It's alive! Microsoft to let Live Writer live on as open source

Microsoft will breathe life into Windows Live Writer by open sourcing the eight-year-old blog-publishing tool, a company manager said earlier this week.

"We are going to open-source Live Writer, so don't worry," tweeted Scott Hanselman, a principal program and community manager for Microsoft. Hanselman, who has long advocated taking Live Writer open-source, was responding to a question about the future of Live Writer in Windows 10.

The application debuted in 2007 alongside Windows Vista, and was part of Windows Live Essentials, a bundle that included several now-defunct programs, such as Mail, Messenger, Movie Maker, Photo Gallery and SkyDrive. Live Writer was last updated in 2012, shortly after Microsoft retired the Live brand.

But Live Writer -- a what-you-see-is-what-you-get tool for writing and posting blogs to a plethora of platforms, including Blogger and WordPress -- has retained a devoted and vocal cadre of followers.

So devoted, in fact, that in 2012 Scott Lovegrove, then a Windows Live MVP -- for Most Valuable Professional, a title Microsoft bestows on people who contribute to its various technical communities -- launched an online petition drive to save the program.

Lovegrove, now an independent Windows and Windows Phone developer who contracts with Microsoft, was happy to hear that Live Writer would survive.

"I think it was the best decision for the product, especially given the lack of any real alternatives that do what it does as well as it does," Lovegrove said in an email reply to questions. "I think it's come at the right time for Microsoft to get this project open sourced, as they do seem to be actively embracing the open source community, which is great."

In his 2012 online petition, which topped out at just over 1,000 "signatures," Lovegrove urged Microsoft to either craft a "Modern," née "Metro" Live Writer app for Windows 8, or open-source the code.

Lovegrove declined to take credit for Microsoft's decision. "This was all down to my namesake [Scott Hanselman] in the U.S., and the guys who are doing their best to bring it to the open source community," he wrote. Lovegrove said he plans on contributing to the Live Writer open-source project, but isn't sure how. In the past, Lovegrove had written several popular Live Writer plug-ins to help WordPress bloggers build and maintain their sites.

Although Live Writer is ancient by software standards, it deserved to live on, Lovegrove argued, saying that the application remains useful. Taking it open-source will ensure it can keep up.

"There's nothing to say that WordPress may not change how their blogs work, which could render [Live Writer] useless, [but] at least now there's opportunity for the product to remain working, even if something external changes," Lovegrove said.

Writer's 2012 edition can still be downloaded from Microsoft's website as part of Windows Essentials.


Gregg Keizer

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