I haven’t been blogging much this week. In part that is being busy with the year ending at school. In part it is because the connection between Windows Live Writer, which is the application I write my posts with, and Blogger, the site that hosts this blog, is broken. Google announced a while ago that they were going to change the login for the API for Blogger. Unfortunately Windows Live Writer is officially a retired product which means no one is updating it. SO when Google changed over to the new API this week the connection was broken. It turns out that a lot of blog posting tools were also broken at the same time. I have no idea how those users are coping. I can still manually post – obviously – but WLW made posting so easy and I still have to figure out how posting images work. Well it’s frustrating.
I understand that Microsoft and Google are talking about both short and long term solutions and I am cautiously optimistic that something will work out. The whole thing highlights a lot of problems with software though.
First off companies who compete do not have a lot of incentive to make life easier for each other so using tools from competing companies and expecting them to work well together can be risky. Many people pick a platform and limit themselves to that one company as much as possible. I admit that is one reason I stick with Microsoft products when I can. I prefer them to Apple or Google and they, Microsoft products, work well together. Other people prefer Apple or Google and I think it is great that they have to options.
This also highlights one of the risks of using proprietary products rather than open source products. If either Blogger or Windows Live Writer were open source other people could make fixes. This advantage of open source is often more theoretical than actual though. I could probably modify WLW to work with the new API if I had access to the source code. Millions of other users probably could not do the same thing because they don’t have the technical background. They would have to wait for someone who does have the background to make the fix and share it. That is not much different from waiting for a company to do the same thing.
Another issue is using free products. Free as in “free lunch.” Both Google’s Blogger and Microsoft’s Windows Live Writer are free to use. There is little incentive to spend money to fix problems. Arguably Google has more incentive here because they make some advertizing money for Blogger (I think). Microsoft really gets nothing but some good will from Windows Live Writer. It can be hard to justify spending lots of money on free products. As a user it is also hard to complain about something you didn’t pay for in the first place.
I’m thinking about the long term for my blog these days. Maybe I would be better off on a paid site. I don’t mind paying for good things that come with good support. I don’t expect people to give away valuable resources like software or services for free. People need to make a living and people deserved to be compensated for their work. If I want free software maybe I should just write it myself?