Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Chaos at Microsoft: the story of Windows Live Toolbar, Onfolio and Writer

Microsoft, or at least significant parts of it, must be in panic mode. There’s no other way I can explain all the mess around Windows Live Toolbar, the newly acquired Onfolio RSS client toolbar plug-in, the formerly Microsoft Gadgets that are now supposed to be in Windows Live Gallery (good luck getting that site to load) and Windows Live Writer.

What a mess. Bad links. Missing documentation. Vanishing sites. No update notification. It’s a bleedin’ impenetrable mess.

The odd thing is, I actually like and use these tools extensively. The Windows Live Toolbar brings tabs, pop-up blocking and form completion to IE (I omit the full text search tools, they’re another story). The Onfolio RSS client, which I somehow got before it vanished, is the best RSS client/reader for Windows. Free too. Windows Live Writer, despite some beta issues (beware the windows that fall behind IE!) is an excellent free authoring client. Sure Live Toolbar seemed to kill my Google Toolbar (dueling pop-up blockers for one), but it was easy to set Live Toolbar to use Google for searching. (Microsoft’s Live Search is toast.)

With this suite of blogging tools Microsof is actually very competitive. In terms of authoring they’re now ahead of what’s available on OS X. (XP has two good low cost authoring tools — BlogJet and LiveWriter. OS X has nothing that works for me on Blogger.)

So why the panic and chaos?

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