Microsoft is rolling out Wave 4 of Windows Live Essentials and Windows Messenger is one of the components.
I’ve read that Messenger is the top IM client in the world – used even more than Facebook chat. This is probably because its been around longer than Facebook. I don’t chat a whole lot, but from what I was reading, I saw it had the capability of bringing in updates from all your friends from Facebook, Twitter, etc. all in one place.
Starting today (June 24), Microsoft released its Wave 4 of Windows Live Essentials. Included in this is a new and improved Messenger. Above is what the new Messenger IM interface looks like. Not pictured was a warning from Messenger to not send anyone credit card, pin or other sensitive information (that’s good).
Some of the features
- video chat in hi def
- voice chat
- watch a slide show together, share pictures in real time (pictures can be from your hard drive, or an on-line photo album
- explore links together
- organize your contacts into groups and make yourself visible or invisible to certain groups of people
- see when your friends add a status update, new pictures, a blog posting to their social sites (to do this you have to walk through a few steps while in Messenger to connect to your Facebook or MySpace account(s)
- tabs at the top for each person you’re chatting with – this did work
The download of the new Messenger took awhile. This is because if you have any other Live components on your computer, the download manager automatically updates those along with your download of Messenger. This is annoying because it took longer and it didn’t give me the choice of whether or not I wanted to upgrade my other services.
So I finally got the installation finished and started Messenger. Yes, there are ways to customize how Messenger looks and there are new emoticons you can get. You can make groups and favorites to keep the people you most want to be in touch with on top.
One of the ‘big things’ with the new Messenger is the social stream feature. Your windows live contacts’ social commenting in Facebook, Twitter and other services will appear in your Messenger (they scroll by). I tried connecting with Facebook and put my credentials in a couple of times, but the service wasn’t working at the time – oh well, first day bugs.
When I went through some of my contacts and thought it would be nice to add them into my ‘social stream’, I found I had to send them an invitation – even though I’m already their ‘friend’ on Facebook or follow them on Twitter, I have to send a request – again – not happy about that, but it protects their privacy. I also found that Windows Live knew who of my contacts, were Windows Live members and it gave me that group to contact first.
As you’re going through the steps to get set up, you’ll be directed to a page where you can set multiple privacy settings. Take the time to do this, you can always go back later and revise them.
You can take the time to make your profile very open by putting the details in to show your friends your Facebook updates, Twitter updates, your blog postings and many other social sites. This way, when you are a friend with someone else on Messenger, they’ll be able to see all your updates in one place.
There are still the ads that show up in Messenger – some of which are loud and annoying, Then some ads are way off target. So you have to decide whether it’s worth using Messenger or not.
I do like the new look of Messenger better than the old one. The HD video chat feature and the picture and link sharing features are nice to have too. The social part is OK, but you do have to get people you’ve already ‘friended’ another chance to friend you again before you can start seeing their updates.