I have a strange relationship with Microsoft’s Windows Live services. To some extent, I have the same issue with Google in that sometimes I find them really useful but then I get uncomfortable with storing all of my information "in the cloud", rather than on a server that I control (and don’t get me started on the data that the UK Government stores on me…).
Well, for once, Microsoft seems to have the right idea. It may all be based around shoring up their traditional cash cows of Windows and Office, but instead of saying "forget the desktop… switch to the webtop", they are developing applications that bridge the gap between desktop and web (as are Google with Google Gears).
A few months back I wrote about blogging from within Microsoft Office and this is my first post using Windows Live Writer. Although I’ve only been using it for a few minutes I’m impressed – and this is why:
- Firstly, although the installer told me about the other Windows Live applications that I might like to try, it didn’t force them on me.
- Secondly, it was perfectly happy to accept that I don’t use Windows Live Spaces for blogging.
- Thirdly, it was able to detect the settings for my WordPress site without me supplying any more than a URL, username and password – and then the advanced settings were quite happy with the idea that I publish images via FTP rather than storing them in the WordPress database.
- It also downloaded the stylesheet that I use, so as I write this (offline), I can see what the post will look like when I publish (there are options to view unstyled, with the layout that I use on the site, preview the post on the site, or view the code). I can also see that it’s also using valid XHTML.
For the last few years, I’ve been writing on the train using Windows Notepad or gedit, then coming home and finishing the post with weblinks and additional information.
Now I can streamline the process with Windows Live Writer (including setting categories and a publishing date) so that the rework when I get home should be fairly minimal.