On August 7, 2012, Microsoft released an update for Windows Live Writer. Well, it really wasn’t much of an update. In fact, it is still unclear if Microsoft will continue any major development on their Windows Live Writer platform.
Although a certain amount of prejudice against Microsoft products urged me to resist using Live Writer when it was first made available (near the end of 2008), I quickly warmed to the app as a frontend to WordPress, which, at the time seemed to place a few too many obstacles between developing content and getting the final result to look as I intended. Live Writer, on the other hand, achieved the WYSIWYG goal immediately, leaving the content and creativity up to me. It was hard not to be hooked.
Now that Writer’s development days may or may not be numbered, I face the onerous task of finding an alternative. From my research, I think I’ve discovered a few contenders to Windows Live Writer; all of which have distinct pros and cons.
1. Microsoft Word
No, really. You can post to a blog directly from Word using the “Publish to Blog” option. The integration with WordPress is tight enough to upload photos directly to the Gallery, and formatting is (usually) preserved. Because of the many extra features and applications, it’s not as uniquely suited to blogging as Writer, but the elements are the same, and chances are you already have plenty of familiarity with the software.
Yes, the same CMS that drove you to look for a client frontend in 2008. I was dubious about going back to WP, but pleasantly surprised to discover that the developers had made great strides toward streamlined usability. And, of course, there are even more useful widgets and themes than ever. Cons: I still have issues with blogs not turning out quite how they look in the so-called WYSIWYG editor, but my CSS skills have improved as a result. This is one of the best Windows live writer alternative.
A no-nonsense offline blogging platform with a clean, Spartan design. Although it looks a bit dated, all of the features that you need are built into a WYSIWYG editor that even your grandpa could use. It’s quite intuitive and absolutely distraction-free, allowing you to focus on content. The built-in dictionaries can be helpful too. Cons: going from Windows Live Writer to BlogDesk feels like going from Windows 7 to Windows 95. Don’t let your cutting-edge friends see you using this one.
4. Zoundry Raven
Open-source means that it’s constantly getting better, and you’ll appreciate the intuitive and (mostly) polished desktop client design. Media Storage integration is useful, allowing you to connect to FTP (for some, an essential feature of Live Writer) or image hosting services. Although connecting it to the corresponding repository in WordPress can be hit-or-miss. The WYSIWYG is on par with WordPress (i.e., every once in awhile you may have to tweak after publishing). Great for multiple blogs, and even runs from a portable USB drive.
Great idea; a split screen plug-in for Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera that lets you compose in your browser without constantly flipping back and forth between browser tabs or separate windows. Because it’s browser-based, it will work with almost any OS. If you use the Zemanta WP plugin (or Google Docs’ similar Research tool), you’ll be glad to hear that Zemanta is integrated into ScribeFire as well. If you absolutely need a desktop client, keep looking, but otherwise I heartily recommend trying out ScribeFire.
I’m tempted to say that this would be the perfect Live Writer alternative, if only it didn’t cost $40. But that’s not really doing the desktop client justice; it’s a powerful and polished frontend with Flickr and YouTube account integration and all sorts of other useful features; some of which even improve on Live Writer. Try the free download and see how much you like it.
7. Ecto (Mac only)
One of the most powerful Live Writer alternatives on this list for Mac OS X. Apple aficionados will adore Ecto’s native support for iTunes/iPhoto, and Amazon members will appreciate built-in integration. Cons: I’m not sure if development is continuing or not; there haven’t been updates in a while. I’m also not a big fan of paying for features that Live Writer gave me for free, but Apple users are obviously used to spending money; and to be fair, $20 isn’t bad for all that you get.
8. MarsEdit (Windows live writer alternative for Mac only)
For an even more expensive Mac-only solution, the $40 MarsEdit seems slightly less feature-packed than Ecto, although it’s definitely been updated more recently. The iPhoto integration is even tighter, and as a whole it seems slightly more suited than Ecto to workflow and productivity within the Mac environment. I’d recommend giving both Mac desktop clients a try and seeing which fits your needs. This is the best Windows live writer alternative for Mac.
For the time being, I’m sticking with Writer as long as possible. However, it’s reassuring to know that there are a number of choices to fall back on if Microsoft ever decides to completely pull the plug. If that happens, I may decide simply to stick with WordPress.
I always get the feeling that any problem that I have with the editor is simply my own lack of familiarity. But should I find myself stressing over details and distractions instead of content productivity, this list provides more than enough choice.