It's highly unusual that I praise people at Microsoft, but using Windows Live Writer for a while has changed my thinking considerably. I realize that Microsoft is a company and not one person that is working, and at first I believed them to be complete idiots, but it seems as though I'm wrong. Someone over there actually has some brains, and its a good thing they worked on the Windows Live Writer division at Redmond.
To be honest I couldn't care much for the ribbon interface that the new Office 07 has, it is merely a selling point for the majority of the people who don't realize that its the same Office 2003, except it has a more shiny appearance, which deceives people into thinking it it's a entirely different product altogether. But Windows Live Writer is what really caught my attention. It is the first time Microsoft actually has a useful tool, that is very similar to its paid rival ecto and many other similar blogging applications.
Surprisingly, Microsoft has caught on to the idea that the Internet is giving an opportunity to everyone in this world who has a computer and an Internet connection can express their opinion, communicate and try their hand at "15 minutes of fame". And as soon as they sensed this, they started working on Live Writer. A weblog authoring tool that much to my surprise, is quite good.
First of all let me describe to you the hidden superpowers of this almost idiot proof application. Idiot proof in the sense that any average computer user that knows what the term bookmark means can use this software, without learning how to do things "the right way".
Microsoft has taken into consideration Dual Booting. I guess that Microsoft realized that many people out there who actually have a blog, and would download an application solely for the purpose of writing applications to a blog most likely have dual booting operating systems also. This led them into thinking about this idea - if the same software is installed on both the operating systems, wouldn't it be great if both the installations of the same software have the same settings.
To clarity what I mean is this - I installed windows live writer on my Windows Vista partition and started writing articles and publishing them to this blog. Then I installed Windows Live Writer on my Windows XP partition. At this point I was wondering if I had to re-input all the details so that I could post to this blog, but no it was already DONE! Live Writer automatically allowed me to post to this blog! Just a quick fact I'd like to point out though - even though all the account settings had been entered for me I still had to Update the Account Configuration, however I didn't have to re-enter any blog details. Amazing... that's what I call idiot proof (well Live Writer is not completely there yet, but almost). Software that does everything on it's own without the intervention of the user. In an ideal situation the man should sit back and the machine should take control - that's the main purpose of employing machines to do work in the first place.
The screenshot at the top is that of the Windows Live Writer on XP (service pack 2 of course), and the one on the bottom is of Windows Live Writer on Windows Vista (With Aero). Notice the difference in the post editing area.
Second Factor that shows Microsoft is headed the right way - Good designing and good features. Yes, that's right, the words Microsoft and Good Design in one sentence can be considered an oxymoron - two contradictory terms. But interestingly, Windows Live Writer, and even other applications for that matter, are slowly becoming more aesthetically pleasing, and that's not it, Microsoft is finally coming to realize that providing one button is far superior than to have 5 menus.
Scroll up and take a good look at the interface - It almost looks like Microsoft Word for blogs, doesn't it? It provides all the options necessary, but at the same time it is also simple to use. If you want you can put pictures in the post and along with that also add effects to the pictures. How interesting is that? Surely, online blog editors will not offer these interesting services at your finger tips. It even has spell check in it. Note: The quality of the spell check is far from the quality of spell check in word processing applications such as Microsoft Word. Things such as place names are often underlined with red squiggly lines and repetition of words do not seemed to be picked up by the spell checker. What more can a blogging addict ask for? Indeed Microsoft is taking a step in the right direction, and if they keep heading that way I'm sure that the outcome will only be good.
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