Windows Live Messenger 8.1

Windows Live Messenger 8.1 Beta is now available for everyone to download and enjoy. It has a whole host of new features and comes to us just 4-months after the initial release, which is actually a pretty quick turn around. It is hard to believe that it has been out that long but what is even more surprising is that people are still reporting that there are compatibility problems with Windows Vista.

A majority of the problems stem from having Flash installed but I would have thought that the Windows Live Messenger would be nearly perfect on Vista since there is a download shortcut provided in the start menu by default.

This release isn’t just some under-the-hood work and actually has some new things included:

  • Roaming Identity  – Your display name follows you any place you sign into. Now your display picture and personal message will follow you too.
  • Contact Card – The contact card has gotten a updated look.
  • Emoticons, Winks, Backgrounds, Display Pictures – The menus have gotten an updated look.
  • SMS Phone Book – You now have a quick way to send SMS to a phone number or add phone numbers for your contacts.
  • New Contact Emotion – In 8.0 all our icons got an update but we forgot a very important one. The contact emoticon.
  • Status Menu includes Sign Out – We noticed people look in the status menu to sign out and so ta-da now you can sign out from the status menu.
  • Report abuse – Here is something you will hopefully never need to use, but it is there just in case.
  • Vista Presentation Mode – When you are in Presentation Mode on Vista Messenger will change your status to busy so you can avoid the embarrassing situation of everyone reading your IMs!
  • Behind the scenes changes – This release also includes changes to the “guts” of some of the features.

I used to be an MSN Messenger users and was pretty excited back when I found out about the Beta version of Windows Live Messenger. More recently, however, I have become very accustomed to using Google Talk which has won my heart over because of the simplicity that the program has to offer. It is overloaded with so many features that they get annoying (boy those Winks in Windows Live Messenger are something else…and not something I favor very much).

One thing that I did take note of was the “Report Abuse” feature. I’m not quite sure what that is because there isn’t much of a description, but I’m assuming that you can report other users to the Messenger Team. Hopefully this isn’t like AOL’s warning feature which is always a disaster since your friends think it is funny to see how many times they can warn the same person. I haven’t used AIM in a very long time but I assume that is still something they let you do.

Windows Live Messenger is definitely for the people who are looking for feature-rich applications and that is typically something I strive to find, but just not in a messenger client.

Note: If you try to pull up larger images of the screenshots that the Windows Live Messenger Blog has then in Firefox you’ll get a bunch of text…of course they work in Internet Explorer just fine though.

News Source: Windows Live Messenger Blog