Microsoft Buys iView Multimedia in Possible iLife/Picasa Play [UPDATE]

Microsoft and iView Multimedia will announce Tuesday that a buyout of the cross-platform multimedia cataloging and management company. The purchase brings both consumer and professional-level digital media asset management products to Microsoft, products that could position Microsoft to more closely compete with Appleis iLife, as well as Googleis Picasa. In its announcement, iView Multimedia said that it will continue to develop the Mac versions of its software.

"The product that was born on the Mac will remain on the Mac as well as on the Windows operating system," said iView Multimedia founder Yan Calotychos in a statement. "All iView products will continue to be sold on the iView Web site and through our partners and channel. Bottom line: You all can continue to use and buy iView products knowing that they will be fully supported as Microsoft evolves the products in the future on both the Windows and Mac platforms."

iView Multimedia offers iView Media, iView MediaPro, and iView Catalog Reader, all for Mac and Windows. All three products are tightly related, centering around the management and viewing of digital image, sound, and movie libraries. The Pro version of iView Media supports more file formats and other features aimed at users organizing and working with large image libraries. The consumer version of iView Media streamlines those features into a one-window workspace.

iView Catalog Reader offers users the ability to distribute stand-alone catalogs from their iView Media library.

Microsoft has for decades built its product portfolio through acquisitions, but such niche-oriented products have seemingly flown under Big Redmondis radar in recent years. The success of Appleis iLife suite could be part of what sparked the deal, as Microsoft doesnit come close to offering the kind of comprehensive and integrated solution for doing such basic multimedia-related things as iLife does.

While the company does offer Windows Media Player for managing and playing music, Movie Maker for consumer-level video editing, and DVD burning (also in Movie Maker), the companyis image management offerings are slim (Microsoft Picture and Fax viewer). Should the company want to position itself with an iLife competitor, iView Media could help bridge that gap.

Apple has struck a chord in consumers with its iLife suite, with company executives having said in the past that iLife brings potential Mac customers into its fleet of retail stores, including many first-time Mac buyers.

At the same time, it may be Google in addition to or instead of Appleis iLife that has the company concerned, as the search engine giant is offering Picasa, a photo management tool for Windows (a Linux version has been announced to be in development, while no Mac version is in sight).

In its announcement, the company said that the Mac and Windows versions of its apps will continue to be sold online and through retailing partners.

Itis also possible that Microsoft could absorb the consumer version of iView Media into Windows, while leaving the pro and Mac versions on their own.

Update: The article has been updated with additional information pertaining to the deal.