Sometimes Microsoft creates a piece of software that doesn’t necessarily catch on with the general public but still wins over a dedicated core of users. Typically these programs die a long, slow death, but one such program will live on. Microsoft recently decided to open source Windows Live Writer, the blog writing software that the company ceased developing in 2012.
The program has been renamed Open Live Writer and you can download version 0.5 from the project’s dedicated site. The software will now be under the auspices of the .NET Foundation, an open source software organization founded by Microsoft in 2014. Open Live Writer itself will be maintained by volunteers, including a core group from Microsoft.
If you’re a longtime Live Writer user and would like to try OLW out, you can run the new program alongside Live Writer without replacing the older software. That allows you to test out the new version, while still being able to return to the old version if a feature is missing or any bugs drive you crazy.
Why this matters: Live Writer is one of those programs you probably never heard of unless you used it. Those who did use the software really liked it as a way to write a blog post on the desktop and seamlessly upload it to their blogging service. It’s great to see Microsoft allow a program with a core group of users to go open source since it didn’t have any plans to develop it further. It seems unlikely that this foreshadows future open source projects for similarly beloved software like Windows Media Center or Windows Home Server, but it’s a nice gesture nonetheless.
Spot the differences
Although OLW is pulled directly from Live Writer code there are already a few differences between the two programs. The spell checker is gone, since it was old and built by a third-party that the OLW group didn’t have a license for, according to a post on Microsoft program manager Scott Hanselman’s personal site. Other removed features include the Blog This API used by Live Writer browser plugins, and the Albums feature that uploaded photos to OneDrive.
As far as upcoming features, the OLW team plans to integrate the Windows built-in spell çheck that first appeared in Windows 8—Hanselman says OLW on Windows 7 will probably never have spell check. The team also plans to add OAuth 2 support very soon so that Blogger users will be able to use OLW. Google currently allows OLW and LW to use an older authentication system for Blogger that will soon be shut down. Any Blogger user who wants to continue to use Live Writer will eventually need to switch to OLW.
Lastly, the group is working on supporting plugins for OLW.