, digital images sent via the Internet by customers are processed and printed on photo-quality printing paper at Fuji Photo Film's labs. A customer is likely to receive processed prints via mail or to pick them up at one of Fuji Photo Film's more than 10,000 stores nationwide, said Araki. The price for prints has not yet been determined.

Microsoft is also planning to expand other digital photography functions in Windows XP. The new Photo Wizard will make it easier to download images from a camera or a scanner, and the My Pictures folder will be redesigned for handier previews and easier image compressing, so that users can send images via the Internet faster.

Microsoft has already taken its first steps in the area. In the U.S., the company started a similar photo printing service with Fuji Photo Film via its MSN Web site in November 2000. In Japan, the online photo printing service will also be offered on Microsoft's MSN Japan Web site.

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