Windows Live Writer is a new tool from Microsoft that allows you to publish to your blog using a desktop client. While the software is integrated with Windows Live Spaces, you can also use it with Blogger, LiveJournal, TypePad, WordPress.
What's nice about Windows Live Writer is that it reads your blog's template and it lets you preview your content while creating it. It's like seeing your blog post growing.
The rich-text editor is not impressing, as it contains the usual elements and doesn't produce clean code (you'll notice many unneeded tags). When you insert pictures, you've got more options: you can resize the picture, add a nice shadow, adjust brightness and even use some simple effects like sepia. Unfortunately, Blogger doesn't allow you to publish images for the hosted blogs.
Windows Live Writer also lets you insert maps using Windows Live Local and the maps can be customized to show the aerial view or bird's eye detail.
When you select the preview mode, you'll see how your blog would look if you published the post, so it takes the idea of preview one step further.
Windows Live Writer is available to download here [4.74 MB, Windows] and it's still beta. The simple interface and the innovative additions make this tool a good replacement for the standard blogging interfaces and it's a good alternative to Performancing for Firefox, Qumana, but it's still far from a commercial application like ecto.