Microsoft blog tool goes into beta

A new desktop application from Microsoft lets bloggers see the look of a blog posting before uploading it online.

A new desktop application from Microsoft, now in beta, lets bloggers see the look of a blog posting before uploading it online.

The program, called Windows Live Writer, doesn't require HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) programming knowledge. Advanced users, however, can still tap into the HTML to make adjustments.

Live Writer is compatible with Microsoft's Live Spaces and other blogging services including Blogger, Live Journal, TypePad and WordPress.

Microsoft announced the beta Friday, stressing that Live Writer saves users from uploading material to a blogging site and then having to make revisions to the design. The program has the feel of a word processing program.

During the setup, Live Writer asks for login, password and Web site address, then imports the site's preferences. The program displays blog content in the same form as it appears on the Web, including the same fonts, styles and backgrounds.

Live Writer has simple tools to adjust photos. Maps -- taken from Microsoft's Live Local mapping service -- can also be inserted into posts. Once finished, the "publish" button posts new material.

The program could also potentially remove some blogging frustrations, such as when a blogging service logs off a user before a post is finished, losing the material.

The free program can be downloaded from http://windowslivewriter.spaces.live.com/.

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