I installed Windows Live Writer 1.0 Beta a while ago to test a project I was working on. I didn't actually boot the application or anything, just installed it. I think this proves how much of a setup geek I am. <smile/>
Well, as you can see in my previous blog entry, I actually tried using Windows Live Writer. I must say, in the short time I've used it, I'm impressed. The UI is very intuitive. The HTML generated is very clean. The ability to preview the post using the styles from my blog is sweet. I love the way that "Recent Posts" and "Drafts" are tracked seamlessly.
That said, I have had some small issues with cut and paste not doing exactly what I expected (whitespace just disappeared). Window Live Writer also doesn't provide an easy way for me to add code snippets to blog entries (awesome if it was supported just like blockquote). But I can edit the HTML directly to add PRE elements and Writer seems to handle that pretty well.
But this blog entry isn't supposed to be about Windows Live Writer application. Instead, I wanted to talk about the Windows Live Writer team.
I met three of the developers on the Writer team a month or so ago: Bonnie, Joe and Spike. We had a great discussion for almost two hours after work one Thursday. One of the things I remember most is when we were discussing Beta feedback Joe commented sheepishly, "Probably the biggest mistake we made was not including the word 'blogging' in our dictionary. Lots of people complained about that." I chuckled when I posted my last blog entry because I did have to add "blogging" to the dictionary when the spell checker complained.
But even more important than the interesting conversation I had with Bonnie, Joe, and Spike, I saw something I hadn't seen inside Microsoft for so long I had almost forgotten to look for it. This team is hungry.
They aren't just building a simple blogging tool. They are building a blogging tool that beginners can be comfortable with while meeting advanced users basic needs. Then they released an update to their Beta based on user feedback. Next they made their application a platform and opened up an untold number of new uses. And most importantly they didn't blink when it was suggested Windows Live Writer wasn't necessary because Word 2007 would support blogging too (as Chris Corio might say, "The two apps are in completely different markets, yo!").
It wasn't until I was driving away that evening that the last piece of the puzzle clicked in my head. Windows Live Writer was created by the same team that brought us Onfolio. This team of hungry developers was acquired from the "outside".
That realization eventually crystallized into something that I have been feeling for a year or more. It feels like many developers at Microsoft are "playing to not lose". What I saw in the Windows Live Writer team was a small group of developers "playing to win". I loved that. It's past time for me to do the same.