Microsoft Continues Open Source Move with Live Writer

Gavin Phillips 12-12-2015

Many users regarded the original Windows Live Writer as one of the best programs Microsoft ever built. Sadly, it hasn’t been updated since August 2012. Turns out this wasn’t its death knell after all.


Microsoft recently announced that they turned over control of the Windows Live Writer application to the .NET Foundation, where it has become Open Live Writer. The new application will be open source How to Find Open Source Software for Windows Are you concerned about privacy, data security, or malicious code hidden in your software? With proprietary software, you just never really know what the program is doing with your data. Open source is the answer! Read More , based upon a fork Open Source Software and Forking: The Good, The Great and The Ugly Sometimes, the end-user benefits greatly from forks. Sometimes, the fork is done under a shroud of anger, hatred and animosity. Let's look at some examples. Read More of Windows Live Writer, and will enable users to author, edit, and publish their work 4 Quick Ways to Write & Publish Books on the Web It's easier than ever to convert your words into a published book. These innovative tools are enabling authors to take their ideas beyond the print-on-demand kind of self-publishing. Read More .

A Brief History of Windows Live Writer

At the time, circa-2005, Onfolio Writer was one of the most popular WYSIWYG blogging platforms around. In 2006, Microsoft purchased Onfolio, acquiring Onfolio Writer in the process, keeping most of the original developers on-board, and ultimately oversaw the transition of Onfolio Writer into Windows Live Writer Windows Live Writer: The Easiest Way To Blog, Right From Your Desktop There is something nice about being able to blog from your desktop and simply clicking “submit” and then having it appear on your blog. Of course since you are creating it locally on your computer... Read More . Microsoft initially envisioned a multi-purpose content creation tool, linking between major web services and allowing its users to upload their written work around the world.

Open Live Writer new document

Despite the lack of continued development, and the absence of all but occasional security updates, Windows Live Writer continues to feature highly in blog authoring application lists 4 Alternatives to Windows Live Writer for Blogging Microsoft recently announced the end of the Windows Live brand. In response to concerns, all Microsoft is saying about Windows Live Writer is it will “work great on Windows 8” – not whether development is... Read More .

Open Live Writer

From those beginnings comes latest iteration Open Live Writer, a new open source version. Microsoft Principle Program and Community Manager, Scott Hanselman, wrote on his personal blog:


“If you’re willing to put up with some bugs, then join us in this brave new world, you can download Open Live Writer…We’re calling today’s release version 0.5.”

“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 piece 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. Persistence pays off.”

Open Live Writer has made a number of changes to the original code. The updated open source version has:

  • Removed: Spell Checking How To Spell Check A Document Without A Word Processor Still copying text into Word so you can check your spelling? Stop. It's 2013, and spell check is built into everything from browsers to PDF readers. Read More . The iteration included with Windows Live Writer was completely outdated, and used a third-party spell checker that doesn’t have an open source license.
  • Removed: The “Blog This” API. As an older plugin, designed for older versions of Internet Explorer and Firefox, the code was considered a “mess of old COM stuff.”
  • Removed: Albums. This feature uploaded photos to OneDrive, but used a library packaged with Windows Live Mail and Live Messenger. Unfortunately, this library isn’t open source, and the Open Live Writer team haven’t yet managed to coax permission to distribute it in an open source project.
  • COMING SOON: Windows Live Writer was chugging away on the widely-used Blogger blog service, though this service is coming to an end. The Google-ran service was kept alive until Open Live Writer could ship, and as that time has arrived, Google and Blogger will soon shut down the older authentication system. Both the Blogger service and Open Live Writer will switch to the more modern OAuth 2 to offer you more security.
  • COMING SOON: The Open Live Writer team is working on bringing a full spectrum of plugins over from Windows Live Writer, though it could take some time to update your personal favorite. If this of interest to you, please add you opinions to this form, and you can shape the future of Windows Live Writer plugins for your fellow bloggers.

Open Live Writer nice comment

What Is It Like?

If you’ve never used it, I suggest you download the open source application and have a good poke around. It is not a difficult application to learn how to use, and you can be signed into your blog, up and writing within minutes. The UI remains roughly the same, which gives the application a distinctly old-ish feel – think Office 2010 3 Ways To Make Office 2013 More Like Office 2010 A few months ago, I had a great opportunity to get a drastically discounted copy of Microsoft Office. When I went to purchase the product, I assumed it would be Office 2010, but I was... Read More – but the ease of use, one of the most important features of Windows Live Writer, has successfully made the transition to open source.

Open Live Writer Add Blog


The appeal of Windows Live Writer lay in its range of blogging support: WordPress, Blogger Blogger vs. A Complete Comparison The two undisputed kings of the free blogging sphere are Google's Blogger and the content management system-turned-host While both offer what every free-thinking democracy-guzzling thought-cannon wants – a place to express themselves – there... Read More , TypePad, and plenty more services Keep It Simple, Stupid: 7 No-Fuss Online Tools For The Lazy Blogger No complicated online setups. No plugin management. No hosting costs. If you're looking for a fast, easy, and free way to get started blogging, check out these platforms. Read More can all be happily connected too, worked upon, and uploaded to. This hasn’t changed, and we would expect more services to arrive on Open Live Writer as time drips by.

One slight downside comes amongst talk of ongoing support for older systems. While the Open Live Writer Team can happily support their application on Window 10, the group said “We hope to support Windows 7 Microsoft Retires Windows 7: This Is How You Can Still Get A Copy Windows 7 Home and Ultimate editions have been retired. If you want to get a computer without Windows 8.1, your options are limited. We have compiled them for you. Read More and Windows 8 How to Get Windows 10 for Free or Cheap Windows is expensive. Here's how to buy a Windows product key cheaply or get a license for free legally without breaking the bank. Read More for a while at least,” which, while far from a definitive ending, doesn’t sound entirely fantastic for users on those operating systems.

Microsoft Embraces Open Source

Many authors will be excited by the re-release of Windows Live Writer as an open source application. Live Writer has always supported a wide range of blogging services and the new iteration is set to be no different. The arrival of plugins will certainly increase the mass appeal, and as the project is now open source Understanding How Open Source Software Developers Make Money The truth is: many OSS developers and projects do generate revenue. Read More there is sure to be a growing community of ideas Why Do People Contribute to Open Source Projects? Open source development is the future of software. It's great for users because open source software is usually available gratis and often safer to use. But what compels developers to contribute code for free? Read More , guides, help, and activity.

What’s more though, is that Microsoft continues transferring once proprietary code to open source How Microsoft's Move Into Open Source Is Affecting You Microsoft is radically changing its culture. Open sourcing is a hallmark of this transformation and it benefits coders and consumers alike. We explain why you should care. Read More . This is remarkable, given their history of antagonizing the open source movement under former CEO Steve Ballmer. In the case of Live Writer, rather than trashing an unprofitable software, Microsoft has gone out of its way to make it open source and please its users. What’s next?


Are you excited about Open Live Writer? Which other Microsoft application should be open sourced? If you had to predict what they will open source next, what would be your best guess?

Related topics: Blogging, Open Source, Windows Live Writer.

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  1. Sheri Elias
    August 24, 2017 at 3:34 am


  2. Jean McKinstry
    December 30, 2015 at 6:02 pm

    I like the new version, but with Spell Check, would be even better, The gap was a worry, so I got around that by doing my blog in word, saved, copied and pasted into blogger. I do not like the limitations of fonts in blogger, and prefer to do any post offline. Thanks for all your hard work, I am sure there has been so much we are not aware off, and to the team at Open Live Writer, Happy New Year Greetings to you all. Jean, down in NZ, and at All Points of the Compass, my blog.

  3. Marcel Kuemmet
    December 16, 2015 at 5:59 am

    I wish I could sign up to be notified if and when the code is up.

  4. Eddie G.
    December 15, 2015 at 4:15 am

    Not sure I'm willing to believe that the great monolithic Microsoft all-of-a-sudden has found a new found love for open source. I'm thinking there might be an ulterior motive, and I think Linux users and those who use open source software should be wary of anything Microsoft is pushing to the open source community

  5. Joebanana
    December 13, 2015 at 4:25 pm

    Anything microsoft produces is garbage.

    • Gavin
      December 13, 2015 at 5:56 pm

      I would disagree, but they do have a coloured track record with buggy software releases.

  6. John Willis
    December 13, 2015 at 2:04 am

    Just be aware that 12-11-2015 through 12-12-2015 Google switches off the Microsoft Live Writer authentication. Meaning the old Microsoft Live Writer will not let you logon to your Blogger website to edit. [And] the new Open Live Writer "as of" 12-12-2015 still does not let you use the "new" Google mandated and forced "upgrade" to Oauth2, because the code for using Oauth2 has not been written yet. So [both] Microsoft Live Writer and Open Live Writer can not logon to a Blogger website as of 12-12-2015.. thanks Google for making it so confusing and unhelpful.

    • Gavin
      December 13, 2015 at 5:55 pm

      Thanks Joe, I didn't know there was a gap - I would of thought they might have worked together to sort those dates!