The recent round of Windows Live betas included an updated version of Windows Live Writer. Since this is a tool I use daily, I’m always interested in updates and new features to this program. For the most part, it seems that the features included in this version are very much the same as those that were included in the technical preview which I downloaded a while ago. However, for those of you who didn’t run the technical preview, you’ll definitely enjoy the new options. For example, now images can be cropped and tilted, additional border styles for images have been added, support for LightBox and other image previewing effects (like Slimbox, Smoothbox, and others) has been added, and you can insert videos from and upload videos to both Soapbox and YouTube. For blog authoring, the new version now includes some useful features like auto-linking, smart quotes, spell check in more languages, and a word count feature.
Like the other betas, Live Writer also has a new look and feel, which is a big improvement over the tech preview’s UI. However, one missing feature which I desperately miss is the button that would allow you to easily display or hide the sidebar. With this latest version, you'll need to learn the keyboard shortcut F9 for this option instead. For the most part, though, this makeover is more of a cosmetic one for me since most of the features were in the tech preview. I am hoping, however, that the back-end will now support uploading drafts to Movable Type weblogs now, but I’ve been too scared to test this out live. (Does anyone know?)