For a fun, suspenseful, detailed description of the new Windows Live Messenger Beta, I’m asking nicely that you skip the summary and read what comes after…
A Summary of Windows Live Messenger:
Every Feature of MSN Messenger
- I’m not actually going to list them all, this is a dummy-bullet for looks.
- Unified Contacts
- !600 Messenger Contacts
- Word Wheel
- Edit your contact’s Info
- !Nicknames (Rename your contacts)
The Art of Instant Messaging
- !Offline IMs
- !Conversations While Appearing Offline
- !Time Stamps
Messenger Face Lift
- !Pick Your Color
- !Toning it Down
- Display Picture Functionality
- Frameless Menu Entry
- !Fixed Scrolling
- Updating Files
- Multiple Computers
- Size Doesn’t Matter
- With whom?
- !Cheap and easy
- Crystal Quality
- MCI Partnership
Windows Live Video Integration
- See the latest Videos
3-2-1 Contacts—IM what you call, a people-program:
Friends, family, coworkers, acquaintances, most bipeds really – Windows Live Messenger is about people, your people. Check out the new features that will help you manage, track and connect with your people.
Unified Contacts—like putting everyone you know in one room, except more comfortable
Imagine starting an email with the address pre-filled to anyone you know with one click on your buddy list. Imagine looking up birthdays, phone numbers, etc. without going to an address book. Are you imagining? And smiling? And singing from rooftops? Careful up there. You can now access all your Messenger and Email contacts through your buddy list, which basically means you can add anyone. (Of course, you’ll still need their permission to see their online status & IM them.) When you first sign in to Windows Live Messenger you will see all of your hotmail contacts & groups added to the bottom of your contact list. You can hide them again through ContactsàFilter ContactsàMessenger Contacts Only.
For the uber-popular who will challenge “So what if I can add anyone? I’ve already hit the 300-person limit.” To you I say, “Nuh-uh, you’re only half way there…”
! 600 Contacts – I don’t have enough fingers to count that high.
So go make more friends. And if you think it’d be hard to find one contact among 600, you’d be right, if it weren’t for…
Word Wheeling – like speed (dial) for your contact list
Enter a few letters in the Word Wheel and watch as your list slims down to show only likely candidates.
“My friends always change their friendly names, how can I search for them?” We thought of that. Word Wheel searches everything including personal message, phone numbers, and email addresses (which don’t change). However we don’t expect you to memorize this stuff, so we’ve added the ability to…
Edit Your Contacts’ Info—almost as cool as editing actual people. Maybe next time 😉
Click a contact to open a Contact Card. Then flip it over and hit Edit to enter any information including phone numbers, home address, birthday, or notes like “loves wine” or “Owes me $20”. Word wheel searches it all, including our favorite field…
! Nicknames—It’s your freakin’ buddy list – you should pick the names on it.
The Art of Instant Message
IMing can be an art, just like painting or sculpting. And just as it’s better to have more paints or chisels (ok, I don’t know much about sculpting), a few more Instant Messaging Features make a prettier picture.
! Offline IMs – for times when your friends are all out, but didn’t invite you.
Imagine if IM and Email fell in love and had a baby. That baby would be Offline IM. Now you can IM contacts even when they are offline. When they sign in, they’ll get your IMs right away. Check out toolsàoptionsàmessages for options. Disclaimer: While this feature is courtesy of a partnership between WL Messenger and WL Mail, I’m pretty sure the partnership involved no baby-making.
If you’re smart, you’re asking “What if someone sends an Offline IM but I’m only appearing offline? What a tease! I’d get the message, but would have to blow my cover to respond.” Not true, now that you can…
! Instant Message while Appearing Offline
Maybe your studying and want to be left alone by everyone except, of course, the cute girl from math class. Maybe you robbed a bank and are hiding from everyone except your lawyer. There are many reasons to want most people thinking you’re offline. But what good is signing in if you can’t send a few IMs?
! Time Stamps – on every single message? That’s a Time Stampede!
See, down the minute, when every IM was sent or received. Makes for great evidence in court of law. “I didn’t do it. These timestamps prove I was IMing during the bank robbery.” Turn this on under Tools à Options à Messages à Show time stamps, then reopen your conversation windows.
No Surgery or Botox, But Windows Live Messenger Got a Serious Face Lift.
After years and years of building new features and sticking them in wherever, MSN Messenger started to look kinda like it lost a paintball fight. All working parts – but kinda haphazard. With Windows Live is moving toward a new look – a good-looking look where things make sense.
Orange you glad we didn’t choose hot pink?
Messenger is now, by default, orange. But for the haters…
! Pick Your Own Color – it’s more polite that picking your nose
Change the color of Messenger to anything you want…though I don’t recommend white, it doesn’t work rightL
Toning It Down—Internally known as: Turning off the Christmas Tree.
MSN Messenger is like the acid-trip of applications: crazy colors, shifting shapes and screwy sizes everywhere. We took great pains to tone it all down, some of the most noticeable attempts are:
· Simplified status icons:
· Simplified buddy list with “Hover for more information” functionality. Hover over contacts to see more detailed status, display pictures, and buttons to IM, SMS, Email, Share, or Call with one click. Click a name to see the contact card. Hover over the little IM and Email button to see email address.
Turn off this hover-feature in ToolsàOptionsàGeneral0àExpand my Contacts…
· Made options:
Use this button to see different views of your contact list, including sort by recently updated spaces:
Display picture functionality
· Right or left click on display pictures for a good time, especially in multipoint conversations
· Hide/Show Display Pictures in the conversation window by clicking on the To: contact area.
We were Framed
But no longer. In frameless mode, the down arrow let’s you access menus so you never have to show the frame again.
! No more scrolling headaches — The biggest pet-peeve but of the Messenger team
You know when you’re scrolling back up through a conversation looking for a phone number, a compliment, a link maybe, and then a new incoming IM makes the conversation jump back down, making you lose your place? Solved! With cool new scroll buttons.
Share Files Securely through Windows Live Messenger – this is big.
The “Sharing Folders ” feature lets you create a shared folder with each of your Messenger contacts. When either of you add/edit a file in your Shared Folder, we automatically share it between your computers the next time each of you sign in. I’ll ‘share’ the key aspects below.
I’ve never been a share-er How do I start?
· Through the contact card, dragging/dropping a file onto the conversation window or a buddy in the contact list, through the menus, and icons in the main window
· To stick with the old way, turn off Sharing folders through ToolsàOptionsàSharing Folders.
· Anti-virus integration with Windows Live Files Scan makes Sharing Folders more safe and secure.
· Shared files are sent over an encrypted channel
· For added protection, we’ve restricted more dangerous files such as executables, batch files, hidden/temporary/system files, scripts, etc.
· If you update a shared file (like edit a Word document) the changes will be propagated out to the other person when s/he signs in.
· And we only update the change itself, so if you fix a spleling mistake 😉 on a huge file, the update will happen almost instantly.
· If you both make changes while offline, one person’s will be adopted, the other’s will be put in a “Conflicts” folder for you two to sort out.
Sharing folders works by making local copies of files to your computer. If you sign into a different computer, we’ll give you the option to have all your sharing folders on that machine too.
Size Doesn’t Matter
· As my kindergarten teacher said, there’s no such thing as too much sharing. We’re not going to limit how much (file/share size) you share, though your internet connection might.
· And if, in the midst of receiving a big file, you need to go offline – rather than restarting later, sharing will pick up where it left off.
Sharing Folders works with special people
· People on Windows Live Messenger
· People who have not turned it off
Computer to Phone Calling—Look ma, no hands!
Is your girlfriend abroad in New Zealand? Does your sister hog the phone line? Did you drop your phone in the toilet? Not a problem. With a computer and an internet connection, call any phone, any where.
WL Messenger + MCI Web Calling is the Mac n’ Cheese of phone calling: cheap, easy & awesome!
· One click to call anyone in your contact list.
· We want your 2 cents àabout the cost/per minute almost anywhere in the world.
· Search integration makes it easy to look up a number and call
Voice Quality as Clear as Crystal Pepsi…
· But maybe clearer because it’s not carbonated. With a good headset or mic/speakers, you’ll feel like the people you call (or at least their disembodied voice) are in the same room.
One minute you’re an IM client, the next you’re a phone company?
· No…we’re playing nice with MCI to make this all work. We do the front end, they connect the call through MCI Web Calling
· We’re in beta in the US now, with the UK, France, Germany following Spain soon, and the rest not far behind.
Integration with Windows Live Video shows you short fun video clips of news, feature stories, goofy stuff, music videos, and other.
Click when you’re interested, ignore when you’re not. I’ve used this feature to follow a high-speed chase, see cats play basketball (badly),and watch the Kanye West Golddigger video. Gleams on the video (like gleams for spaces) will tell you when a new video’s posted.