Microsoft has launched a new beta for the Windows Live Writer blog post composition service.
The Writer tool is part of Microsoft's Windows Live online service and a first version was launched last year.
Windows Live Writer allows users to compose blog posts and publish them on popular blogging platforms - such as Windows Live Spaces, Community Server, WordPress and TypePad.
Nick White, a Microsoft product manager, set out the new features in the Windows Live Writer beta on the Windows Vista team blog. It enables spell checking as the user writes, gives users the ability to add categories and edit tables, and allows for easier image insertion, he said.
Microsoft also released new betas for its instant messaging and web-based mail services this week.
Windows Live Messenger 8.5 is now in official beta, although users got an early look when the release was leaked in Spanish on the Messenger Adictos blog earlier this week. The beta includes a user interface designed to look more like the revamped Aero interface of Windows Vista. The beta is available on the Windows Live site.
Windows Live Mail, the successor to Windows Mail that is included in Windows Vista and Outlook Express on Windows XP, also has a new beta release. The new version includes a new user interface that is similar to other services in Windows Live, and also allows users to sync to their Windows Live Hotmail accounts.
Other features in the Windows Live Mail beta include offline mail, accounting aggregation for Windows Live Hotmail and other POP3 and IMAP mail accounts, and RSS feed aggregation. Improvements in the service include better photo-sharing and search features, as well as more security, according to Microsoft.
Windows Live Mail also will feature integration with other Windows Live services, including Windows Live Spaces. For the time being, the service will not include advertisements, the company said. However, many of the Windows Live services have been created by Microsoft to drive online advertising revenue, so many already include advertising or will in the future.
Microsoft revealed a new strategy to develop new online services in November 2005, and also unveiled the new Windows Live brand. Many of the services previously branded MSN are now called Windows Live.