Posted by Daniel

Wow, the latest beta posts are getting a lot of feedback and I thought that now would be a good time to share some details about one of the new features in WLM – the Video Carousel.

As everybody knows Messenger is a free application sponsored by ads – most of you noticed the ad banner at the bottom of the buddy list. We know, looking at ads is not on the "Top 10 things I like to do" for most people but we think there is value for the users in ads and we can make them attractive. On of our PMs, Jody suggested to put some puppies in there – everybody loves puppies but I don’t think that would have worked out. But we know you like videos and that’s the main reason why the Video Carousel was created.

Okay, but what is it and how does it work? The video carousel is replacing the ads banner and it rotates through a list of videos titles and ads. The video part shows a thumbnail of the video, a short description, a control bar used to play the video and to move back and forth between clips. Also we borrowed the gleam concept from the MSN Spaces integration to make it easy to know which videos you’ve already seen.

All the video titles are provided by MSN Videos in a form of an XML file which contains a list of RSS feeds and a few other pieces of information like how often the videos titles are loaded. If you are not lucky enough to have a beta test account and you want to see what kind of video are shown then go to MSN Videos or subscribe to the MSN Video RSS feeds.

Now let’s take some questions from our readers:

Q: This Video Rollercoaster makes me dizzy. Is there a way to turn it off?
A: Actually it’s called Video Carousel and yes, you can turn it off. Go to Tools / Options / General / Show Video Carousel in the main Messenger window. It will go back to the 7.5 style ads banner.

Q: I’m a very friendly dude and my buddy list is huge. Can I turn the ads off so I can have more space in the main window?
A: Sorry, you can’t turn the ads off. But you can use groups and the word wheel to manage your buddies.

Q: Can I use another video provider?
A: No, MSN Videos is the only video provider supported in Messenger.

Q: I love the Video Carousel, it’s the best thing since sliced bread. But how do I know when I get new videos?
A: I’m glad you asked that. You can turn on the new video alerts notifications – Tools / Options / Alerts and Sounds / Display alerts when new videos are available

Q: Can I change how fast the video and ads rotate?
A: Sorry, at this point it’s not possible.

[Responses to questions from comments]

Q: Some videos have an orange asterisk on the left side. What up with that?
A: The orange asterisk * means that it’s a new video. As soon as you play the video the asterisk goes away. It’s similar to the MSN Spaces update gleam.

Q: I’ve heard that this feature is a bandwidth sucker. Is that true?

A: The video does not play in the video carousel area – you have to click on it to watch the video in a separate window. To show a video ad in Messenger we download an xml file (around 10 KB) and a small jpeg file (around 2 KB). We are not downloading videos in background or any other large files. Imagine what would happen with our servers if 185+ million Messenger users would start downloading megabytes of files.