Microsoft Instant Messenger Gets Better: Windows Live Messenger 8 Beta
The latest Microsoft Instant Messenger, Windows Live Messenger 8, is an all-round instant messenger, with advanced voice and video communication abilities, integrated collaboration tools, and several more truly advanced features including PC-to-phone, SMSing and more.
The highly promising new instant messaging platform from Microsoft, integrates everything from live collaborative photo viewing to search results sharing giving now truly visible hints of how important the instant messaging platform will be in the future of conferencing, collaboration and live presentation activities online.
Windows Live Messenger is the latest release of Microsoft's popular IM client and it is currently in beta stage.
Windows Live Messenger Beta gets touted by Microsoft as "the next-generation MSN Messenger" and after my own extended testing on it, I can assure you that, while I would not yet recommend Live Messenger as your immediate next IM out there, this new release has truly an impressive set of integrated features and capabilities that are a must to see and learn from.
The new Live Messenger includes most everything MSN Messenger already had, including your contact list, emoticons, winks, and instant access to your friends via text, voice, and video.
But this new edition, makes Live Messenger a springboard for several other conferencing-like activities, though limited to a one-to-one collaboration setting. Application sharing, whiteboarding, file sharing are now all available to you directly from within your IM.
Some of the other interesting new additions include the ability to connect and share documents with contacts in a supereasy fashion, a fully automated message archival feature for all your IM exchanges, greatly enhanced video conferencing (one on one only), integrated search, integrated and navigable advertising tabs and paid SMS-texting abilities.
Windows Live Messenger also premieres Microsoft own version of PC-to-phone calls at convenient per minute rates. Furthermore, users can now send instant messages even when they are set to appear as offline (invisible) and can also send messages to contacts not online at that moment (no matter if effectively offline or set to appear as if). Like on Skype or Yahoo Messenger those messages will be delivered to the recipient as soon as she goes online.
Everything is limited to a maximum of two parties and there is no cost or subscription to pay to access anyone of these services.
On the negative side, some of these facilities do not yet work reliably (application sharing), are badly designed (whiteboard) or need lots of more improvement before becoming truly useful. Feedback and error messages are often inadequate to explain to the non-technical user what is happening and the documentation available is yet insufficient for a product of this complexity.
Not everything works intuitively in Live Messenger and the user interface remains one of the major stumbling blocks to this instant messaging application. Live Messenger UI is cluttered with too many things, including now an excessive amount of advertising or commercially related information elements.
Worst of all the overall interface remains under the domain of north american teenage audience preferences, giving little in to becoming more usable, serious, and appealing to professional audiences wanting to leverage this powerful communication and collaboration tool for non-trivial uses.
For the good that I can see coming from Microsoft in being out there first in making the instant messenger the springboard for all collaboration and conferencing activities online, there is as much bad in the way that this wealth of components, features and tools have been integrated together and served to the end user. Here Microsoft has still a long way to go and it is therefore very open now to competitors offering that will replicate, enhance and simplify this ambitious and rightful vision that has been so poorly implemented.
This is why I have spent six hours testing the new Microsoft Live Messenger 8 Beta, and with the generous help from Marjolein Hoekstra, Livia Iacolare and Nico Canali I have put together a review of all that I was able to test.
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