posted by Steven

We know people like to personalize Messenger. Colorization, display picture, friendly name and personal status message have been the main surfaces for self-expression in Messenger for a while. In this next version of Messenger we wanted to give users a new surface that allowed them to both theme their main window with pictures and images that were meaningful to them but also make them social by applying them to the conversation windows of your network. Scenes is one of those features that when people see it for the first time they get it right away. Think of it as the wallpaper in your IM salon. When you change your scene your network gets to keep up with you and your mood.

So you might be asking yourself why would I want a Scene? Well here is an example of how I used scenes in Messenger. When I returned from family summer vacation in Southern California I wanted to stay in a “beach” mood. Messenger and Windows Live made that easy. This is what I did.

There were three photos my wife took that really summed up the great time we had in California.


The weather was beautiful and the waves were awesome. (That isn’t me). The third photo was a picture of my daughter on the carousel in Long Beach.

When I launched Messenger I clicked on the curl in the upper right corner of the main window of Messenger:

This opens up the Select a Scene dialog. From here I could browse to the picture I wanted to theme my main window and the conversation windows of the people I IM with. Messenger comes with a few scenes which you can use or you can pick your own by clicking the Browse button from this dialog. You can pick any PNG or JPEG photo to paint your main window. Be sure to pick one that can scale larger for the conversation window of your contacts. They’ll get to see what you picked!

From this dialog I can also let Messenger auto-select a complimentary matching color for the rest of the Messenger main window, or I can further customize it by selecting my own favorite color.

You can preview the changes by clicking the Apply button.

You can also just drag and drop photos directly on to the top of the main window from Photo Gallery or from your pictures folders. When you do this Messenger auto-selects a matching color as well.

Here’s the video we posted the other day on updating your scene just in case you didn’t see it.

On Monday I set my scene to the picture of the surfer. When my friends IM’d me the conversation window  had the picture of the surfer. Lots of people asked me about my vacation and I shared other photo albums with them on Windows Live.

On Tuesday I set my scene to the picture of the sunset and Wednesday the picture of the carousel.

The nice part about setting the pictures every day was that every time I launched Messenger I was reminded of all of the good times we had and in every conversation window there was something my friends and I could talk about.

It’s also important to note that others (currently only others that are using the Beta version) will see your scene when you IM with them.  This is by design.  One of the product managers referred to scenes as analogous to the clothes you wear.  Many people use fashion as a way to express themselves and scenes give you an opportunity to do that digitally, through Windows Live Messenger.

This is V1 of scenes and I am really interested to get people’s feedback on the feature so that can take it to the next level in the next version of Messenger.