If you run a blog of your own, you
may will be interested to know that Windows Live Essentials ships with a very capable blog editor called Windows Live Writer. When you start Writer for the first time, you’ll need to set Writer up to publish to your blog, and that’s virtually any blog service you may use, not just Microsoft’s ‘Live Spaces’.
You can set it up to publish to Live Spaces, SharePoint and ‘Other blog service’ which includes Blogger and WordPress. Once you’ve selected whichever applies to you, just input the requested information and hit next. For a service like WordPress, you need your URL and username / password, whereas for a Windows service like spaces, you just need your Windows Live ID and Password.
When you’re all set up and ready to go, you’re presented with a clean and easy to use interface that isn’t overly complicated, but manages to put everything that you need in plain sight – Writer is one of the few Live applications not to feature the new Ribbon interface you’ll find in almost every other Windows 7 application as well as the upcoming Office 2010. Up front and centre, you’ll find the blog post, or at least a preview of what it will look like when you’re done playing around and publish it. On the sidebar to the right of your post you can insert various features in to your blog post including maps, videos, pictures or complete photo albums.
Many features you can import are pretty standard, but I love the way the photo albums are displayed in particular. When you select an imported feature such as a photo album or map, the sidebar to the right changes to a settings panel for the selected item. When the photo album is selected for example, you can choose the album style and the text wrapping to alter how it looks in the post. If you can’t find anything to your taste in the default options you can select to ‘Add a plug-in…’ at the bottom of the sidebar and choose from a host of downloadable extensions from Microsoft’s website. You can even download plug-ins for social networking platforms such as Facebook which was great!
Apart from the special additions that you can insert into your blog, Writer does everything you’d expect from a very basic word processing application with the option to post what you write to your blog. A feature I found quite useful was the ability to manage multiple accounts for people who have various blogs, and need to manage them off one application, which simplifies things considerably.
Overall, I found working with Live Writer to be the best desktop blogging experience I’ve encountered – creating and editing the posts themselves was simple and intuitive, helped with the tools presented clearly to you on the right hand side of your post without having to dig through menus to find everything! I’d recommend Windows Live Writer to anybody wanting to see what all the fuss about blogging is for themselves, and even those who are already experienced with blogging. Don’t download it expecting anything magical that will make you jump up and down in excitement, but as a free blogging tool to add onto your Windows 7 installation, Writer does its job very well.