Windows Live WriterThe Windows Live Writer team just posted the Beta 2 which is now available for you to download. It has a handsome list of new features, but nothing I hadn’t really seen in a blog editor before:

  • Inline spell checking
  • Table editing
  • Ability to add categories
  • Page authoring for WordPress and TypePad
  • Support for excerpts and extended entries
  • Improved hyperlinking and image insertion
  • Paste Special
  • Automatic synchronization of local and online edits
  • Integration with Windows Live Gallery
  • Support for Blogger Labels
  • New look and feel
  • Available in 6 languages
  • Improved accessibility and keyboard support

My first impression of the new Live Writer was…wow! It looks amazing, and if appearance counts for anything it blows the other blog editors out of the water. It is sharp, sophisticated, and most of all, usable.

Windows Live Writer
Click to Enlarge

The inline spell checking and table manager are awesome features that will surely come in handy. Unfortunately it still doesn’t appear to support the XHTML standards, but I’m sure many of the Live Writer users don’t know what that is.

I played with it a little more, and two things I thought you might like to see is the appearance of the right-click menu for the spell checker, and what you can actually do with the tables. Here are two screenshots that will sum that up well:

Windows Live Writer Windows Live Writer

When creating the table, it asks you for all of the basic information just as if you were creating it in a word processor:

Windows Live Writer

As you can see there are a lot of great things available with the new Live Writer, and you should consider giving it a shot. Personally, I’m a huge fan of Post2Blog which coincidentally turned to freeware the other day. It is a great application that has a ton of features, but I would have to say that Live Writer looks better and is a little simpler to use.

So what’s it missing? Despite Live Writer supporting plug-ins, I still think there are some things that should be built-in. Some of these things might be available via a plug-in, but this is what I would like to see Live Writer shipped with:

  • XHTML standards compliance
  • Table options (a.k.a. the stuff from the Table Menu) should open in the sidebar like they do when you click on an image.
  • Customize the order of the categories (I don’t know of any blogging software that does this though).
  • Enable Auto-saving by default. I don’t know who wouldn’t like the assurance that their documents are constantly being saved?
  • Align buttons! If I want to center some text, I shouldn’t be going to the Format -> Align menu. That takes way to long. There should be buttons to do this. Also, what about the shortcut keys for aligning things, such as Ctrl+E for centering?
  • I’m not sure about this one, but maybe make the sidebar expand/contract when you hover over it? That way it saves space and is still extremely easy to get to.
  • I would like to create snippets as well. That way some of the repetitive things aren’t so…well, repetitive. This is great for people who guest blog and always conclude each post with a short summary of who they are.