posted by Leah

 

Today, the cat is out of the bag!

 

You: “Which cat? What Bag?”

 

The Windows Live Messenger Cat is out of the Microsoft Bag!

 

You: Cats? Bags? What are you talking about?

 

I don’t know, it’s an expression, work with me.

 

You: What if I’m allergic to cats? And have bag-a-phobia?

 

Seriously, it’s just the expression I’m using to announce that:

 

Windows Live Messenger Beta has been released to users

 

(…Well, some users anyway.)

 

 

 Windows Live Messenger Beta is now available for use and testing to a limited set of users in the US, UK, Japan, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Brazil, Korea, Netherlands, and Spain. More and more of you will be invited to join over the coming weeks/months.

 

The purpose of the limited release is two-fold – neither reason is that we don’t like you…we’re just like protective parents lookin’ out for you:

 

·         First, this is a beta. It’s a draft. We need help, we need feedback. We need real users doing real testing. We have made some elephant-sized changes. We’ve crossed our fingers hoping every person who installs it sees nothing but perfection. But we realize that with so many additions and changes, we shouldn’t commit until we’re really sure we’ve made the right choices.

·         Second, some of our new features require you to hit our servers a lot, not like abusive-hit, more like in a homerun-hit. This is no problem, we welcome it, but we need a slower ramp up of usage to keep up. Think of it like this: If you laid down, and someone put coins on your stomach one at a time, you could withstand a small fortune. Now imagine someone dropping a whole piggy bank full of change on your belly. It’d knock the wind out of you. Well, Windows Live Messenger is like a belly – we can take all kinds of weight, we just need to take it slowly.

 

So who gets to play? The first set of Beta testers is made up of us, MCI employees (see the next post to find out why) users who have tested previous closed-betas; users who signed up through http://connect.microsoft.com; some loyal blog readers , and handful of others – like my parents. (Hi mom! Hi dad!)

 

All beta testers are supplied with a limited set of invites to hand out to friends, family, or the highest bidder.  If you’re not in the first batch, I recommend:

 

            Step 1. Making friends with a Beta Tester

            Step 2. Bake him/her a cake…

                        … a quadruple layer cake,

                        …with ice cream on the side,

                        …shaped like the green Messenger guy,

            Step 3. Offer to wash his/her car for a year…

                        …with a toothbrush,

                        …your toothbrush.

            Step 4. Threaten to bake another cake…with his/her cat inside+  =

            Step 5. Bat your eyelashes (hey, it works for me)

 

By this point, if you’ve sunk as low as you’re willing to go and have still come up short, you’ll have to be patient. From now until the final release, we’ll be opening up for more and more testers, and making changes/adding new features along the way. It won’t be long before we can strip the “Beta” and sign everyone up for Windows Live Messenger. Think of it this way: WLM is like fine wine…you may have to wait, but when you get it, it’ll get you drunk on IM-goodness.

 

P.S.  Just because you’re not a beta tester, doesn’t mean you can’t influence the product! Now that Windows Live Messenger is in the wild, we plan to use the blog to get your opinions on specific things we’re unsure. We’ll use pictures and descriptions so you can add your opinions whether you have the beta or not.

 

P.P.S. For those who did get an invite, and wonder “with so few people running Windows Live Messenger, who will I talk to?” Fear not, WLM users can still interact with anyone running MSN Messenger in all the ways you’re used to. Also – you may want to give invites to people who share your computer, as you won’t be able to have Windows Live Messenger and MSN Messenger installed on the same machine.