Next in our blog editor review is Windows Live Writer. Not sure what’s the version I am still downloading five minutes after launching a setup, but I hope it’s the latest one.
(5 minutes later) It’s the version 1366, which have to be updated to version 1367 via Microsoft Update. Downloading patch separately isn’t possible. You have to watch out for these things, you know!
The installation of this blog editor software wasn’t even close to the simplicity of previous packages. First – you have to download the installer. Then installer searches for Windows Live Writer installations on your computer and then downloads and installs updated core version. Then you have to go through Windows Update to …emm… update Writer to the latest version. Obviously, Microsoft doesn’t look for simple ways of doing things.
During the install process I noticed that Microsoft, being an innovator everywhere, uses the term ‘weblog’ instead of more common ‘blog’. Guess it makes some sense to people at MS, but it totally escapes me. While installing the Writer itself, the installer offered to poison my laptop with Messenger, Mail, Toolbar, Photo Gallery and Family Safety modules. I politely declined. Upon finishing the installation, the setup program decided that now it has powers over my machine and opened Windows Live homepage without even asking. But I expected that anyway.
Installation asks you for your blog URL, login and password. It automatically determines the type of the blog you have and adjusts accordingly. For example, there is a Weblog menu in the toolbar which is just a couple of links to your blog and dashboard (if you’re like me using WordPress).
On the outside Windows Live Writer looks like a lost Vista program unintentionally trapped in classic Windows XP interface. Nice gradient backgrounds, cute Vista-like menus and button behavior undoubtedly look much better then competition. One very important perk that I just must point out – Windows Live Writer downloads and uses styles from your actual blog. So when you are typing away your post in WYSIWYG mode – you actually see it the way it will show up on your web page. Very good and very convenient, none of the competitors so far had this nice feature. Also, the whole post is justified by both left and right margin, so it looks like solid block of text. Also very good design idea.
There is no ability to import previous blog posts. If you absolutely must have to have a local backup of your posts – Windows Live Writer isn’t your primary choice. However, local save as draft is there, as is the ability to post draft to blog and post draft and continue to edit entry online. All posts that were made from Windows Live Writer are saved locally as well, so if you are just starting to blog – you may not miss much. Windows Live Writer can handle multiple blogs just as easy as any other software. Although keep in mind that it will always start with the latest used account.
Spell-check is there (as you type) as well as regular set of buttons to insert bulleted and numbered lists, blockquotes, links and pictures. It deserves to note that there is a separate feature that allows you to insert a table. Although, knowing how much WordPress “loves” tables in posts,
I doubt the feature has any use for me I am surprised it actually works!
Another truly outstanding feature is the ability to extend the functionality of Windows Live Writer with plug-ins. There is 77 of them available right now and possibility of some more – Windows Live Writer SDK is freely available. So maybe, one day, I will see something that will address my needs.
To sum it all up – Windows Live Writer is a very good tool for semi-pro bloggers, who don’t live off their blogging habit. It’s solid, very good looking app with tons of useful features and perks. Definitely recommended, unless you own Mac.