Windows 8.1 Panorama Files

Windows 8.1 has a level of panorama creation and viewing built into it, in the (Metro Modern Windows Store App) Camera and Photos apps. Making a panorama on a suitable device – in my case, a Surface with its frankly awful camera – produces a .pano file, which can be viewed in the Photos app, and nothing else. It also can’t be edited. (The files do at least pretend to be a normal picture, displaying a flattened partial view as a thumbnail.) Viewing it on a suitable device – again, for my purposes, the Surface suffices – also permits an ‘augmented reality’ mode where yawing and pitching the device changes the view as if it were a window. Hardly a unique feature, I’m sure, but it’s still neat.

On one hand, this made sense – presumably the file was in a new, essentially incompatible format. On the other hand… the only way to make panoramas is with the camera on the device, it’s apparently not possible to view normal photos in the panorama mode, and I wanted to be able to display panoramas I’d already created with real cameras in the Surface’s AR mode. And so, time to investigate!

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