There have been multiple user questions and complaints in the Microsoft Community Forums about displaying large cloud based photo collections – Facebook, Flickr, and SkyDrive – in the Windows 8 Metro Photos App.

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User complaints range from not being able to display albums with over 100 pictures to 500 pictures and/or not being able to display when there are a large number of albums themselves.

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There has finally been an explanation for this poor performance from William Sproule, MSFT":

 

The Photos app will attempt to sync a preview resolution copy of your Flickr, Facebook or Skydrive photos onto your machine.  It attempts to pull down the preview file up to 3 times before giving up in most cases.  If you come back to the app more than 15 minutes later and navigate into the folder again (both 15 min and navigate in are required), it should try again.  Repeated attempts like this may enable you to get your full collection cached on your Windows 8 machine.

You can determine the space used by the Photos app (and all modern apps) in modern PC Settings – General – View app sizes button.  If you feel an app is consuming too much space, you can decide to uninstall it to reclaim that space (deletes app data which could include what you might consider documents depending on the app).  For photos, since the app only stores a cache of your Flickr, Facebook and Skydrive files, you can always get to those files again on those services or reinstall the Photos app and cache them again at a later date.

In effect, it would seem a slower speed Internet Connection would mean lower capabilities to pull down these preview files, which might explain why users seem to find different limitations.

Sadly, not a good experience.

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