Yesterday Microsoft invited only 5,000 testers to try out Windows Live Messenger version 9 in beta which will eventually replace Windows Live Messenger 8.5. We were actually invited to be one of those testers and as luck would have it, you’ll be able to try it too.  The download has been leaked, and Softpedia has it available. Before you go and download it, I’ll just mention a few of the new features to keep your eye out for.


  • Sign in to multiple locations at the same time (on more than one computer)
  • Use an animated display picture (GIF) – they have two already available, but you can browse for your own
  • Create your own custom signature sound (this is what others will hear when you sign-in
  • Put a link in your personal status message

The signature sound feature is actually kinda cool. To access it, go to the tools menu and click “change your signature sound.” You’ll notice that they have a few sounds to choose from, but you can add a new sound of your choice.  Clicking “add a new sound” will pull up your your music file where you can select any song that you’d like to use.  You’ll be given five seconds of a song, and you can use your mouse to select the specific five seconds that you want. You can also opt to have the music fade in and/or fade out. Once you have the five seconds you want, just click “done” and you’ll be all set to go!

live messenger 9

Not only can you select a sound that others will hear when you sign in, but you can select a sound that you want to hear when a specific person signs-in on your list. It actually reminds me of ring-tones on a phone and how you can select a certain ring-tone for each contact on. They call it “per contact sounds” and to use it, just right click on a contact and click “choose sound for this contact.”

Aside from the new features mentioned, there were also some changes made under-the-hood. They include updates to the sign-in process (it’s supposed to be faster), connectivity, and changes with texting IM’s, voice and video features. Windows Live Contacts Server is also running in the background so that your contacts’ information is always up-to-date.

In the email we received, they mentioned that this is a private beta and is intended for a small audience. In bold, they put “if the build gets out too widely and starts causing problems on the service we may have to shut it down.  We don’t want to do that and we know you don’t want that to happen, so please keep it to yourself.” Obviously someone didn’t keep it to themselves so who knows, they may end up shutting it down. If you download it, don’t be disappointed if you end up having to go back to version 8.5.