Monday Feb 23, 2009

Live Writer 2 (Installation)

This is part two of my series on Windows Live Writer by Microsoft.  It is part of an ongoing moderately comprehensive tutorial set for Live Writer.  In part one I gave a detailed overview of what the program was and what it does, specifications and so on.  In that light I present the second part of my Live Writer series, pertaining the installation and setting up of the program.   The next post will run through the basics of using Live Writer to publish a blog post.

 

 

Live Writer has good and bad points on its installation in my view.  To be honest its installation annoys me more than anything else about it.  But not to throw beginners off.  Its clunky in its way, cumbersome but very simple and not that much to click through or change.

To begin you seem to have two choices: 1) download the Windows Live Suite or 2) the Windows Live Writer file directly.  Wrong, the Live Writer file will only download the same file.  Windows Live comes as a package.  The first download is an installer program.  This program will download and install the selected parts and programs from the internet.  The initial program downloads very quickly but in the end of the day its not Writer at all.  Instead a program that will download it.

A way around all this is on the download page.  Press the try again button and the entire package is downloaded as one file, easier for some connections.  But there are reasons not to do this as I will show below.

The package that is Windows Live includes the following programs: Family Safety, Messenger, Mail, Photo Gallery, Toolbar, Writer, Silverlight, Movie Maker Beta.  Basically you click on all of items you wish to install.  It is a very big package and the more you include the longer it will take.  After installing it on three systems each time it took me well over an hour.  Once the installation kept cutting out.  That is the reason that, if possible, the standalone installer, as mentioned above, should be avoided.  If the install is restarted it continues from where it last left off.  Which is quite helpful.

Another thing to keep in mind, in this day and age programs update themselves and come out with new versions every few months.  Normally when a program updates itself it goes on in the background or takes a minute to fix itself up in a small continual bursts.  Not so Windows Live.  Just last month I was asked to upgrade Writer, reasonable, but downloading and upgrading every program the Live Suite offers takes a lot of time and hassle.

As I said earlier though, once begun you can sit back and let the program do all the work, until the end there is no need for decisions – which in this kind of stream lined program is good I feel. (Read Bradbury for ideas on smart software.)  You are presented with a number of options after your programs have been installed.  Such as setting your homepage to msn, helping to improve windows live, set Microsoft search as your internet search provider and sending bug reports.  Helping to improve windows live will send non-confidential information about how you use their programs to Microsoft.  In theory they can then improve on what people use, sending bug reports is automatic as well and tells Microsoft what is going wrong with their programs.  Setting your search to MSN has a strange guard feature.  Some programs have an automatic restart to search with one provider – Yahoo, Google, MSN.  This guard allows you in theory to change to Microsoft without the program undoing it.  You can undo it yourself if you go into your settings.

Once clicked through that is it.  All that remains is to start Live Writer.  If you click your Start or Windows key in the corner, enter “All Programs”, near the bottom should be a folder named Windows Live and all of your new programs reside in there.  Including Writer.  Start her up and all needed is to sign into your blog.

Not got one yet?  Don’t worry!  This is one of the real beauties of Live Writer.  If you have a hotmail account, windows live or msn email address or messenger account you can use that to sign in and create a “Windows Live Space” and your blog will automatically be posted up there.  With absolutely nothing needed for you to do.

Of course it will be very plain.  But in time if you are happy with this you can go into Windows Live Spaces in your internet browser and adapt the themes and look to your own taste.  If you continue to use Writer, as I do, your theme will remain on.  And further by pressing the preview button you can see it applied in action.

To summarise on the good, its quick to download a large selection or programs and with minimum effort.  No hassle involved with setting up or installing the programs.  They are ready for use straight away.  Setting up your first blog is nearly automatic it is that easy.  On the bad points to download the whole suite takes an inordinate amount of time, which is done with every new version.  The lack of settings and places to install the software can be massively inconvenient for power users.  The download tool is a nuisance as well, having to click to download a file only to find out its only going to download the real file is a serious pain.  On the whole though it avoids a lot of confusion that normally installations can cause.

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