Microsoft Rolls Out Windows Blogging Software Beta

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Called Windows Live Writer, the new desktop application has WYSIWYG features to help bloggers handle text layout, images and multimedia content like maps from Microsoft's Windows Live Local service. A software development kit allows developers to extend the application to connect with other online services such as photo sites and tagging services.

Windows Live Writer supports outside blogging services like WordPress, Blogger, TypePad and LiveJournal, and users can choose their preferred service from a drop-down menu. The application supports third-party APIs from Moveable Type and MetaWeblog, and Microsoft said its goal is for Writer to work with every available blogging service.

Microsoft's developers are increasingly drawing on grassroots "geek" technologies such as blogs, wikis and other community-building features popular with the open-source development crowd. The company introduced wikis on its developer network and launched a shared-source development portal called CodePlex in June. The Redmond, Wash., software giant also is experimenting internally with more transparent and flexible development models.

Blogs don't require specialized creation tools, and many bloggers create their posts in the default posting interface offered by their service or in standard word-processing programs like Microsoft Word. In fact, Office 2007's Word update will have blog-specific tools and publishing features to serve the growing demand for blogging.

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Still, specialized applications like Writer can offer time-saving shortcuts and aesthetically pleasing features. Early reviews of the application praise its easy setup and smooth interface but warn of deployment glitches typical of beta software.