Microsoft Tests Desktop Blogging Tool

Microsoft on Friday released a beta of Windows Live Writer, a new application designed to create blog posts for Live Spaces and a number of other services. Appearing like a slimmed down version of Microsoft Word, the tool is available free of charge.

Users can author blog posts in a WYSIWYG environment that makes editing easy and shows exactly how the post will look when published. An HTML source code editing mode is included for more advanced users, as well as a Web preview option.

Photo publishing has been integrated into Windows Live Writer, enabling users to quickly add an image to their blog post and modify it with the application's built-in tools. Size, text wrapping, borders can be edited, and a variety of graphical effects are also available.

Microsoft has additionally including mapping support with Live Writer. Users can insert a Windows Live Local map directly into their post, and customize it to show road, aerial or bird's eye detail. Pushpins can also be added to highlight a specific point.

"Blogging has turned the web into a two-way communications medium. Our goal in creating Writer is to help make blogging more powerful, intuitive, and fun for everyone," said Live Writer team member J.J. Allaire. "Writer has lots of features which we hope make for a better blogging experience."

The application currently supports Microsoft's own Windows Live Spaces blogging service, in addition to Blogger, LiveJournal, TypePad, WordPress and others. Support for RSD (Really Simple Discoverability), the Metaweblog API, and the Movable Type API are also included.

Although Live Writer is still in beta, Microsoft has made available an SDK that enables developers to extend the program with additional content types. Some examples of content that could be integrated include photos from Flickr, embedded video or product images from Amazon.

Windows Live Writer 1.0 Beta is available for download from FileForum.

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