Microsoft has released a first public beta of a new blog-authoring tool, Windows Live Writer, and made it available for download starting on August 13.
According to J.J. Allaire, the architect of the tool, Windows Live Writer is the evolution of Onfolio Writer, a tool developed by his former company Onfolio Inc., which Microsoft acquired in March 2006.
Allaire shared details about the Windows Live Writer release on the newly minted Windows Live Writer team blog. He also spoke with the independent Web site, LiveSide.Net, which recorded Allaire's remarks in the form of a podcast.
Live Writer is designed to be a WYSIWYG editing tool, downloading the style sheet behind users' blogs so that users are able to see exactly what posts will look like on their pages before they are published. And via plug-ins built with the Live Writer software development kit (SDK), users will be able to add photos, screen shots, maps, video and other kinds of content to their blogs using Live Writer, Allaire said during the LiveSide podcast.
Live Writer also includes a "Blog This" feature that will allow users to select information on HTML Web pages that they want to post (with attribution) to their own blogs, Allaire said. The Live Writer tool will support Microsoft's Live Clipboard concept, as well as microformat content, such as calendar and events listings, Allaire added.
Ultimately, Allaire said he expects Windows Live Writer to be more than just a blog-posting tool. He said Live Writer could be used to make available product postings or any other kind of content that is being created for the Web.
The first release of Live Writer will be compatible with a wide range of platforms, including Windows Live Spaces, Blogger, LiveJournal, TypePad, Wordpress, blogs that support RSD (Really Simple Discoverability), Metaweblog application programming interface (API) and the Moveable Type API, according to Allaire. Microsoft plans to add support for other APIs and platforms, going forward.
Allaire did not offer a timetable for when Microsoft expects to deliver the final version of Windows Live Writer.
Windows Live Writer isn't Microsoft's only foray into blog-posting tools. The Office team built into Word 2007 the capability to post directly to blogs hosted on Windows Live Spaces, SharePoint Server 2007 and Community Server (the platform behind blogs.msdn.com and blogs.technet.com).
The first beta of Windows Live Writer originally was slated to be available for download from the Windows Live Ideas site at 12:01 a.m. (EST) on August 15, Allaire said. But the code was made available earlier to interested testers, starting August 13, via the Live Writer team blog.