When it comes to photo editing, especially if it's not a task I often perform, I need a simple but effective tool to help me out, one that won't make me spend much money. An application I consider to fit these needs is Windows Live Photo Gallery.
Among the very useful utilities that helped me improve the visual quality of my photos, the program also allowed me to create stunning slideshows, publish the pictures directly on my Flickr account or send them via e-mail, organize the photos, etc.
What impressed me the most about Windows Live Photo Gallery was the ability to make panoramic photos by using more pictures from the same scene. This feature obviously comes in handy for users who don't own cameras that allow taking panoramic pictures.
Sadly, the application lacks a batch-processing feature, so, whenever you need to fix more photos at a time, you might find yourself spending a lot of time and effort applying the changes.
In my opinion, Windows Live Photo Gallery is worth a shot, but if you are professional photographer and you wish to polish your photos, I recommend trying more advanced tools that offer you more visual configurations.