Microsoft has released the beta of a desktop blogging application that it hopes users will use in conjunction with either Windows Live Spaces, its own browser-based blog application, or a third party application such as Blogger, LiveJournal, Typepad or WordPress.
Microsoft is positioning the beta of Windows Live Writer as an easy-to-use tool for bloggers who want to see exactly what their post will look like upon being published to the Web. Calling it WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) blog authoring, the application provides a number of tools for posting photos, images and even maps on a blog. Users can, for example, insert a photo by browsing image thumbnails through the Insert Picture dialogue, or by copying and pasting from a Web page. Other tools allow users to then modify image size, text wrapping, borders and other graphical effects.
Earlier this month, Microsoft began rolling out its Windows Live Spaces service, which included new social networking features, a way to link to contacts and tools to customize user blogs. However, none of these tools are as advanced as those Live Writer offers, JupiterReasearch senior analyst Joe Wilcox noted.
And this was probably not by accident.
“The layout controls for Windows Live Spaces are fairly limited,” he told TechNewsWorld. “Windows Live Writer makes it much easier to design a visually appealing post on Windows Live Spaces.”
For instance, he said, the quality of the photo services in Windows Live Spaces could stand to be upgraded. Basically, Microsoft’s approach to photos on Spaces has resulted in lower quality iimages for Web viewing.
This strategy of offering relatively good browser-based or Web-based applications, supplemented by much better desktop-based tools, has been a pattern with Microsoft, according to Wilcox. Ultimately, he added, Live Writer is a robust tool that supports Web-based blogging applications, yet manages to pull their functionality and relevancy back to the desktop.
Over the past few years, as more and more applications have become Internet-based, Microsoft has been realigning its products to keep desktop software relevant to consumers. Its blog offerings are a perfect illustration of this, Wilcox declared. “Yes, you can blog on Spaces, but you can blog much better with the off-line tool.”
Microsoft had previously announced plans to launch close to 10 Windows Live beta services it has been testing by the end of this summer. These will include Windows Live OneCare Safety Scanner and Windows Live QnA beta, the latter a new vertical search tool that will let users join an online community to ask and answer questions on any given topic.