Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Fear in the blogosphere: Microsoft hunts again

I suspect there are a few young techies who do not fear Microsoft. They don't remember when Gates et al pillaged the landscape, sowing salt on the burning embers of resistant villages, conquering with ruthless power and endless treachery. I confess, I have contributed to a false sense of security by pointing out how incompetent Microsoft has been in the past few years.

It is time for me to right my wrong. Microsoft hunts again.

There is only one good tool on any platform for efficient blogging in both Google's Blogger and the open source Community Server (metaweblog API) environment, and it's Microsoft product - Windows Live Writer. I've tried all the rest, they don't compare. [See Update!]

Live Writer only works with IE. It only works with Windows. Yes, there's a Firefox plug-in for Live Writer. It broke long ago, and, oddly enough, it's never been updated.

BlogJet was very good in version 2.x, but version 3.x is a mess. Scribefire is very minimalist and just broke with Firefox 2.03. One the Mac side Mars Edit and Ecto aren't even in the race -- they assume that all writing is done from a single machine. They can't properly handle fetching and editing past posts. They are also updated slowly if at all -- I could go on. They are goners.

Google's integrated "BlogThis!" bookmarklet hasn't been updated to support Blogger 2.0's tags and it's slow, quirky, and underfeatured (Blogger 2.0, btw, is a vast improvement over Blogger 1.0).

So Microsoft has a free tool that is vastly better than anything else, it only works with IE/Windows, and it's smack in the middle of a strategic market. Wow, doesn't this feel familiar?

Is anyone awake out there? Have all the geeks been lulled to sleep by Microsoft's seeming incompetence over the past few years? Where's Google anyway? What happened to all those Firefox development efforts? Is Apple trying to ignore the blogging world? (Anyone remember the transient blogging tool once bundled with new Macs?)

All is not lost. Sharepoint 2007's blogging support is miserable, and Microsoft has invested a lot in Sharepoint. Maybe the Sharepoint team will end up destroying Live Writer. I know I'm rooting for them, because as much as I like Live Writer, I've seen this movie before ...

[1] Update 1/5/09: Thanks to very helpful comments on this post I have learned that Adobe Contribute for OS X and Windows (list $170) will work with Blogger and other standards compliant platforms. It's very expensive and suffers from being an Adobe product (they don't seem to understand how to install OS X software) but I'll try to get a look at it.


Xanadu said...

Have you tried Adobe Contribute? (Yes, I know it costs money...)

JGF said...

I don't think Contribute can be a Blogger or Sharepoint client -- it's a funny app but no competition for WLW.

There is an OS X version though, as you suggest.

Anonymous said...

Do you mean to say that it's not very useful as a Blogger client? Because Blogger is definitely one of the options offered when I launch it - haven't tried it though. It also seems to support any MetaWeblog-compatible blog out there.

JGF said...

Neat! Looks like I was wrong (not the first time). I'll append a comment to my post and take a look at Contribute.

Anonymous said...

Well it is not very obvious - Adobe doesn't even mention it on their product page! I read about it at http://www.talkingtree.com/blog/index.cfm/2006/10/5/Adobe-Contribute-4-Supports-Blogging .

JGF said...

I feel better about missing it then. I wonder how serious Adobe is about the product, that's rather a large feature to fail to market.