Microsoft Windows Live Writer: User-Friendly Software That Saves Bloggers Time
Social Media—This is a review of Microsoft's Live Writer software, written from a writer/user's perspective. Right off the bat, let me say that I will merely describe my experience with and observations of it, not a complete technical overview. Microsoft provided me with a laptop pre-loaded with Windows LiveWriter, and some training in the use of the product. I used it mainly in the context of writing for Evo '11. I usually use WordPress, and get along well with its functionality. Any positive comments expressed herein about LiveWriter do not necessarily reflect negatively on WordPress.
When I was asked to be a blogger for Evo, using a laptop and software with which I was not familiar, I was somewhat hesitant. I needed something I could pick up quickly and with which I could write publishable content quickly and seamlessly. I was pleased when I opened LiveWriter and discovered it looked and felt much like MS Word, a program with which I am very familiar. Live Writer emulates a variety of blogging programs: Windows Live Spaces, SharePoint blogs, Blogger, LiveJournal, TypePad, WordPress, Telligent Community, PBlogs.gr, JournalHome, the MetaWeblog API, the Movable Type API, Blogengine, Squarespace and all blogs that support RSD (Really Simple Discoverability). This means that you tell it what program your blog is in, it pulls in your categories and custom settings, you write, submit drafts, and publish content using the functionality and formatting available in LiveWriter.
Part of the beauty of Live Writer is that you can insert pictures, videos, lines, tables, and even maps with ease, and resize and align them with simple clicking-and-dragging. The fact that you can drop a picture in, from either a URL or your own computer, resize it, crop it, etc., without having to do that in an intermediary program first, saves time, and anything that saves me time is a very good thing. Inserting videos is simply a matter of pasting the embed html right into your visual content; you don't have to figure out where to insert it in the html view. You don't have to preview it to see how it fits into your post; the video sits in the draft of your blog, and you can clack-and-drag to enlarge or reduce it.
I'm particularly excited about the ability to add tables. This is a functionality that WordPress does not possess, as far as I know, one that I would use frequently if it did to compare products in review posts, for example. Adding columns and rows is as simple as it is in MS Word, and you can even add borders, although the technique for doing so is slightly more complicated than it is in Word. You cannot add forms or polls in Live Writer, though, like you can in WordPress, a lack that would make life more difficult for some post writers.
Doing things like setting tags and post dates, previewing your posts, and looking at source HTML code is just as easy as it is in WordPress. Spellchecking is available in both programs, as is the ability to add categories, author pages, and insert hyperlinks. One glaring lack in LiveWriter was the inability to set a featured image. It's possible that it's there and I just missed it. If it's there, it's well-hidden. If you know LiveWriter and know how to do this, leave a comment, please, and let me know.
All in all, although its not perfect, LiveWriter wins my approval for its ease of use and more advanced insertion options, both of which save me some time and increase the visual appeal of my posts.
What is your favorite software to use when blogging? What helps you save time when blogging?
Disclosure: The Sony Vaio laptop with the free software program Windows LiveWriter was loaned to me by Microsoft for the purposes of blogging for the 2011 evo Conference and providing this feedback review on working with the LiveWriter product. The opinions expressed herein are my own.