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Microsoft's popular blogging tool Windows Live Writer is now open source

Microsoft's popular blogging tool Windows Live Writer is now open source

One of the best free programs Microsoft ever built when it comes to blogging was Windows Live Writer (WLW).

This popular WYSIWYG offline blogging tool was based on Onfolio Writer which was a product Microsoft acquired when they bought Onfolio in February 2006.

The reason WLW was a mainstay for bloggers everywhere is the support it provided for a wide arary of blogging systems/networks such as WordPress, Blogger, SharePoint, TypePad, Windows Live Spaces and others.

In addition, a very robust plugin community grew around WLW as well to provide enhanced features and capabilities to the tool.

However, it has been sometime now since WLW has been updated and that happened with the last official release on 07 August 2012. It was part of the Windows Essentials 2012 suite of software that also included Movie Maker, Photo Gallery, Mail, OneDrive and Family Safety.

I continue to use that release version of WLW with my WordPress blog and it works great despite the time that has elapsed since its last update.

Well today's news gives WLW a fresh lease on life as open source software. That means the opportunity is once again available to build a robust community around the software and see it thrive.

It is a journey that has been in the works for more than two years and was spearheaded by an independent group of volunteers within Microsoft​ and a long list of external volunteers whom have forked our beloved Windows Live Writer to Open Live Writer (OLW).

There is already a roadmap for the future of OLW and a list of what has taken place so far with OLW:

REMOVED: Spell Checking. The implementation was super old and used a 3rd party spell checker we didn't have a license to include an open source release. Going forward we will add Spell Check using the built-in spell checker that was added in Windows 8. Open Live Writer on Windows 7 probably won't have spell check.

REMOVED: The Blog This API. It was a plugin to Internet Explorer and Firefox and was a mess of old COM stuff.

REMOVED: The "Albums" feature. It uploaded photos to OneDrive but depended on a library that was packaged with Windows Live Mail and Live Messenger and we couldn't easily get permission to distribute it in an open source project.

ADDING VERY SOON: Google runs the excellent Blogger blog service. We've worked with the Blogger Team within Google on this project, and they've been kind enough to keep an older authentication endpoint running for many months while we work on Open Live Writer. Soon, Google and Blogger will finally shut down this older authentication system. Blogger will use the more modern OAuth 2 and Open Live Writer will be updated to support OAuth 2. Windows Live Writer will never support this new OAuth 2 authentication system, so if you use Blogger, you'll need to use Open Live Writer.

BROKEN/KNOWN ISSUES: We are actively working on supporting Plugins. We have an plan in place and we are looking for your feedback on the most popular plugins that you want brought over from the Windows Live Writer ecosystem.

Scott Hanselman, who broke the open source news on his personal website, reminds everyone that OLW is not a Microsoft product even though it is worked on by some Microsoft employees in their off time.

If you are a current/past user of WLW then you are encouraged to download OLW and start using it to help improve the product and provide bug reports. For those of you who might be developers, designers or writers you are also invited to join the effort.

As for moving forward, Hanselman adds:

I know it felt like it took a long time to open source Open Live Writer. In fact, my buddy John Gallant found the first email where we started asking questions in April of 2013. There was a lot involved both legally and technically as we were breaking new ground for Microsoft. Consider this. We've successfully open sourced a previously completely proprietary peace of Windows software that shipped as part of Windows Live Essentials. This software was used by millions and contained code as old as a decade or more.

Exciting times for sure.

Who will be joining the Open Live Writer Community?

But, wait...there's probably more so be sure to follow me on Twitter and Google+.

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