There are many reasons why I do not use the WordPress editor to compose my posts. I prefer to work offline in a word processor, however, using MS Word may cause problems when you Copy/Paste your text from Word to the WordPress editor, because it transfers HTML code that can mess up your post – and your site – badly.

Microsoft officially released Windows Live Writer; it is available for download from Windows Live Services. Live Writer is a desktop application for Windows that has a clean and nice user interface providing more advanced editing functions than standard web editors. The application will save texts locally on your PC, in your blog’s drafts, and it can also publish posts once they are ready for show time.

Requirements & Compatilibity

Live Writer requires the use of Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2 operating system or later, a minimum processor of 800 Mhz, and preferably 256 MB of memory.

Surprisingly for a Microsoft product, Live Writer is compatible with a large number of blogging platforms, so you don’t need to be a Live Spaces blogger to take advantage of the application. Supported platforms include:

  • WordPress
  • Blogger
  • Live Spaces
  • Live Journal
  • TypePad
  • And all blogs supporting Really Simple Discoverability

Configuration for WordPress

After installing the application, you are automatically taken to a few basic configuration screens. If your blog runs on WordPress, when asked to choose “Weblog Type” select “Another weblog service”. You will be taken to the Weblog Homepage and Login configuration screen where you enter your blog’s information :

  • Weblog Homepage URL: Enter your full URL
  • Username: Your login account
  • Password: You login password
  • Once you have entered the above information, click Next and Live Writer will connect and synchronize with your WordPress server to download your theme.

Usability

As I already mentioned, the user interface is well polished. Live Writer can be used to write posts or pages, and while the editor keeps it straight and simple, the toolbar has all standard and default functionalities you would find in a text editor, but also some cool features such as:

  • An Insert button that allows you to add a Table, Tags for Technorati, del.icio.us, and others…, and even Maps using Microsoft Live Search (I haven’t done too much testing with this last one though).
  • Live Writer’s default view is set to Web Layout, which is similar to your WordPress editor. You can toggle to other views such as a normal (no web), HTML code, and Web Preview that displays your post embedded in your blog’s theme, without ever leaving the text editor.

The application’s design uses Microsoft standards à la Windows Live. Therefore, if you are familiar with other Live products you will be in known territory. Oh and by the way, as opposed to other Windows Live apps, there are no embedded publicity banners in the product.

Plugins

To help the immersion of Live Writer into a world where free open source products are firmly established, Microsoft opened its doors for developers who wish to write their own plugins and distribute them to the blogging community. You can visit the CodePlex Wiki to find more information on the available plugins.

Summary

While it is common these days to bash Microsoft’s products, I salute this Live Writer initiative. They could’ve write this product only for their Windows Live Spaces blogging platform, but instead they opened their mind and came up with a promising product compatible with most, if not all, blogging platforms. I give it a thumbs up.