Windows Live Wave 2.0 enjoyed its final release today, with a huge amount of websites and software getting new or final non-beta releases. The new Windows Live Installer is out, with new or final versions of Messenger, Mail, Writer, and Photo Gallery, and for the the first time, the installer supports 64-bit systems (but not for Family Safety). You can directly download the installer here.
Windows Live Calendar, available within Live Hotmail, should also be available today to all users. Just sign into your Live ID account, then go to calendar.live.com, and you should be set. Adding events is easy, just double-click on a date, and you can set the basic details (or click to edit advanced options). You can create multiple calendars, with multiple options for sharing or setting co-owners of calendars. I’m enjoying playing around with it the last half hour, and it even sort of/almost works in Opera.
The news you need to know right now: Live.com email addresses are available right now. Not just Live.com, but Live.at, live.be, windowslive.com, live.co.uk and many more. Here is the whole list, courtesy LiveSide:
HONG KONG LIVE.HK
SOUTH AFRICA LIVE.CO.ZA
Head to get.live.com/getlive/overview for all the domains or this link for Live.com email addresses. Now that Live.com email addresses can be linked, you can get the Hotmail.com and Live.com versions of your email, or a better Live.com version, and switch between Hotmail inboxes with a simple click.
Another program is now available that you can run off a flash drive without needing to install anything, and that program is Windows Live Writer. Scott Kingery has put together a version of the Windows Live Writer 3 Beta that you can plop on a USB drive or install on a U3 drive. Then you can pop it in on any computer wherever you go and use your favorite blogging software to great pleasure.
(via Download Squad)
Microsoft finally delivered the first Windows Live Suite, a single installer that allows you to install a number of Windows Live programs as a single download that updates regularly. Go to this site and configure your 1.8 megabyte download, picking from these products:
- Windows Live Mail – the ad-supported desktop email client that integrates well with Windows Live Hotmail, but lets you add any regular email account, plus RSS feeds, spell checking, PhotoMail and Windows Live Contacts. Replaces Outlook Express in Windows XP and Windows Mail in Windows Vista.
- Windows Live Photo Gallery – software for managing, finding, sharing, tagging and editing photos. Replaces Windows Photo Gallery in Vista and is a completely new feature for XP.
- Windows Live Writer – blog posting tool, supporting almost all popular blogging software. Considered one of the best products in its category.
- Windows Live Messenger – instant messaging, compatible with Yahoo Messenger. By getting it as part of the Suite, you don’t have to worry as much about installing new versions.
- Windows Live Sign-In assistant – required install, helps you sign in to Windows Live ID. When you visit a Windows Live ID site in your browser, the sign-in assistant can help out by displaying large buttons for various Live IDs and, in some cases, letting you just click on the account you want to sign in.
- Windows Live OneCare Family Safety – parental control software, allows parents to monitor and restrict a child’s internet access
- Windows Live Toolbar – Internet Explorer toolbar, very powerful toolbar for accessing Windows Live sites and services.
All the software included features newer updated versions. Live Messenger has some bugs fixed. Live Mail has a new List View for contacts, contacts import/export improvements, toolbar customization, Quick Views, improved Layout Dialog options, changing your sign in account, Photo E-Mail updates and Newsgroup updates.
Live Writer is hugely improved. The new version has video insertion (from Soapbox, including your own account, and other video websites), image uploading to Blogger/PicasaWeb, the ability to publish XHTML-style markup, 28 new languages, printing blog posts, justifying and aligning post text, and better image handling, including a fix for the blurry images problem, in addition to bug fixes and installation issues.
Live Photo Gallery gets improved color adjustment and cropping capabilities, image sharpening, shadow and highlight levels, image resizing, batch image resizing, a picture import tool that grabs pictures from your camera in a much better way than Vista or XP do, publishing photos to Windows Live Spaces and videos to MSN Soapbox. This is the first public beta of this software, also.
One complaint: The Suite is not yet available for 64-bit systems.
Curiously, the Suite offers to set your homepage to MSN.com, not Live.com, which probably indicates the change in strategy away from the personalized homepage.
My Opera web browser, normally the king of stability, crashed and completely screwed up my saved tabs, so I’m posting everything old right now, in order to set things right.
There’s a Silverlight Streaming plugin for Windows Live Writer, which allows you to automatically insert Silverlight Streaming applications into your blog posts. It’ll check your Streaming account, give you a list of apps with previews, and let you click to insert. Sweet.
(via Angus Logan)
Here’s another roundup of recent additions to the Windows Vista Sidebar Gadgets universe:
Stopwatch, a simple Gadget that lets you time an event down to the thousandths of a second, with just play/pause and stop buttons.
Poller, a Gadget that present you with random poll from Dpolls.com and lets you vote on it and see results. A pretty good time-waster. One problem: Way too many foreign language polls. Try choosing a category that is at least more likely to be in English.
Outlook Info shows you the latest emails, calendar items and Tasks from Outlook. It has skins, can be used to select a specific mailbox, and you can open more than one instance of the Gadget to track multiple mailboxes. More useful than the official Outlook Gadgets.
Soapbox on MSN Video Search lets you search MSN Soapbox and view videos right from the desktop. Works and looks great.
Barcode Clock is a barcode! It’s a clock! It’s a clock, made out of a barcode! Pretty cool in a geek way.
Screen Saver Gadget plays any screen saver inside of it, a good way to get something funky in the Sidebar.
Live QnA shows questions from Windows Live QnA, which you can customize by adding tags.
iStat Battery shows battery status in a cool package, with five skins. iStat wireless is a matching Gadget with wifi status. iStat combo shows memory and CPU status.
Eternize’s Apps Quick Link is a simple icon launcher Gadget. It isn’t in English, but is simple enough to use, and you may prefer it to other launcher Gadgets.
MultiSearch is a silly Gadget with search engines spinnign around the box. There are a lot of non-English search engines, and I don’t like the way it works, but it sure is silly.
QuickTube searches YouTube and displays videos within the Gadget. It isn’t in English, but easy to understand.
iClock is another clock Gadget, one with four good skins and a few useful options.
Marketing Tutor displays marketing tips on your desktop.
Shotdown provides buttons to shutdown, standby and restart your computer.
GTA Countdown counts down to the release of the Grand Theft Auto 4 trailer, or can be set to count down to the release of the game.
Windows Vista Sidebar Battery Gadget is yet another battery status Gadget.
eBay Sidebar Tool lists items from your My eBay with various item status notifications, including international versions of eBay and 3 skins.
Sidebar Baby is a creepy sexless baby that you can feed milk. It doesn’t work well, and can’t even be dragged, but boy is it creepy.
Calvin n’ Hobbes Gadget shows a little picture of the comic duo, and if you click on it, a fly-out shows a random classic Calvin n’ Hobbes comic strip.
Mike Huckabee for President lets you show your support for Mike Huckabee on your desktop and links to the campaign website.
There are a bunch of new official magazine Gadgets: EW.com TV Watch which lets you know what’s on, recaps from last night and the latest headlines from Entertainment Weekly’s website. The InStyle.com Party Calendar shows you what the stars are up to. Time Quotes and News shows the quote of the day and latest news from Time.com. The People.com Gadget shows news, photos and fashions.
The Countdown to Anything Gadget is real useful, because it lets you choose anything to count down to.
The Daily Thought Gadget gives you a daily thought from Rabbi Tzvi Freedman.
Vista Hot Corners is a very cool Gadget that lets you get a Mac OS X-style Expose windows manager. Just put your mouse over the Gadget, and it automatically arranges your windows in an Expose style, or instead use Flip 3D. You can change the color of the Gadget, flip it, and change its height, so as to get it to fit in real well with your display.
All of these Gadgets are featured in the screenshot above.
As a bonus, wlw Paste As is a plugin for Windows Live Writer that helps you copy and paste from webpages, preserving properly all the HTML formatting.
There’s also a new RSS feed reader Gadget for Windows Sideshow devices.
I got my hand on a recent internal build of Windows Live Writer, and I’m happy to bring you guys screenshots and info. First off, the new features/changes:
- Updated to the Windows Live look and feel, including the Live flair, hidden File menu, and overall more polished look
- Windows Live â€œMeâ€ blog switching control
- Inline Spell Checking
- Post Synchronization / Roundtrip Post Editing
- Paste Special
- Table Editing
- Extended Entry Support (on blogs that have this feature)
- SharePoint Support
- Preferences for Window Behavior
- Insert Image Improvements: UI consolidation, easier linking to web images.
- Insert Hyperlink Improvements: Link to Previous Posts, Link Glossary
- WYSIWYG Template Robustness: No temporary post on many blogs, including WordPress
Now for the screenshots, which will run through most of the new features:
First off, the new interface:
Note the blue flair design seen on everything Windows Live, the lack of the File/Edit/… menu, and the new Insert Table and Insert Tags links in the Sidebar and new toolbar buttons. The View button replaces the old button that listed the current view status, and Tools takes you to preferences or spell checking. The paintbrush icon is to customize the window color, and that folder icon reveals the File Menu (hitting ALT does it, too).
Here are the other interface elements (File menu and publishing options) expanded:
Here you have the insert image dialog, which has a tab for inserting an image from the web, including previewing it, seeing the dimensions, and setting link options:
The tag editing UI:
Inserting a Windows Live Map into posts (you can even set and customize pushpins!):
Here’s what the map looks like in Writer:
And here’s the map I created:
The Split Post button, which uses a blog’s “More” or “extended entry” feature:
The category picker:
It’s been moved to the bottom with the other publishing tools (including a way to set the publish date without opening the entire publish pane). It doesn’t do categories the way WordPress does (where a category can be nested underneath another one), it is improved.
The interface in black, thanks to the color picker:
I wish Windows Live software would speak to each other, and all use the same colors I choose, but at least they let me choose it in the first place, which is nice.
I like the new blog picker button, which includes the logo for your blogging service:
Also, I like switching between post drafts easily:
It’s not quite tabs, but it works well.
Inline spell checking:
And tons of options for tables:
And finally, the image editing options:
Verdict: They’ve gone and taken what might be the best blog editing tool out there and made it better. It looks better, has a few good new features, works better connecting to your blog (no more Temporary Post For Style Detection), has an even easier and better organized interface. Great work!
I don’t know when this will be available, or if the next version you see is a somewhat different later build, but it should be great either way.
This entire post was written in the new version of Windows Live Writer.
Windows Live Writer has been updated with a smattering of new features, usability improvements and bug fixes. The rundown:
- Support for tagging
- Support for the new Blogger Beta
- Categories list fixed. It is now sorted by name, scrollable (before it was completely broken if you had too many categories and ran off the screen)
- Faster startup
- Can paste into the Title field
- Can tab and shift-tab back and forth from the Title field
- Right-click on selected text to insert link
- Insert Link dialog has Title tag
- Custom date support for Community Server
- Improved keyboard shortcuts for switching between views
- Spell check shortcut key is now F7
- PNG included in Insert Image dialog
- Better image uploading to Live Spaces
- Improved blog style detection
- Fixed issues with pasting URLs and links
- Remembers last windows size and position
- Retrieve more than 25 recent posts
There’s also a new section on the Windows Live Gallery for Writer plugins. Currently there are only seven listed, but they’ll get all of the many Writer plugins in there, and then all the other sites listing the plugins will watch their readership disappear.
To download the new version, just click here.
Read more at the Writer Zone blog, Mike Torres
There are even more plugins for popular blogging tool Windows Live Writer, as linked to by the LiveSide blog. You can find a bunch at JefTek’s blog post, including:
CodePlex has a few more, including a Winamp Now Playing plugin, Paste Clipboard as HTML plugin, Rhapsody Now Playing plugin and Webcam Snapshot plugin, all in development.
Plus, there’s a Windows Live Writer Plugins blog, which has:
Posts that contain "Temporary Post Used For Style Detection" per day for the last 30 days.
Get your own chart!
TDavid spotted this ink blogging plugin for Windows Live Writer. Seems very cool; just unzip and click “Insert Ink Blog” in the sidebar. Can’t do that with a web-based interface! Tablet users should be quite happy.
Say, I’ve got a Windows Mobile phone with a touchscreen. What is the simplest way for me to draw something on it to save and upload to my computer (free software preferred, open source even better)?
Keep sending me links to plugins, I’ll post them here. You can follow Windows Live Writer posts by clicking here, and subscribe to a feed of them at this link.
Posts that contain Temporary Post Used For Style Detection per day for the last 30 days.
Get your own chart!
UPDATE: JefTek has a good list of plugins, which adds a code formatting plugin and a coming soon Smug Mug plugin.
Amit searched Technorati for the Windows Live Writer temporary post, the one created when Writer autodetects your blog’s style, and found a ton of them. At last count, Technorati has indexed 1,283 of them, and those numbers are only growing. In a way, this is almost a decent count of the number of installs of the software (although you’d have to adjust it by Technorati’s index accuracy). I say when the number reaches 10,000 we send the development team a cake.
By the by, here we can track the progress visually:
Posts that contain "Temporary Post Used For Style Detection" per day for the last 30 days.
Get your own chart!
Tim Heuer has already written two Windows Live Writer plugins, and they are now available for download.
FLickr4Writer lets you browse any Flickr library, choose picture sizes, alignment and other options, and paste the photos in your blog post. It adds a “Insert Flickr Image” link to the sidebar, and I’m very happy I installed it.
Tag4Writer is a Technorati tag plugin, enabling you to create a Technorati tag list and inserting it after your posts.
Granted, Tim had a headstart, but I’ll bet he inspires lots of others. I’m waiting for a full-on WordPress plugin to enable all of WordPress’s advanced features within writer (like custom fields), and I bet I’ll get it. All the coverage of Writer is labeling it Windows Live’s first slam dunk and a true killer app. Congratulations to everyone at Live, you deserve this moment in the spotlight.
There is also a Currently Listening plugin, posting what music you are listening to in Windows Media Player or iTunes. If you spot any other plugins, post below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
So, here I am, sitting at a friend’s wedding, blogging over EDGE, exactly what I didn’t plan on doing. Eh, this is what happens wheb you rely on people to hold by embargoes.
Anyway, my first impressions of Windows Live Writer are very good. While the product is filled with usability mistakes (all of which I’ll detail tonight), the bottom line is that it does the job well. The WYSIWYG editor goes beyond having formatted text to actually formatting the whole page, letting you edit your blog in the most natural of environments. Once they iron the bugs out in it, it should prove to be the most natural method of blog editing available, making a blog feel more like a Word document and less like a web form.
Meanwhile, Writer is designed with the future in mind. It comes with a plugin architecture designed to extend its use in the future. Already, they’ve created a nigh universal “Blog This”, since the Windows Live Toolbar has that very button, which wisks you straight into Writer. From communication with some of the Live folks, it seems like they want you building plugins to get your Flickr photos, del.icio.us bookmarks, and all sorts of other services built in. Not only am I excited about competitive services being built in, so are they!
Two good things about Writer: The Live services tend to get good development support, so this won’t likely be forgotten like the latest Google of the week. Also, Writer will likely be presented as a great tool for users of Windows Live Spaces, far and away the largest blog platform. That means plenty of incentive for mod developers to showcase their abilities. Why wouldn’t you design your Digg/del.icio.us/Slahsdot/Netscape/Technorati/BoingBoing/Scoble/TechCrunch autosubmitter/spammer to the world’s largest blogging community?
There are plenty of rough edges, but that is to be expected. Listen to LiveSide’s audio interview for the lowdown on how an Onfolio tool became Writer.
Also, to give credit where credit is due: Gary at Menori appears to have had the story first, posting about Windows Live Writer as far back as July 15! Nice scoop, and he didn’t screw over any embargoes to do it. I only wish he had spammed the rest of us to get the word out (and oodles of links).
So to sum it up: Live Writer works for everybody, but is tied to a hugely popular service, guaranteeing it gets wide use and hopefully lots of cool plugins. I wouldn’t be surprised if, due to a large number of downloads, the developers are forced to make the program a lot bigger than they intended. Good. Spaces is a nice success story for Microsoft, and there’s no reason to believe products related to it won’t turn to gold.
Got my hand on the latest Windows Live Beta, called Writer, that just left embargo this very minute. In this post, we’ll be walking through the product. Afterwards, I’ll give my early review, and take a look at some problems I have with the software. You can download it right now at ideas.live.com.
In a nutshell, Windows Live Writer is a blog posting tool, like Ecto or Blogjet, but integrated with several other Live services, and hopefully more in the future.
The installer contains a strangely worded EULA. It seems more friendly than most, using more natural language, clear terminology, short sentences, and lots of white space. Could this be a new Microsoft policy, or am I reading too much into it?
Just to note: One of my favorite little things about Windows Vista is that when you install a program, not only is it highlighted the next few times you go to the Start Menu, but it scrolls right to it.
The first time you run Writer, it asks you if you want to create a Windows Live Space. This means you can hand Writer to someone who wants to blog but doesn’t know how, and it’ll run them through the whole process.
Otherwise, you can select another service to use. Writer supports RSD (Really Simple Discoverability), the Metaweblog API, and the Movable Type API, which means it works with WordPress, WordPress.com, TypePad, Blogger, LiveJournal, Movable Type, Radio Userland, Community Server, Dasblog, and any other service using those APIs.
The closer your blog is to a default installation and recent version, the more likely Writer is to autodetect all your settings. With just your homepage URL, l username and password, Writer may detect your blog type and XMLRPC location without any work from you. For example, setting up this blog required no intervention, but since InsideGoogle is an older version of WordPress, I had to help out the software a little.
Looks like Writer wrote and deleted a temporary post on this blog during setup. It didn’t delete it fast enough for Bloglines, though!
The centerpiece of Live Writer is the Web Layout view. In it, your blog appears relatively similar to its real world styling, and the text is formatted as it would appear on the final website. All this is done by the program downloading and using your blogs own HTML and CSS in the program. Brilliant! It falls apart, as you can see above, if you have a black sidebar, but other than that, this is the most visually pleasing way to edit a blog I have ever seen.
The Normal View is the straight up simplest way to edit. It is fast, responsive, and lets you do your work.
Posting embedded videos is strange, since you need to switch to HTML code view or the program will attempt to format your code, but afterwards you can see the embedded object in your post as your write it.
Then, when you are done, you can hit the Web Preview view to see the post, as it will appear in your blog, with all blog formatting and sidebars intact.
Writer also lets you post a Windows Live Local map in your blog post. Here’s what that looks like:
Also, from the team blog post:
Writer makes inserting, customizing, and uploading photos to your blog a snap. You can insert a photo into your post by browsing image thumbnails through the â€œInsert Pictureâ€ dialog or by copying and pasting from a web page.
Once youâ€™ve inserted the picture, Writer provides contextual editing tools to modify size, text wrapping, borders, and apply graphic effects. Writer also allows you specify a smaller thumbnail to that will link to a larger image for detailed viewing.
Photos can be either uploaded directly to your weblog provider (if they support the newMediaObject API) or to an FTP server.
I’d like to say more, but I’m heading to a wedding. This wasn’t supposed to go public till tomorrow night, but the Inside Live blog broke embargo, screwing up all of us who were trying to prepare our coverage. And yes, you deserve to be called out when you break embargo, and yes, you don’t get a live link (http://www.inside-live.com/?p=83).
Here’s Miel’s coverage. And here’s Jason’s look at it.
UPDATE: I should note that I completely glossed over the unbelievable image formatting options. Read about them at LiveSide.