Preview of the new Windows Live Messenger

Preview of the new Windows Live Messenger

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We’ve spent the last few months posting about how we look at the industry, the key customer problems that are top-of-mind for us, and where we think we can improve the lives of our customers. Today in a speech at the Universidade de São Paulo in Brazil, Steve Ballmer is sharing a preview of the new Windows Live Messenger. In this post we want to talk more about our philosophy and approach for this new version. In subsequent posts we’ll go into more depth on different aspects of the experience.

Windows Live Messenger logo

As Chris laid out in his blog post last week, the world of instant messaging has evolved in the last 14 years. In the early days of IM, most of your close friends were on one IM network, connected using their PCs, and sent text-only instant messages back and forth. Today, people still want to stay in touch with their friends, but three things have changed:

  • IM has evolved. It has gone beyond text to video chat – people want to share photos, videos, and links, too. People still love IM – they just want it to do even more.
  • Social networks have changed how people communicate. Our second observation is that while people still primarily communicate with close friends, their communication has shifted from one IM network to a richer but more complex social landscape. Now, almost all of us communicate with close (and not so close) friends using social networks, other sharing sites, email, SMS, and IM – and we do so from our phones as often as from our PCs. Most people already have a primary social network they love, and they just don’t need another one. And although nearly everyone uses multiple services now, very few people we talk to want just “aggregation,” either. If all you do is copy and paste all the social feeds into one place, it can easily lead to a messy, combined list, half of which you're not really interested in anyway. Getting 50 random updates is less interesting than getting 5 from your family and close friends, and 1 cool video that 20 of your friends are commenting on.
  • People are spending more time away from their PCs. More and more, people are staying connected on their phones, and they're spending time browsing the web and in web-based email, rather than connected to a client program on their PCs. Any connection with friends needs to be able to follow you across the devices that you use throughout the day, and should integrate into the experiences you’re having on each of those devices.

With this context in mind, we set out to do three things with this version of Messenger.

  • Improving the IM experience. Hundreds of millions of people use Messenger every day, and we heard loud and clear that they wanted to do more in their conversations. We focused on improving the personal interactions with your close friends, so that you can continue to connect in even richer ways with the people you care about most.
  • Staying in touch with close friends. This begins with bringing together the most complete picture of what your friends are doing across your social networks and other sharing sites, and then helping you see at a glance what your favorite people are doing, wherever they’re doing it. This includes comprehensive integration with Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, and a wide range of other sharing sites.
  • Bringing Messenger with you to Hotmail, the web, and your phone. While the Windows PC is the best way to experience Messenger, we know that you spend a lot of time in web-based email, on your mobile phone, and browsing other websites. So we’ve built Messenger right into Hotmail, increased our support for SMS, and created Messenger apps for popular mobile phones.

Improving the IM experience

We know that hundreds of millions of people use Messenger every day and love it for what it provides – instant connection to their friends on Messenger. So we focused on making Messenger better for folks who love IM.

It can be difficult to have a meaningful online conversation about photos, videos, or website content when you're not looking at the same stuff at the same time. The new version of Messenger brings you richer photo and video sharing, high-definition video chat, video messages, games, and one-click access to files on your PC, search results from Bing, and photos and videos shared on SkyDrive, Facebook, and other sharing sites. And we've made it easier than ever to do these together – so you can have a high-definition video chat with your friend while clicking through a set of photos, letting you see and hear each other’s reactions while you share. We’ve also made it easier to manage multiple simultaneous conversations by putting each one in its own tab.

And of course, as part of our deeper integration with Facebook, later this year Messenger will support Facebook Chat, so you’ll be able to IM all your Facebook friends from within Messenger.

Picture of sharing photos during a video chat 

Staying in touch with close friends

Most people today visit at least one social network and dozens of content sharing sites, get email with photos and social notifications, and of course, maintain accounts in numerous places with different sets of friends and content. So we focused on connecting Messenger to the social networks you already use, and prioritizing the most important updates so you can quickly see what your favorite people are doing, wherever they’re doing it.

We know your close friends share using email, IM, and social networks. So we brought all of those together into a single view. The status from your Facebook friends who don’t use Messenger? Check. The photos your mom sent you as plain old e-mail attachments? Check. The Office docs you’re collaborating on with friends in SkyDrive? Check. And the stuff your favorite Messenger friends are doing on hundreds of sites they choose to share from? Check.

And since simple “aggregation” can make things worse instead of better, we focused on prioritizing the people that matter most to you, so you don’t miss the handful of important updates from your closest friends and family just because your college and work “friends” are broadcasting their whole life every minute of the day. Just tag your favorite people, and we optimize your feed for the stuff those people are doing. Of course, it’s not 100% exclusive to your favorites – the most interesting things from your other friends like photos, videos, and links (especially the ones being commented on a lot) are there too. This makes us a great companion to the services you already love like Facebook, Flickr, MySpace, LinkedIn and more – and when you have time to go beyond those most important updates, diving deeper into those sites is just a click away.

Lastly, we recognized that we could connect your social updates to the power of the Windows PC and really bring it to life. So we took advantage of the latest advances in hardware and graphics to give you a modern social experience. This means that Messenger brings beautiful high-resolution views of the photos, videos, and links that your friends are sharing, right to your desktop. View their Facebook albums, gorgeously presented so that they're fun to browse through and easy to comment on. Messenger is also the simplest way to update your status and instantly post it to other sharing sites you use. You can even bring your photo albums right into high-definition video chats with your friends.

Here’s a picture of the new social view for Messenger:

Picture of the new social view of the main Messenger window 

Bringing Messenger with you to Hotmail, the web, and your phone

People are increasingly needing to stay in touch while away from their primary PC, so we are bringing Messenger to the places you communicate from. Our upcoming release will include not just Messenger itself, but also an update to Hotmail that puts Messenger front and center there, too (we’ll talk more about that soon). And we’ll bring Messenger to breadth broad range of mobile experiences, from SMS and simple browsing, to new Messenger apps for popular smartphones. The new Messenger Companion add-on for Internet Explorer will let you share links and comments from whatever website you're on. And we’ll deliver an updated version of the the Messenger Web Toolkit (now called Messenger Connect), so websites can embed Messenger friends, conversations, and social updates directly into their experiences.

The new Windows Live Messenger

The way people socialize and connect with their friends is changing. We designed the new Messenger with these changes in mind so you can continue to use it to connect to your closest friends, wherever they are, and wherever you are. As Chris announced earlier, we’ll be releasing this to a limited number of individuals externally in the very near future, before expanding to a broader public beta, and finally to the full public release.

Here’s a video to show you a little bit of what is in store:

You can also learn more about the upcoming Messenger release at

We look forward to sharing this with all of you soon, and getting your feedback!

Piero Sierra and Jeff Kunins
Group Program Managers for Windows Live Messenger and Social

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  • TGP1994
    3 Posts

    @Hemingray: I don't see how dropping XP support means us XP users can use it, I think you might have contradicted yourself there.

    With every release of messenger, the chat box seems to be getting smaller and smaller. Sure, the backgrounds are nice, but I'd like to be able to see what I'm typing, too.

    It's also nice that it's put into one interface. I am wondering though, if someone doesn't have a user icon, how will we know what tab to click without hovering over each one?

  • Hemingray
    85 Posts

    to all those commenting about the loss of XP support, It doesn't mean you can't still use WLM. As for this, it looks neat but I'm not into the idea of tabbed chats. Way too much possibility of an IMing error.

  • @Joe Sales - thanks for your comment and feedback. It appears you have copied and pasted the same comment at least on one other blog post. Please refrain from copying and pasting the same comment on multiple blog posts.

  • I dont know if i am the only one with this comment. but i don't agree how you will be dropping compatibility with Windows XP. I personally don't think it's fair to those who use Windows XP and can't afford to get any of the newer versions of Windows. and for those who can't afford to get laptops or desktop computers. So well those who have anything higher then Windows XP will have the pleasure of using the new version of windows live messenger. and those like myself who will be stuck with XP, will only have the last updated version of Windows Live Messenger before it goes over to Wave 4. Will you guys be doing anything to compensate to those who will be stuck with the old messenger. I honestly was looking forward to the new messenger as i always do when a new update comes, but after reading what ive read, i am honestly disappointed and i know that i will be considering going to another messenger service.

  • When released?

  • cokasi
    1 Posts

    How do download?

  • mbadsey
    9 Posts

    This is great but there are still adverts and i think its silly that you say "ads are there to help keep the service free" users Pay for Windows Computers but they get adverts everywhere, Microsoft Makes millions daily but yet they still want more and get greedy all users i speak to on my MSN hate the adverts where they move the mouse and get bombarded with a Rollover Ad that wont go i hope there not still like that in here because that will offer a poor service but the improvements look good

  • someone
    156 Posts

    XP is not dead Microsoft but are doing planned obsolescence. It is still the most used OS (more than Vista and 7 combined. Granted a fair share of it is corporate.) Speaking in general, saying that users should "move on" from over 55-60% of the market is questionable at best. You make this sound as if it's about the users, rather than the company ignoring over 55-60% of the market.

  • anonymuos
    87 Posts

    Messenger is FAIL without XP support, Microsoft's most successful ever and currently overwhelmingly dominant OS.

  • @hitmouse - thanks for reporting this.  We agree this is lame.  We've been working with the vendor that made this site for us to get it fixed.  :p

  • hitmouse
    96 Posts

    @Pierro: I can't believe you've still got sites that don't do proper error trapping. The security issues....

  • Xepol
    45 Posts

    Am I the only one wondering if the thing will still do text in a version or two?

    It occurs to me that the devteam might not quite get it.  Most of the extra functionality people want is already in Messenger Plus.  Has there been any attempt to bring that functionality into the core product?  Not that I could see.  Instead we get more and more bling that no one wants.

    I mean HONESTLY - when was the last time you used a wink?  Ya, that went over so well that the companies that tried selling it switched to giving it away in the hopes the extra traffic might generate some ad revenue at least.

    Somes more is just more clutter.

  • Jose Sa
    1 Posts

    Personally, I'm scared. I use WLM as a communication tool and now it seems that it will be so bloated that even for that it might unusable.

    But in the end, I just hope that you finally fix the bug that is dropping the messages that I send to my contacts quietly. Its annoying and dangerous for whom use it as a communication tool.

  • @Hitmouse - the windowslivepreview site has been experiencing some intermittent failures, we're looking into it.  Tthanks for the report.

  • 7flavor
    352 Posts

    So you're just leaving 55-60% of your XP customers? Making them pay the Messenger tax which is a copy of Vista or 7? Don't tell me Messenger requires some Windows Vista only API. I just switched happily to ooVoo which lets me too multiperson AV chat too.

  • sp1der
    35 Posts

    when will be available for download?

  • i Just Love Live Messenger, will there be a custom sing in sound in newer version?

  • hitmouse
    96 Posts

    It's a bit embarrassing when shows nothing but .NET server errors.

    Server Error in '/' Application.

    Sequence contains no elements

    Description: An unhandled exception occurred during the execution of the current web request. Please review the stack trace for more information about the error and where it originated in the code.

    Exception Details: System.InvalidOperationException: Sequence contains no elements

    Source Error:

    An unhandled exception was generated during the execution of the current web request. Information regarding the origin and location of the exception can be identified using the exception stack trace below.

    Stack Trace:

    [InvalidOperationException: Sequence contains no elements]

      System.Linq.Enumerable.First(IEnumerable`1 source) +730976

      System.Data.Objects.ELinq.ObjectQueryProvider.<GetElementFunction>b__0(IEnumerable`1 sequence) +40

      System.Data.Objects.ELinq.ObjectQueryProvider.ExecuteSingle(IEnumerable`1 query, Expression queryRoot) +59

      System.Data.Objects.ELinq.ObjectQueryProvider.System.Linq.IQueryProvider.Execute(Expression expression) +109

      System.Linq.Queryable.First(IQueryable`1 source) +269

      Wave.Localization.LocaleSettings.get_CurrentLocaleID() in Localization.cs:50

      Wave.Models.ChannelEntityContext..cctor() in ChannelRepository.cs:333

    [TypeInitializationException: The type initializer for 'Wave.Models.ChannelEntityContext' threw an exception.]

      Wave.Models.ChannelRepository.ChannelExists(String channelName) in ChannelRepository.cs:204

      Wave.Controllers.ChannelController.Launch(String channelName, String locale) in ChannelController.cs:20

      lambda_method(ExecutionScope , ControllerBase , Object[] ) +136

      System.Web.Mvc.ActionMethodDispatcher.Execute(ControllerBase controller, Object[] parameters) +17

      System.Web.Mvc.ReflectedActionDescriptor.Execute(ControllerContext controllerContext, IDictionary`2 parameters) +178

      System.Web.Mvc.ControllerActionInvoker.InvokeActionMethod(ControllerContext controllerContext, ActionDescriptor actionDescriptor, IDictionary`2 parameters) +24

      System.Web.Mvc.<>c__DisplayClassd.<InvokeActionMethodWithFilters>b__a() +53

      System.Web.Mvc.ControllerActionInvoker.InvokeActionMethodFilter(IActionFilter filter, ActionExecutingContext preContext, Func`1 continuation) +258

      System.Web.Mvc.<>c__DisplayClassf.<InvokeActionMethodWithFilters>b__c() +20

      System.Web.Mvc.ControllerActionInvoker.InvokeActionMethodWithFilters(ControllerContext controllerContext, IList`1 filters, ActionDescriptor actionDescriptor, IDictionary`2 parameters) +193

      System.Web.Mvc.ControllerActionInvoker.InvokeAction(ControllerContext controllerContext, String actionName) +300

      System.Web.Mvc.Controller.ExecuteCore() +104

      System.Web.Mvc.ControllerBase.Execute(RequestContext requestContext) +36

      System.Web.Mvc.ControllerBase.System.Web.Mvc.IController.Execute(RequestContext requestContext) +7

      System.Web.Mvc.<>c__DisplayClass8.<BeginProcessRequest>b__4() +34

      System.Web.Mvc.Async.<>c__DisplayClass1.<MakeVoidDelegate>b__0() +21

      System.Web.Mvc.Async.<>c__DisplayClass8`1.<BeginSynchronous>b__7(IAsyncResult _) +12

      System.Web.Mvc.Async.WrappedAsyncResult`1.End() +53

      System.Web.Mvc.MvcHandler.EndProcessRequest(IAsyncResult asyncResult) +30

      System.Web.Mvc.MvcHandler.System.Web.IHttpAsyncHandler.EndProcessRequest(IAsyncResult result) +7

      System.Web.CallHandlerExecutionStep.System.Web.HttpApplication.IExecutionStep.Execute() +8678910

      System.Web.HttpApplication.ExecuteStep(IExecutionStep step, Boolean& completedSynchronously) +155

  • liquidboy, perhaps before commenting you can actually download the product from a warez site and try it.  No you haven't, so I will say again, it, because if you knew what you were talking about you would know that amongst the warez community there is a lot of disappointment amongst those who have tried the new windows live products.  MS needs to release this to beta now and get public feed back instead of putting in what they think people want.

    Go watch your video's, it wont even show you much compared to what you can see by downloading it from a warez site.

  • I want to download news vers

  • The website seems to be down. However, seems to be up, but we need some VIP log in account... That's weird.

  • alienhealer: look again Messenger hasnt really changed much. You must be talking about the new piece, the social view. You don't need to use that if you dont want to. You can still use messenger with pretty much the same look (with some extra features like tabs)...

    Next time before commenting watch the videos...

  • @Calvin -- thanks for the feedback.  Of course, we couldn't mention every partner we have, and we picked some of the best examples that particularly highlight how we're partnering well across the Web.  In addition to Wordpress we support most of the world's leading blogging platforms, and yes of course all of the Windows Live services like Skydrive, Groups, and Spaces are included as well.

  • I find it interesting (and a little disturbing) that when you talk  in the video about blogging the only example you use is Wordpress. Yes it's good but why not promote your own Live Spaces blogging service??

  • please release the beta.  This preview shows a messenger that is just awful.  The photo's on the net of Live Mail follow the same pattern of taking a good product, bloating and wrecking it.  Release the beta and listen to your users on what we want in it, not what you think we want in it.  So far all I see is a new windows live that i DON'T want to use.

  • A340-600
    13 Posts

    Lovely green leaves wallpaper. Care to share it? :-)

  • dovella
    303 Posts

    and download?

  • ed
    1 Posts

    Will love to try it. this are good news