After having used Movable Type from February 2003 until August 2009, I can easily say that’s it’s a stable, secure platform oriented towards static publishing. I’ve been using WordPress since last month, and it’s an easier tool to use. It also has a rich developer community that leads to a lot of plugins with impressive functionality and frequent updates. Comparing the two, WordPress and Movable Type, it is easy to see that neither is superior. They both have their strengths and weaknesses.
What I’ve liked about WordPress is the speedy administration functionality that ties into Google Gears for extra speed. Movable Type’s admin area seems like a lumbering beast by comparison. But the main highlight for me in choosing WordPress over Movable Type is language. WordPress is written in PHP, which I know well and can easily manipulate. Also, you can use PHP in your templates, which can make short order of larger processing problems, such as my Archives page. Movable Type is written in Perl, which just doesn’t captivate my interest. Hence my options were always limited with MT. And Six Apart kind of killed off the community around MT with the 3.0 licensing debacle, so getting MT to do what you want it to do may require some Perl scripting.
You could argue that Movable Type’s template tags are much more robust than WordPress’, and that’s true. But WordPress has the advantage of being able to run PHP code, which allows you to do the same things you could with a MT template tag, and usually in a much more concise way by using functions and such.
PHP rendered pages are slower than straight HTML, but in my experience, WordPress’ dynamic pages are generated faster than dynamic pages in Movable Type. Also, using the WP Super Cache plugin obviates the performance issue by generating static HTML when dictated by traffic. The plugins and dynamic nature of WordPress make it a memory hog. So choose your plugins carefully. I was running Yet Another Related Posts Plugin, but started getting memory errors so I deactivated it.
In the final analysis, Movable Type feels like a power tool. It has a steeper learning curve, but doesn’t tell you what to do. WordPress is easily extensible and has a strong community behind it. Just by virtue of running WordPress, I’ve connected with people I would otherwise not have.