As everyone already knows the Windows Live Essentials Wave 4 Public Beta was released last week after a much anticipated build up of both leaked and official information.

I live and breathe Windows Live Writer (WLW) because it is the program I use to write every post on this website.  That also means it is the one Wave 4 program I have really been able to build an opinion about and I want to share those thoughts and observations with you and find out how your experiencing this new version of WLW.

These are not in any particular order of importance, severity, etc. It is just as they come from my notepad to the screen.

  1. Muscle Memory.  As you get used to a program and moving to certain points on the screen to access a tool/feature that movement becomes natural and instinctive.  A lot of things have been moved around in the WLW Wave 4 interface with the introduction of the ribbon and my muscle memory is having to re-learn actions to get to various features.  This in and of itself is not a problem but just an inconvenience as I get used to it.
  2. More clicks to do the same actions.  This is somewhat related to #1 above in that the ribbon has tabs and those tabs are broken down into three areas Home, Insert, Blog Account.

    Each of these tabs contain further commands based on the category of the tab. In the previous version of WLW all of the commands were accessible on a sidebar or via the main toolbar at the top of the program window. Now it takes more clicks to get to the commands your looking for. 

  3. This one is related to #2 in that the ribbons in WLW are not customizable like they are in Office.  That is a shame because I could set up a ribbon tab that would contain all of my favorite actions and then I would not have to be clicking 2-3 levels deeper to get at them.  In order to cut a click or two out of the sequence I have opted to use the Quick Access Toolbar to grab my favorite commands and make them available at all times. Just right click on a ribbon underneath the command you would like to add to the Quick Access Toolbar and you can add it to the toolbar.


    It is not the perfect solution and there are still extra clicks to get at the same functions but it at least eliminates one or two depending on the command I want to use.  Maybe we will get the ability to customize the ribbons in an update to the beta or a future version.  The functionality is in Office so I would hope it could be easily ported over to these Live Essentials programs.

  4. Watermarks.  Anyone who runs a website has likely suffered from another site that scrapes your content to display on their own ad jammed webpage.  Most of the time it is all automated with the use of RSS feeds.  I know in the times I have been hit with this they take it one step further and also serve the graphics from my server!  Well WLW has a watermark feature I discovered in this version that I must have missed it in the previous version since it was apparently there.  Actually it was in the Advanced menu in the old version which I rarely opened and in the Wave 4 version it is right there on the ribbon when you are working with graphics.

    This really makes watermarking easy – no more editing graphics to lay down that watermark. Nice find!

I think this update heads in the right direction in many areas such as the ribbon being introduced which, for me anyway, did its job of exposing commands that I was previously unaware of.  The same ribbon adds more clicks to my work though so that is a two sided issue.

I am a fan of WLW no matter what because it has made writing for this site so much more efficient that I am willing to deal with some inconveniences and learn a few new tricks myself to keep using it.

I am looking forward to hearing what features of the new WLW Wave 4 has impacted you the most.  Let us know in the comments.