Windows Live Messenger 2011 public beta released
Posted by absorbation on Fri 25 Jun 2010 (16:55 GMT) (106836 views)
A public beta of Windows Live Messenger 2011 has been released by Microsoft. Coming part of an extensive package of Windows Live Essential's new betas, Microsoft's IM client has received an array of new features and improvements for users to test before the application's official release expected mid-August.


Some observations we've made

  • The build number is 15.3.2804.607.

  • Display names have been replaced by real names associated with that particular Windows Live ID. This is a significant change, most probably associated with Messenger's social networking push. Some users however, have expressed concerns over the idea, with worries over privacy for those who choose not to publish their real identities.
    • Microsoft MVP CookieRevisied has criticized the feature, stating: "This isn't about 'getting used to changes' or 'getting rid of the old and going forward in time', or even a 'personal taste of a feature' or whatever, this is all about privacy!"


  • The multiple location login feature introduced in Windows Live Messenger 2009 has received further integration, allowing you to control all devices currently connected to Messenger. This works particularly well if you're using the Messenger for iPhone app released this week.

  • The contact list has received several UI modifications, allowing you to remove the "social pane" feature and maintain the classic design using several columns for organizing friends.

  • The main contact list features a larger square advertisements, while the text promotion feature at the bottom of the conservation window has been replaced by an image banner. [Read our previous discussions on the new Messenger advertisements]

  • Contact sorting has become highly customized. You can order your contacts by their online status, if they are favorites, by specific groups, who you appear offline to and "others".

  • The UI has remained mostly unchanged in terms of color scheme and layout. Previous Windows Live betas have witnessed significant UI modifications.

  • Facebook is fully integrated into the build. Status updates are synchronized and you can share information between the applications.

  • Toast notifications are larger and more rectangular, featuring a more simple design:



  • Keywords are underlined within conversations which then become searchable. Links to YouTube and other services also receive thumbnail previews which then play embedded into the client (pretty cool, even if it is a little buggy at the moment).

  • There has been no word on whether a compatible Messenger Plus! Live will be released for the beta. Based on previous releases however, Patchou is likely to provide a beta build within the next couple of weeks.



Community impressions

Having kept a close eye on the Windows Live Essentials beta page all of yesterday I was excited when my download started at around 19:30 (BST). The installer was simple to say the least: it lacked any sort of solid GUI and after waiting a long 20 minutes for it to complete I was ready to sign in.

My first impressions were positive, the layout looked slick and although the social pane was hardly relevant (just having Facebook notifications in it would be ideal for me) I quickly switched to the classic contact list and marveled at the obvious implementation of sorting contacts into columns - why didn't they think of this before!

The honeymoon period quickly ended however, as the program began to repeatedly crash upon signing in. Then the impressions of others began to hit my computer screen thick and fast: most of which were negative - issues over installing, signing in and the privacy changes plagued any new positive features. Yes Messenger is buggy but I'm trying to forgive it, after-all it is a beta for a reason.

ZDNet blogger Zack Whittaker likened the Essentials beta as “watching a clown run across a minefield.” While Peter Bright over at Arstechnica praised the small design decisions noting a "cleaner and crisper" appearance that incorporates more whitespace. There has been a mixed set of opinions.

From experience there is typically a lukewarm response to any sizable Messenger upgrade. Microsoft however, are moving in a new direction and it seems like the right decision. The Windows Live Messenger 2011 public beta is no panacea to the IM/ social networking gap, but Microsoft seem to be the only company attempting to change that position in order to fire some energy back into its flagship instant messaging service.


Screenshots

Screenshot: Installer privacy settings
Screenshot: Social pane
Screenshot: Classic contact list
Screenshot: Contact list - large contacts
Screenshot: Multi-column contact list
Screenshot: Conservation window
Screenshot: Tabbed chatting
Screenshot: Facebook integration
Screenshot: About window

View our gallery of screenshots for the previous leaked beta back in March
Download Windows Live Essentials Wave 4 beta


Non-so-speedy-speedlinking: June catchup
Posted by absorbation on Wed 23 Jun 2010 (13:37 GMT) (24588 views)
I would like to start this post by apologizing for not writing a single piece of news for over a month. The exams period took its tole, but now the summer is here I can once again focus on regular news updates. There has been various stories arising over the past month, so consider this a catch-up post to give you a brief overview of what you may have missed.

Messenger integrates with Kinect: Microsoft's E3 press conference last week demoed a highly polished and interesting way to communicate to your Messenger contacts - without a keyboard, mouse or even a controller. Microsoft's focus of the show, Kinect (previously known as Project Natal) is its motion sensing camera that is designed to transform how webcam chat will work over Xbox Live. The development team claim this is part of a wider transformation of its webcam system over to high-definition. [Read more]

Sharing your search results: Microsoft have further integrated its new search engine, Bing into Windows Live Messenger. You can now let your contacts know your search results, via an instant message or via a status update. [Read more]

BBC iPlayer integrates with Messenger: Yet more integration news. The BBC's flagship Internet streaming service has expanded to allow chatting to your Messenger friends from within your web browser, allowing you to watch TV and chat online simultaneously. In order to use the feature, you must enable the new beta interface.



The MessengerSays blog closes: The official Messenger development blog has come to an end, in favor of a non-specific Windows, which posts on a more regular basis. The MessengerSays blog will be missed, after coming to life at a similar time as MsgStuff. It has always been a more personal side to Messenger development. [Read more]

Webcam feature receives update: Mynetx has discovered the leaked build of Windows Live Messenger 2011 has been dynamically improved in terms of user-friendliness and quality. [Read more]

Public beta due Thursday? Rumors have stated that a public beta was due in June this year, but this week has seen several sources suggesting a public beta of Windows Live Essentials Wave 4 is due tomorrow (Thurs 24th).

Messenger now has three specific contact list styles: Wave 4 has seen extensive social networking integration, with the social pane playing an important role in re-designing the contact list. Although the classic design can still be enabled, yesterday revealed the classic design can now hold two columns of contacts, while re-positing other features within the list:



Windows Live Messenger 2011 due this August
Posted by absorbation on Thu 13 May 2010 (11:19 GMT) (40785 views)
What, Windows Live Messenger 2010 has not even been released yet? Yes, Windows Live Essentials 2010 is actually going to hold the year of 2011, suggesting longer gaps between program releases, according to one Microsoft employee:

I understand that as has been secret until now the name of the Wave 4 (internal name) is they cost more to know these details. And then going to go bragging to post this information in your next post, arguing that "these rumors" or "these sources" for example my WLWave4 roadmap that i posted in exclusive ... Finally, this is not a rumor, is totally true (I confirmed 100%) and I am not the source of anyone, least of those who do not make a single credit to the author of the news.



Although this has not been officially confirmed by Microsoft (I hope the source's first language isn't English), there are several reasons why this could be the case. For now however, we will refer to the upcoming release as Messenger 2010 until we can read an official press release, when we will amend all our previous posts.



Rumor: Windows Live Messenger 2010 public beta due June 21
Posted by absorbation on Sat 08 May 2010 (19:25 GMT) (40544 views)
The past week has witnessed Microsoft attempting to push information about its upcoming release of Windows Live Essentials. Wikikou reports that they've received information that will see a public beta of Windows Live Wave 4 next month.

Can this rumor be believed? Well Microsoft never reveal release dates for final products, never mind public betas. The fact that this build is expected at the end of next month is also questionable as typically beta cycles don't work to specific release dates (although as there are several products, this may be planned). Judging from previous Windows Live releases we can expect a public beta during the development cycle and it may well be the case one is due at the end of June. I do not however, believe Microsoft will release a public beta on the 21st, it's just too specific.

Source: Wikikou - Windows Live Messenger 2010 should come out next June 21 in Public BETA.



News floods in about Windows Live Messenger 2010
Posted by absorbation on Sun 02 May 2010 (23:52 GMT) (42668 views)
The weekend has witnessed what Wave 4 has to offer and much of the attention has focused on what's coming for Windows Live Messenger 2010. We've attempted to provide a brief summary of the various related news stories.


Greater social networking integration

The Messenger team have focused on expanding their userbase through the social networking market:

This begins with bringing together the most complete picture of what your friends are doing across your social networks and other sharing sites, and then helping you see at a glance what your favorite people are doing, wherever they’re doing it. This includes comprehensive integration with Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, and a wide range of other sharing sites.



New screenshots have revealed much of the focus is going to be on Facebook Chat integration, with dedicated conversation windows been provided:



As part of our deeper integration with Facebook, later this year Messenger will support Facebook Chat, so you’ll be able to IM all your Facebook friends from within Messenger.




Messenger on your iPhone

Perhaps the most exciting news to emerge this weekend is the unveiling of Windows Live Messenger for the iPhone. According to Neowin’s coverage:

The Messenger client will offer all the standard features, instant messaging, photo sharing, accept and send friend invitations, emoticons and much more. Users can also browse their connected social networks, allowing users to comment, like, browse and share information with their friends and family.









Messenger Connect

Microsoft have unveiled new ways for web developers to integrate Windows Live Messenger users into their website, allowing them to use their Windows Live profile, Messenger contacts and personal credentials securely from one account. It works in a similar fashion similar to Facebook Connect. You can read more over at Windows Live Blog.


Hi-def video chat, real-time photo sharing and video voicemail

Microsoft have made live their Windows Live preview website, which gives an overview of what users can expect from Wave 4 Windows Live products. It signals a push to get users talking about Wave 4, perhaps in the mists of releasing a public beta of Windows Live Essentials in the near future.

Video chat quality has been improved, the photo-sharing feature is more interactive and in real-time, while users can how send short video-messages to offline contacts that will play when they next sign in. The upcoming version appears to be significantly enhancing current Messenger features.



The build-up to Windows Live Wave 4 is truly underway. Expect greater coverage to come. For now check out the video below for an overview:




M3 screenshots of Windows Live Messenger 2010 revealed
Posted by absorbation on Mon 26 Apr 2010 (23:30 GMT) (14785 views)
New screenshots have surfaced of Windows Live Essentials Milestone 3, which reveal UI changes to Windows Live Messenger. LiveSide have given details on the the latest build, believed to have been compiled a week ago:

It appears that the menu bar on the top of Messenger conversation windows has been converged with the menu bar in the conversation box. Here’s a quick screenshot:



We hope to update this post with more screenshots as they arrive.


25 brand new emoticons come to Windows Live Messenger 2010
Posted by absorbation on Sun 18 Apr 2010 (22:20 GMT) (19656 views)
Back in February news surfaced that the classic Messenger emoticons are to receive a facelift for Windows Live Messenger 2010. Now LiveSide have uncovered the full set, which appears to contain an additional 25 new emoticons on top of the current selection. You can see them all in the screenshot below:



This brings the number of Messenger emoticons to 106.


Now it's leaked: What do users think of Messenger 2010?
Posted by absorbation on Tue 23 Mar 2010 (19:30 GMT) (101151 views)
In case you didn't already know, Windows Live Messenger 2010 build 15.2.2583.119 leaked last week and has since been floating around on various BitTorrent trackers. Although the build was never intended for public release, it gave Messenger fans their first hand-on with what Microsoft has been developing over the past year. I've been analysing what the community has been discussing and asking users for feedback.

The initial flow of reactions came from the Messenger Plus! forums, where users started to discuss the leak and post screenshots. Unfortunately most feedback was on the negative side. Commenting on the new social networking features, one regular member said:

It's OK. Not liking the social mode much yet, although maybe once it'll allow me to connect to Facebook and Twitter properly it may be better ...

I liked the look of the emoticons from the preview screenshot, but after using them I dislike them.



Another user enjoyed how Windows 7 compatiablity was complete:

Only thing I remotely like is the Win 7 integration which it all finally seems to be working right ... It's no great improvement to WLM 2009 I reckon. If they want Windows Live Messenger to become a "social networking hub" then they need to implement different steps. The social stream has the potential to work but the split screen contact list alongside the stream does not work well, the text is bulky and large, doesn't work well without images.



MenthiX, scripts and skins database manager for Messenger Plus! had a more positive view:

I don't think the leaked build is a good version to base our opinion of Live Messenger 2010 on. The leaked build is still a very early version with a lot of missing features and bugs. I don't recommend people install it other than on virtual machines. We already saw screenshots of newer builds over a month ago which are more polished, these just aren't available to the public yet.

As far as the new features go: I think they are heading in the right direction by making Messenger more social. While I'm not a huge fan of the social networks, it is the global trend and Messenger is currently loosing users to Facebook and Twitter. People are already creating scripts to sync their personal messages with their social networks, what Microsoft is trying to do in Messenger 2010 seems like a natural step. And for those who don't like it there is a single option which will turn the contactlist back to what we are used to from Messenger 2009 and you'll never have to see the social stream again. Both type of users can be happy. But the interface needs more polishing, especially the social mode looks bloated. Fonts are oversized and there is just too much going on. A giant square ad isn't helping either ...

All together, when the polish up the interface and make it look cleaner I think Messenger 2010 can be a nice new version. Hopefully we'll get to see improved builds soon."



Our admin Chris seemed to think the application needed a face lift:

The idea behind it is good, connecting everyone to their social networks they are apart of, but they need to rethink the design, its 2010 - which in my opinion is all about clean, simple user interfaces.



When asked about the leak, Jonathan Kay, a Microsoft Most Valued Professional and Messenger enthusiast told Messenger Stuff:

Well I don't think it's really a big deal, we'd all seen the leaked screenshots anyway so any "damage" was already done. As most of the new social functionality doesn't seem to be working, we can't even really see what that's completely all about. I don't think there's much incentive for anyone to actually use it right now either.



Perhaps more interesting is how one of the exclusive testers of the leaked build, Nigel Ansell, detailed on his Facebook profile an estimated timeline for Wave 4 product releases:

  • 28 April VIP testers will get access to latest builds
  • 18 May WL2010 M3 RTW
  • 3 June Complete Public disclosure
  • 7 June Public Beta Day
  • 7 June iPhone main languages Messenger
  • 25 August iPhone additional languages Messenger + PUBLIC RTW


I can agree with most of the reactions within the community. I'm not a a fan of the new social panel, nor do I believe Microsoft has revolutionised its IM client enough to compete with new social networking challenges. Overall, considering this build was never meant to see the light of day, Microsoft are making features that users have been asking for, even if they may not yet be fully ready.



Windows Live Messenger 2010 leaked: Details and screenshots inside
Posted by absorbation on Sun 21 Mar 2010 (20:40 GMT) (52405 views)
It has been a long time coming, but the first build of Windows Live Messenger 2010 has leaked, confirming many of the features we have seen in our coverage over the past eight months.

The build number, 15.2.2583.119 has been floating around the Internet since yesterday, after reports from LiveSide confirmed the leak had occurred earlier in the week. We at Messenger Stuff have installed the beta and had a close look at what Windows Live Messenger 2010 has to offer.

Below are some important notes concerning the leaked build:
  • The build is perhaps many months old. Believed to be milestone 2, website cnBeta has posted screenshots of milestone 3 from over a month ago. We can only assume much more has happened since.
  • Only certain Live IDs are able to sign into the beta as is the case with most internal releases. Wikikou has posted a protocol down-grader to allow users to sign into the leak, however conservations are highly unstable.
  • The leaked version is extremely buggy, despite its initial polished appearance.
  • There appears to be signs of Facebook Chat integration.
  • Tabbed chats are confirmed.
  • You can revert to the classic style contact list.


We at Messenger Stuff don't provide links to leaked beta builds, particularly ones that are unstable. Even with the workaround to sign in the leaked beta is too unpractical to use in its current state.

With the bugs aside, Windows Live Messenger 2010 looks almost ready for a public release, and I think we can expect a public beta soon.

View our gallery of screenshots of the leaked beta


                         
          


New screenshots reveal further details on Windows Live Messenger 2010
Posted by absorbation on Mon 22 Feb 2010 (12:35 GMT) (24555 views)
Over the past few months news has started to surface on the details of the wave 4 release of Windows Live products and services and this has included a vast array of information on Messenger. View our tag page on WLM 2010 to get a full overview of new features revealed so far.

So what can we reveal today? Well new leaked screenshots uncover a further merging of Messenger with social networking. LiveSide have analysed the images in detail and discovered five key changes:


Classic "Contact List" view is still available – as we've told you earlier, the expanded "social" pane on the left is collapsible by simply clicking on the icon on the top-right corner. The screenshot on the right shows the collapsed view, with the advertisement in its original size.

Twitter and WordPress connection – one of the screenshots showed us that besides Facebook, you can also "connect" to Twitter and WordPress

Possible Video Messages integration – Windows Live Video Messages has been in beta since its introduction back in 2008, and while it is branded with the Wave 3 theme, it didn’t really have much integration with the rest of Windows Live. From one of the newly leaked screenshots, one of the social updates seems to show that Video Messages is now integrated right into Messenger:



Geo-tagging support in Windows Live Photos – One of the social update tiles also hinted at possible geo-tagging support in Windows Live Photos (and perhaps even Photo Gallery!):



New "Friends" view – which allows you to view all your contacts and sort them into categories based on their interests, details, Messenger status, and more:




Once again we've seen some interesting details on what we can expect to be using within the next couple of months. Windows Live Messenger 2010 has great focus on social networking integration, perhaps in an attempt to thwart the competition it faces from such websites.

Source: CNBeta