Google, insofar, seems to be the king of the Web 2.0 space. There are other players in this arena ranging from Google's search Rivals Yahoo to newer startups like YouTube, Digg, Technorati, et al. The only key player seemingly not making big strides into this new world is Microsoft. Yet, while they are playing their Web 2.0 stuff closer to the vest and not promoting it with a lot of hoopla, they are definitely making great strides in developing products under the radar. Case in point - the tool that I am using to write this entry - Windows Live Writer.
This small little tool has been in beta for a few weeks now and is available for download at Microsoft's Live Ideas site. I have been using this little tool, and so far I am loving it, primarily for one key feature- it gives me a WYSIWYG way to create and edit blog entries while offline.
Up until using Windows Live Writer, I would either need to edit my blog online or edit it offline with word or a text editor. Yes, there is a plug-in for Word that allows you to post postings to Blogger, but that still didn't give me a good way to see what my posts would look like when uploaded.
Windows Live Writer on the other hand, downloads my posting templates and style sheets so when I edit, I can see (even offline) what my posts will look like exactly on my blog. It also makes it easier by providing drag and drop uploads of pictures and allows me to easily insert 'Tags' for meta blog sites.
I also have the option to save entries locally, as drafts on my blog site, or publish them immediately. It also has built-in spellchecking that is, IMHO, much better than so of the other lackluster tools that are part of blogging sites and/or web toolbars.
And you might be thinking that because this is Microsoft, it will only work with Microsoft Live Spaces blogs - but you'd be dead wrong. Microsoft finally learned that it's software needs to play nice with others to gain acceptance. So it decided to utilize standardized blogging apis to enable you to use Windows Live Writer to post to blogs on TypePad, LiveJournal, MoveableType, Blogger and other Blogging services (I have been using it with much success with all of my Blogger Blogs, however, I have not yet checked against the new Blogger Beta version).
Windows Live Writer is a great little tool that will only get better with time. Download it and see for yourself.