This is a really interesting time in the online world as the big players compete with each to improve their online offerings to attract more and more users.
The result of the competition is that there is a lot of good stuff out there, if you’re into the online thing, and its mostly free to use. I’ve already had a look at quite a bit of what’s available, including blogs and photo sharing services, but this week I found a tool that you can use when composing your blog posts.
It’s called Windows Live Writer and is a cute little wordprocessor which you can download free fromMicrosoft’s Windows Live site. Its not very big, just over 3Mb as I recall, and it installs just like any other program file.
Questions you will be asked during installation include the web address of the blog you want to post to, your username and password. Live Writer then goes off to find out what sort of blog you have and to download the details it will need before it can send posts to that blog.
You are then presented with a page which has a box where you type the title of your post and a blank bit where you type whatever it is you have to say on that occasion. You can save your post and come back to it whenever you like, and when you’re happy with it, you click the Publish button and the post is added to your blog.
Blogging services all have web-based pages for composing posts but you need to have a live Internet connection to be able to use them. Live Writer allows to you compose your masterpieces offline and add them to your blog when you connect to the Intenet.
Another benefit of Live Writer is that it retains copies of your posts which could be useful if your blog host ever has a disaster and loses the works. Live Writer allows you to add other blogs at a later date and makes it easy to switch between them and post an entry to whichever one of them you need to.
There is no doubt that Microsoft would just love you to become a user of their Live Spaces service and use Live Writer to post entries to your blog there. Cunningly, however, they have made it so that you can still use Live Writer if you’re a user of any of the popular blogging services out there including Blogger, LiveJournal, WordPress and TypePad.
I have tested Live Writer on my Live Spaces page, where it worked perfectly, and also on Blogger, which I am using for the time being. Blogger does not allow third parties to upload pictures to their blogs so Live Writer can only be used for posting text to Blogger.
Live Writer is still in its Beta Test phase and is not directly supported by Microsoft. There is a rudimentary help feature available and, if you’re really stuck, there is a user forum, which is monitored by Microsoft employees, and which produces results pretty quickly.
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