Shengliver’s Note: From MSN spaces to, from Windows XP to Windows 10, Shengliver has come a long way. There is no turning back. This entry was posted for the first time in 2010 when the blog was transferred to Some of the MS services, like Windows Live and Windows Messenger, mentioned in the entry, are no longer available.


Readers of my blog, Shengliver’s Garden, are surprised to find that its appearance and layout are different from before and that the link is automatically directed to the present site:


The other week I was notified of an option to make the switch to WordPress while updating my blog on Windows Live. MSN’s Windows Live decided to scrap its own blogging service. It has chosen a world-leading blogging site as its default blogging service. If a member of Windows Live applies for a space, the request will be submitted to


Shengliver’s Garden on Windows Live has successfully been moved to its new home on WordPress. After experiencing for the first few days, I am impressed by the service and the team’s dedication to the website. I loved the blogging experience with Windows Live, and I believe I will relish my new space on


This post is to say thanks to Microsoft at this turning point although I will still be hanging around with its Windows Live.


Like most computer and Internet users in China, I ran the Windows XP OS on my PC in the very beginning. The transition from paper to digital media saw me learning to use Microsoft’s Office applications like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. After I became comfortable with the new way of working and living, I realised what difference it made: better access to information, higher efficiency, and a shorter distance to the world. Being a teacher of English in China, I have benefited a lot from the MS Office Suite. Daily use of it improved my word processing skills, and an English version of the applications familiarised me with the terms of the digital age. I came to write better English with the functionality of its grammar and style guide. I started with Office 2000 and have since followed each and every upgrade of the program. I am running Office 2010 on my PC this year. Though some free and open-source office apps such as are putting up stiff competition, Microsoft Office still has a distinct edge for its reliability and user-friendliness.

 MS Student with Encarta

What amazed me more back in 2003 was that I came across an application suite on CD-ROM by Microsoft at a local market. It was a total encounter. I had never read or heard about it anywhere, or from anybody around me in the physical world. It was Encarta. After installing it on my XP machine, I was immediately enchanted by this reference tool. Encarta was a multimedia reference library, with sounds, videos, pictures, articles and sidebars, yearbook entries, an atlas, and more. If presented on paper, the tool should be a set of 20 or 30 volumes. I had long heard about Encyclopaedia Britannica in my student days but never had any access to it. I got wired in 2004, so before that, in the year 2003-2004, Encarta served as my digital library. I read it and used it intensively and extensively in my research and work. Its authority on knowledge and its ease of use were beyond compare.


Then I followed Encarta’s update every year after I gained access to the Web. What was even more convenient was that Microsoft offered a fairly large portion of the Encarta contents on the Microsoft Network (MSN). It was open and free.


The academic resource was aimed at North American users, especially American and Canadian students in secondary school and tertiary education. Probably the developers never realised that this tool could also serve as a window on the Western world—its knowledge, ways of life, and almost all the facets of human existence over there. Teaching English in China I have never been able to visit an English speaking country; therefore, Encarta gave me a big hand.


A saying goes, “All good things must come to an end.” In 2009, a notice was posted on the Encarta website, announcing that Microsoft would exit the digital encyclopaedia market. The reason it gave was that the corporation was aware of the changes the Internet had brought to people’s ways of accessing information, and that it would devote its resources to better areas of service.


Of course, Wikipedia has been available and popular since its advent. And Encyclopaedia Britannica is a serious rival too. Microsoft’s decision to withdraw from the competition was based on its evaluation of the trend in information technology. However, as a user in China, I even today feel sorry for the absence of this versatile academic reference on the Internet.


I applied for an MSN Messenger ID when my digital existence started. With the messenger, I came to know and use more and more of the free services offered by MSN. Later on, its network service was renamed Windows Live, and the messenger is now called Windows Live Messenger.


My blog Shengliver’s Garden was born in the Windows Live Spaces, its blogging utility. The first entry was posted in 2005. As time went on, my English blog grew. And almost every year Microsoft updated and upgraded its blogging service. It thus became more and more user-friendly.


Then came a powerful blogging tool from Microsoft, the Windows Live Writer. The Writer enables a blogger to write his blog offline and on his own computer. Besides, images, links, videos, plugins, and other richer contents can also be edited and embedded in a blog entry on the Writer. A blogger can take time over an entry, drafting, revising, and polishing before it is published directly from the Writer on his local machine to the Web, thus leaving out the hassle of logging in and out of a website. Writing on a blogging site often sees a blogger lose all his work, in the event of an accident like a power failure or the crash of the browser. Thus the Windows Live Writer saves all his worries. With the Writer, Shengliver’s Garden has improved both its looks and substance tremendously.


In summary, I have grown from zero to a big number digitally with the help of the services and products offered by Microsoft Corporation. Although it no longer hosts my blog Shengliver’s Garden, I am indebted to this IT giant. Thank you, Microsoft.

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