Never underestimate Microsoft. Sure they have a mangy mutt of a browser (Use Firefox!) and security patches come a dime a dozen but sometimes they get it right.
This is one of those times. Photo Story is fun, easy and stimulates your creativity. Imagine easy slideshows, photo poems, vacation slideshows, school projects, creating tutorials, and citizen journalism. This is one useful program. It is also free.
Photo Story can help you assemble a group of pictures, combine those still pictures with motion effects, attach music and create movies in the Windows Media Video format.
You can send the video as an email, to Smartphone cell phone users or to those poor souls that have melded with their media players. I'm telling you this consolidates about 5 pieces of software I had to use to get similar effects but no where near as effective.
Now if you are allergic to what is now known as the "Ken Burns Effect" you might hesitate to use this program. Fear not, you can customize movements and transitions to suit your nature.
So if there is a birthday, anniversary or some other event that you want to make a photo montage/video then this is the one to start with. This program runs on Windows XP. You will need to have Windows Media Player 10 to be fully functional.
Most versions of Windows Media Player shouldn't have any problems playing back the videos.
Want to see what it can do before you donwload? There are sample videos on the M$ web sites but another place for creative support is http://www.windowsphotostory.com