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Last Updated: Monday, 10 May, 2004, 04:26 GMT 05:26 UK
Google revamps blogging service
Screenshot of new Blogger service
Face-lift intended to make Blogger more friendly to novices
One of the leading names in blogging is overhauling its service in an attempt to catch up with the competition.

Blogger, which is owned by Google, has redesigned its site to make it easier to use and added new features, including posting by e-mail.

"The focus is on lifting the barrier to start blogging," said Evan Williams, co-founder of Blogger.

There are hundreds of thousands of blogs, creating an eco-system of ever-changing ideas on the net.

Mainstream appeal

Blogger is one of many free web-based services that helps people share their thoughts on the net, without writing code or installing software.

The service has changed little since it was bought by Google in February 2003.

Blogging has shown itself to be a fundamental part of the web. But we still have a tremendous way to go
Evan Williams, Blogger
But in the meantime, rival services have sprung up and others have been innovating furiously.

Blogger is racing to make up time with a new look and tools to let people do more with their blogs.

"We're aiming at expanding the user base and appealing to the mainstream internet audience," Mr Williams told BBC News Online.

As part of the overhaul, Blogger is adding a facility to post to a blog via e-mail, as well as a comments box.

It has also done a deal with a company called Hello to let subscribers upload photos directly to a blog.

Among the other changes are 26 new templates and new profile pages so that bloggers can learn more about each other.

Early days

Blogs have mushroomed in the past couple of years since free software became widely available, allowing people with no technical know-how to create and quickly update internet sites at little or no expense.

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Google does not release figures for the number of active bloggers. But at the time it bought the company last year, Blogger had some 200,000 online diarists.

One of its rivals, LiveJournal, says it has 3,082,448 subscribers, out of which 1,482,196 are described as active.

Anyone can set up a blog for free on Blogger. Accounts are by default hosted on BlogSpot, a storage site owned by Blogger.

Free accounts have ads on their pages but there is the option to pay for ad-free space.

"Blogging has shown itself to be a fundamental part of the web," said Mr Williams.

"But we still have a tremendous way to go."

As for the future, Mr Williams said they would be looking at incorporating Google's search technology into Blogger, offering subscribers the ability to search their blog.

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