I had a pleasant surprise the other day when I discovered there had been an update to my all-time favourite blogging application, Microsoft Live Writer. It is included as part of the Windows Live Essentials 2011 release which can be downloaded from here.
One thing that has always amazed me is that with the Apple Mac always being popular with the more ‘creative’ used-Converse wearing ‘creatives’ amongst us, why isn’t there a decent blogging application for OS X? Sure there are a few Ok’ish Apple based blogging tools such as Mars Edit and Ecto out there but they, in my opinion, fall way short of the usability and functionality found with the Windows only Microsoft Live Writer. I would be prepared to pay good money for a native OS-X Live Writer version or equivalent as Live Writer is one of the remaining reasons (the other being for VMware vCenter Server Client) why I still have to run Windows 7 under Fusion on my MacBook Pro.
A large part of the reason for my liking Live Writer is in it’s ease of use and familiar look and feel to that of the Microsoft Office range of products. The real icing on the cake are the really useful community developed plug-ins that you can add to Live Writer to extend its already rich functionality. That said, most of the plug-ins are now 2+ years old making me think that perhaps that my beloved Live Writer utility may just fade out… Luckily with this latest update, Live Writer 2011, this is obviously not the case – hurray!
Did I mention that Live Writer was also free? Well, unlike many things these days Live Writer is part of the Microsoft Live suite of products and is free to download and use. So if you’re a blogger using a Microsoft Windows based OS there is no excuse not to download it and give it a try, I think you’ll be impressed and will find it hard to go back to your old blogging application.
One thing to look out for when downloading and installing Live Writer is that the installer will also try and install the other products from the Microsoft Live portfolio such as SilverLight or MSN Messenger which you may not use or want to install. These extra utilities and applications however can be de-selected at install time.
The most obvious difference between the previous version of Live Writer 2009 and the latest Live Writer 2011 is the interface. The new updated interface found in the 2011 version has had a major facelift which gives it the same look and feel as the ribbon bar found in MS Office 2007 +.
Below: The old Windows Live Writer 2009 interface
Below: the updated Windows Live Writer 2011 interface
This is the first blog post I’ve created in LiveWriter 2011 and I have to say I like the improved interface experience, sure it is taking me a few seconds longer to find the new location of the features though this is par for the course for any new updated interface.
After upgrading to Live Writer any 3rd party plug-ins you may have already installed and enable will also be available.
Another improvement/bug fix with Live Writer 2011 is that I have found that the ‘Preview’ function now displays my blog correctly which is certainly useful when making sure that a new blog post looks how I want before publishing it.
A last point of note is that the Microsoft Live Writer blog has now moved to here so this is worth book-marking if you use the application.
Congratulations to the Microsoft Windows Live Writer team for producing such a decent update to an already excellent product – keep up the good work and thanks for making my ability to blog an easier and more pleasurable experience!