Messenger Plus! Live public beta now available for Messenger Wave 3
Posted by absorbation on Sat 01 Nov 2008 (10:19 GMT) (4215 views)
The release of the public beta of Windows Live Messenger 9 has sparked a series of emails and forums posts from those seeking to have a version of Messenger Plus! Live compatible with Messenger's latest surprise. Days after its release, beta testers were hunting for bugs, providing feedback, and making sure the program was stable before any beta was made public. Now, after a lot of work, Patchou made this statement:

If you've been using the latest beta version of Windows Live Messenger lately, I have some good news: Messenger Plus! is now fully compatible with it! Although I don’t like releasing anything that's not "final", the growing popularity of this new Messenger made it clear something had to be done on my side. For that reason, Messenger Plus! Live 4.79 has been added to the Download section and the Change Log has been updated accordingly.

Keep in mind that this is beta material so no support will be given for it. Some of the improvements (display pictures in notification popups for instance) are global to all Messenger versions so if you like what's fresh and new, this beta is for you. Also, while you have fun with this new release, get prepared for a very special promotion coming your way for Christmas. Those of you who like action figures and collectibles (yes, you read correctly) are in for a shock.

I'm glad to see people can now get their Messenger customization fix. The program would of been out earlier, if it wasn't for a beta leak, and some crazy server problems. Download now!

Download Messenger Plus! Live for Windows Live Messenger 9 Wave 3
View the announcement at the Messenger Plus! Forums

MessengerDiscovery beta for Windows Live Messenger 9
Posted by absorbation on Wed 08 Oct 2008 (16:54 GMT) (8959 views)
For all of you who have an urge to constantly modify your Messenger with the latest versions, add-ons and skins this news is for you. MessengerDiscovery is a long and successful add-on for Windows Live Messenger adding several unique and rather interesting features. Now Matt, the creator of the program has released a public beta specifically for the Wave 3 beta of Windows Live Messenger 9.

I was working very hard on MessengerDiscovery 2 trying to get it perfect and releasing it at the end of next month, but I wasn't planning on WLM 9 becoming public so soon. So I am going to release a public beta (2.0 preview) ... This version is 80% compatible with Windows Live Messenger 2009 Beta (version 9), most features work but the MessengerDiscovery engine has not been thoroughly tested.

From that statement it seems the program will be buggy. Heck, every final version of MessengerDiscovery has been buggy and has lacked that polish which makes the good stand from the great. I say use the beta with caution, as it is still not a supported product.

Visit the MessengerDiscovery 2 beta website

Windows Live Messenger Wave 3 public beta released
Posted by absorbation on Wed 17 Sep 2008 (12:54 GMT) (78831 views)
Despite the recent news on a new private beta of Windows Live Messenger ready to ship out to testers, Microsoft have released a beta of the Wave 3 generation of Windows Live products, including Windows Live Messenger 9. The update includes several updates, as we have already discussed. Below is a list of some notable changes:
  • Cleaner icons and softer sounds have replaced the current ones
  • The toolbar menu has been removed, and the email button enlarged and placed to the right
  • Contacts now have new hover effects
  • Display picture containers change colour depending on your and your contacts' status
  • A new feature called "What's new" gives updates on alternating contacts at the bottom of your contact list
  • A "Change your Scene" feature allows you to change the header background image in the contact list
  • There is a layout option within the options menu
  • The statuses "Out to lunch", "In a call" and "Be right back" have been removed
  • A chat history button has been added to conversations

The update is still incompatible with Messenger Plus! Live, however Patchou has told users: "I'll start working on it today but I can't say yet if I'll release something publicly before the final version is released by Microsoft or not (all of that depends on when they'll actually release a final)."

Personally, this version is the improvement I have wanted for years. A cleaner design, that doesn't really need patching, and highly customisable features, along with a more polished feel, is what Messenger should be. The new sounds and icons seem refreshed and as if they have been created by someone with a good eye for program design. Wave 3 gets the big thumbs up from Messenger Stuff.

Download the new beta version (in your own language)
Get the new beta via Windows Live Installer (Direct link, English version)
View our gallery containing screenshots of the new Windows Live Messenger Wave 3 beta
View more coverage over at LiveSide
View the announcement at the MessengerSays blog

New Yahoo! Messenger for Vista beta refresh
Posted by the andyman on Sat 12 Jul 2008 (12:30 GMT) (5024 views)
Looks like we missed this one last week so just a quick post to let you known that Yahoo! have released another small update to their new beta Vista-only, user-friendly, GUI-orientated messenger client.

There are lots of bug fixes and general enhancements as well as the main improvements:

Persistent text formatting
Now when you change your font, text size or color for your IM messages, we’ll save your settings between sessions. So if you like to IM in font size 14 using red letters in Arial Bold, we’ll remember!

Voice improvements
We updated the user interface for the voice feature to make the buttons more clear and added a new voice visualization called “Color Burst”. Plus there’s an updated incoming call notification that appears front and center when a call comes in.

No webcam yet, but we’re making that clear
A lot of our feedback has been from users asking for webcam support or users that look for the webcam feature but can’t find it in the product. Currently, we don’t have webcam support in Yahoo! Messenger for Vista but to shorten our users’ search for it, we added a webcam menu item. Those not in-the-know will get a message telling them that webcam support is coming soon.

Source: Yahoo! Messenger blog
Download the latest Yahoo! Messenger for Vista beta
Official Yahoo! Messenger for Vista site
Send feedback about the latest beta version

Yahoo! Messenger logo

Was first Messenger 9 beta public dogfood?
Posted by the andyman on Sun 29 Jun 2008 (16:30 GMT) (238571 views)
The Windows Live Messenger 9 beta program closed this week and looking back over the whole experience brought this question back to my mind: was this beta program public dogfood? All signs point to a big "yes" ... [long post alert!]

The actual beta program was designed to gather feedback on the totally new features (animated display pictures, signature sounds, multiple points of presence, etc) and suggestions about what people want from the new version. Releasing a build like they did at the early stage they were at in the development cycle meant that they could get good user input and feedback and actually have time to implement changes and improvements to the software.

This is unlike most of the betas we have been seeing recently (e.g. Windows Live wave 2 beta) where the changes to the software are already mapped out and beta testing only appears to be to check that it doesn't crash on "real-world" PCs and that there are no major bugs. This beta seemed to show a real shift in the way Messenger is developed, which could be attributed to the Sinofsky effect.

Microsoft need to improve their Messenger client to stay on top of the game and what better way of attracting new users (and persuading current ones to keep using it) that including new features that people actually want and not just their own ideas. Despite lots of criticism of the way this Messenger beta was handled, we are being led to believe that big changes have been happening to the software behind the scenes during all this time of unusual inactivity and silence from the development team.

They don't want these major changes and additions to the software leaked to the public and hence weren't too bothered when the things that the public knew about anyway were leaked through news and the leaking of the beta software itself. The leaking of the beta (which could easily have been prevented by Microsoft but surprisingly wasn't) also meant that they could see how the servers coped with the new features - all of which are fairly server intensive - which is one of the purposes of dogfood releases.

The closure of the beta program seems like a logical step at the moment as, with no new version since late November last year, there is nothing really left to test. Not much is known about the next beta version so, as always, everything is left to be seen in the next few months when it is released into the wild, readying itself for a final release with the rest of the Windows Live wave 3 suite in late 2008 (or early 2009).

Want some wildly guessed tips for the new version anyway? Look out for a possible new UI, changes to audio and video chats (including multi-person functionality), Windows Live Groups integration, "Echoes" integration, and Office/Office Live (Workspace) integration (and/or even Live Mesh integration).

Please note: the usual standard blogging disclaimer applies; the views expressed here are the views of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of any of their associated employers, companies or organisations.
Thanks to LiveSide for the image and plethora of links.

New eBuddy Mobile Messenger beta
Posted by the andyman on Thu 05 Jun 2008 (16:17 GMT) (12369 views)
eBuddy have just started a new limited beta test of the latest version of their Mobile Messenger application.

An update to the previous versions that we have featured (and tutorial-ised) in the past, the new beta - version 0.99 - has a cool new interface and some great new features, including:
  • Login using your eBuddy ID so you can sign into all your accounts (Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, AIM, Google Talk and MySpace IM) at once
  • Take a picture using your phone and use it as your display picture
  • More ways to sort your contact list
  • Support for Blackberry phones

We'll be posting more screenshots soon and will keep you updated with information about when you can get your hands on the latest version.

WLM 9 beta testing about to close ... until the next one
Posted by absorbation on Wed 04 Jun 2008 (11:34 GMT) (4465 views)
It's common for Windows Live Messenger beta testers to be in the dark about what's going on. We tend to receive an email, updating us every few months, and even the details are vague. As a result there has only been one build for testers to use in order to prevent mass leaks of the program. Today testers received this email:

Hello Windows Live Messenger beta testers!

Thank you for all of your efforts to help us test the latest version of Windows Live Messenger. You are some of our most engaged and passionate customers and over the last several months you've shown us just how much you care. You've sent us more than 1000 bugs and suggestions, provided valuable feedback on Windows Live Messenger v9.0 beta in three different surveys, and posted nearly 5000 messages in the newsgroup. We value your feedback - the good and the bad - and we are ready to begin using that feedback to enhance Windows Live Messenger.

For the past several months we've been gathering feedback from not only you, but also from past beta testers' comments, other external Windows Live Messenger customers, and Microsoft employees. We've compiled a thorough list of feedback, and it's now time to shift our focus to building the new version of Windows Live Messenger. Therefore, on June 24, we will close the official beta testing program.

Before the program closes we want to make sure we've reviewed and responded to all of the bugs and suggestions you sent in. The bug form will remain open through the end of this week. The newsgroup and Connect site will remain open after the bug and suggestion forms close so you can see our responses to your bugs and discuss them with other beta testers. This is a lengthy process, so we appreciate your patience as we respond to the remaining bugs and suggestions.

The good news is that even after the beta program closes you will still be
able to use the v9.0 Beta build. Please note, since the Connect site will be closed, there will be no way to download the bits from Microsoft should you want to install the build on a new or rebuilt machine. Installations you already have will continue to work.

If you have any last suggestions or bugs you want to send us, get them in by June 6 when the bug and suggestion forms will close.

Thank you again for your enthusiasm for Windows Live Messenger and all of your efforts during this beta program. There will be another beta later this year that includes the changes we're working on now, and we hope you'll participate in that and continue to send us your thoughts!

The Windows Live Messenger Team

Rumors have even suggested that the whole engine is being re-coded from 8.5 again, which may make some of this relevant again. But who knows, Microsoft have been very quiet about development, so I can't confirm a thing.

New version of Yahoo! Messenger for Vista Beta
Posted by the andyman on Thu 01 May 2008 (20:02 GMT) (9368 views)
Yahoo! Messenger for Vista, the version of Yahoo! Messenger designed specifically for Windows Vista using its interface technologies, was first released to beta at the end of last year. The first new version since then has now been released.

The main improvement is the addition of much-requested audio chat features. This includes the usual PC to PC calls and PC to phone calls, as well as cool visualisation effects that match you and your contact's voices when you speak.

Along with this there have been general speed and stability improvements, the ability to send "free" SMS messages to mobile phones has been added, and there is a new email alerts feature.

Source: Yahoo! Messenger blog
Download Yahoo! Messenger for Vista Beta (direct download link)
Official Yahoo! Messenger for Vista site

StuffPlug 3.5 screenshots and features
Posted by absorbation on Mon 31 Dec 2007 (15:23 GMT) (20441 views)
I'm going to be honest here, the current release of StuffPlug is rather bland. It lacks what made the add-on for MSN Messenger so great; unique features, exceptionally well coded. It wasn't the fault of the developers, they were busy and everyone was inspired by their ideas. Stealing emoticons and display pictures used to be StuffPlug's big features until they were mimicked by various other add-ons. What could TheBlasphemer and the other developers do to fix this?

The answer ... StuffPlug 3.5! Beta testers today received one if the largest updates to program in recent months and its going to make using StuffPlug with Messenger a must again. StuffPlug 3.5 has a new design which matches Windows Live Messenger's Vista style and changes to your specific colour scheme. The add-on is integrated well, the features are vast and it also contains some small tweaks that make Messenger more bearable.

This release is due on January 7th 2008 (in English) and on 21st January for translated versions. This is just a small step to where StuffPlug will be soon as TheBlasphemer is working on StuffPlug 4 for Windows Live Messenger 9 which will contain some new features and perfect the experimental ones. StuffPlug 3.5 is an important update, but is essentially here so Windows Live Messenger 8.5 users can use StuffPlug while adding several must have new features including:

  • Editing of display name from the contact list
  • Blocking of an entire group
  • Adding new contacts through the wordwheel
  • Sending 'action texts' to contacts, which mimics Messenger's action prompts
  • Chatting to contacts whom you have blocked
  • Use of chat only names within conversations
  • Showing the current time of your contacts matching to their timezone
  • Sending of fake invites to contacts
  • Flashing of LED keyboard when computer is in full screen mode
  • Disabling the file transfer limit allowing you to send more than 3 files at one time
  • Boost character limit up to 5,000 in conversation messages
  • Allow unlimited emoticons to be used within a message
  • Window icons reflect your contacts status
  • Creation of customizable timestamps
  • Disable your 'user is typing a message' notification
  • Opening of links in default browser
  • Polygramy (multiple Messenger's running at once)
  • Adding of mail icon in system tray
  • Memory flusher: 'This feature periodically flushes messengers used memory and keeps its overall memory usage lower'
  • Security speedup: addressing the issue that was highlighted here

View some screenshots of the upcoming version
Visit the official StuffPlug website

StuffPlug 3.5 and 4.0 development progress
Posted by anileator on Fri 28 Dec 2007 (00:31 GMT) (4659 views)
StuffPlug creator, TheBlasphemer, has just posted an insight into the development status of his popular add-on, StuffPlug being developed for Windows Live Messenger 8.5.

It's been a while since I last posted here. Now I mention it, it's been a terribly long time since I've actually shown something to the outside world!
Some people had already declared SP to be dead, but nothing is further from the truth; I've never really stopped working on it completely.
So what can you expect?

Well, I've kinda lost track on the number of bugfixes, optimizations and stuff like that, there's just millions of those ;)

We've also been working on some new features, but most of those are far from completed, and still need a lot of work before they go public. Speaking of which, there's been a "debug" menu in SP for ages now, listing all not-completed and experimental features, but it's been well hidden and locked down. With StuffPlug 3.5, that is going to change. Anyone can enable the "Experimental" feature category now, and they can try out some of the new features we're still working on. We can't promise they're stable, hell for some of em we can't even promise they work at all, but you're free to try em and give us some feedback on it when we release :)

Now, apart from the WLM 8.5 compatibility, the other big change is the user-interface. I'd grown sick and tired of the fact that all SP windows seemed completely seperated from Windows Live Messenger, and that's why I've introduced a major UI overhaul: All StuffPlug windows will now look and feel exactly like messenger windows :) I'm still working on several parts of it, but in the attachment you can see that I've got the most important windows nailed already ;)

When to expect all this? I'm trying to get it released by new years as a little present, but to be honest I'm not totally sure I'm going to make it. It'll probably be done around 7 januari or so, or 21 januari if you want a translated version ;)

- TB

P.S. I've deliberately shot the options window with the experimental tab highlighted, to tease you a bit ;) Feel free to speculate what some of the names might mean, I might throw in some extra screenshots later!

View TB's post discussing development