Windows Live Messenger 9′s beta has begun, with beta testers getting access to the software on Microsoft Connect. If you applied for the beta, check your email or check Connect to see if you’ve been accepted. Here are some screenshots of it someone leaked out:
The middle screenshots show off the new feature, which allows you to be signed in to your account on multiple computers at the same time. You can even click to sign yourself out of a remote computer from any computer, which is very convenient.
The last screenshot shows off another new feature, which lets you import custom sounds to associate with each of your friends when they log in. Not only can you choose from a list of sounds, you can select a five second sample from any music file on your computer to use that as the sound. The interface for choosing the sample is so clean and simple, I feel it should be integrated into the operating system for all programs to use to manipulate music and video clips.
Microsoft has confirmed that a new version of its Messenger instant messaging software will ship with and when Mac Office 2008 hits stores. While we don’t know anything about features, or even if it’ll be named Windows Live Messenger or MSN Messenger (presumably the new name, though), at least Mac fans are getting a new version. Not only that, but work is already going on for Messenger 7, which will be the first Mac version with audio/video capabilities.
You can now get the code for Windows Live Messenger IM Control for your website. This lets you include Live Messenger on your blog, so your readers can send you IMs without needing a screen name, or your customers can ask support questions on any website. The code is extremely simple, will run in any blog that can take a YouTube embed (using a simple IFRAME, rather than SCRIPT tags), and it doesn’t reveal your IM screen name to potential spammers.
Here it is, embedded in this post after the break:
It’s after the break, because it seems to break my site template in both IE and Opera, and doesn’t seem to be working. I’ll try to figure out why and fix it. If it does work for you, send me a message to let me know.
Windows Live Calendar, available within Live Hotmail, should also be available today to all users. Just sign into your Live ID account, then go to calendar.live.com, and you should be set. Adding events is easy, just double-click on a date, and you can set the basic details (or click to edit advanced options). You can create multiple calendars, with multiple options for sharing or setting co-owners of calendars. I’m enjoying playing around with it the last half hour, and it even sort of/almost works in Opera.
The news you need to know right now: Live.com email addresses are available right now. Not just Live.com, but Live.at, live.be, windowslive.com, live.co.uk and many more. Here is the whole list, courtesy LiveSide:
HONG KONG LIVE.HK
SOUTH AFRICA LIVE.CO.ZA
If you’d like to make it easier for people to contact you via your blog (or MySpace or whereever you can post code), Windows Live Messenger has a site where you can create a nice-looking button in seconds that will get them in touch with your Live Messenger screen name. You could even add the button to your email or forum signature, and there are multiple button designs, colors and taglines available to customize it for your needs.
I don’t like that the button’s source code exposes your Live ID, and thus your Hotmail email address, with no effort by Microsoft to obfuscate the email. That’s the kind of mistake Google makes every time it launches a product, and I expect smarter moves from Microsoft. As a result, clicking the button up there will launch an IM window, but you’ll be talking to my good friend firstname.lastname@example.org, not me.
After discovering a particular security vulnerability, Microsoft has decided to force all users of MSN Messenger and Windows Live Messenger on Windows Vista and XP to upgrade to the latest version, Windows Live Messenger 8.1. Many users are holdouts, sticking with older version like 6.2, 7.0, 7.5 and 8.0, but on trying to sign in they will be forced to upgrade or not use the software. Get ready for a lot of angry users.
LiveSide details a service coming called Messenger Presence, which will allow users on your website/blog to send you messages from a Messenger window. They’ll be able to see when you’re online, send you anonymous messages, and even hold two-way IM conversations all from the web browser. If the service features your Live Messenger status messages, it can present a serious challenge to Twitter, if you ask me.
Microsoft finally delivered the first Windows Live Suite, a single installer that allows you to install a number of Windows Live programs as a single download that updates regularly. Go to this site and configure your 1.8 megabyte download, picking from these products:
Windows Live Mail – the ad-supported desktop email client that integrates well with Windows Live Hotmail, but lets you add any regular email account, plus RSS feeds, spell checking, PhotoMail and Windows Live Contacts. Replaces Outlook Express in Windows XP and Windows Mail in Windows Vista.
Windows Live Photo Gallery – software for managing, finding, sharing, tagging and editing photos. Replaces Windows Photo Gallery in Vista and is a completely new feature for XP.
Windows Live Writer – blog posting tool, supporting almost all popular blogging software. Considered one of the best products in its category.
Windows Live Messenger – instant messaging, compatible with Yahoo Messenger. By getting it as part of the Suite, you don’t have to worry as much about installing new versions.
Windows Live Sign-In assistant – required install, helps you sign in to Windows Live ID. When you visit a Windows Live ID site in your browser, the sign-in assistant can help out by displaying large buttons for various Live IDs and, in some cases, letting you just click on the account you want to sign in.
Windows Live OneCare Family Safety – parental control software, allows parents to monitor and restrict a child’s internet access
Windows Live Toolbar – Internet Explorer toolbar, very powerful toolbar for accessing Windows Live sites and services.
All the software included features newer updated versions. Live Messenger has some bugs fixed. Live Mail has a new List View for contacts, contacts import/export improvements, toolbar customization, Quick Views, improved Layout Dialog options, changing your sign in account, Photo E-Mail updates and Newsgroup updates.
Live Writer is hugely improved. The new version has video insertion (from Soapbox, including your own account, and other video websites), image uploading to Blogger/PicasaWeb, the ability to publish XHTML-style markup, 28 new languages, printing blog posts, justifying and aligning post text, and better image handling, including a fix for the blurry images problem, in addition to bug fixes and installation issues.
Live Photo Gallery gets improved color adjustment and cropping capabilities, image sharpening, shadow and highlight levels, image resizing, batch image resizing, a picture import tool that grabs pictures from your camera in a much better way than Vista or XP do, publishing photos to Windows Live Spaces and videos to MSN Soapbox. This is the first public beta of this software, also.
One complaint: The Suite is not yet available for 64-bit systems.
Curiously, the Suite offers to set your homepage to MSN.com, not Live.com, which probably indicates the change in strategy away from the personalized homepage.
Microsoft and Nokia announced an agreement bring Windows Live applications to the Nokia S60 phones in 11 countries. Customers will have the Windows Live Suite available on their phone, including Windows Live Hotmail, Messenger, Contacts and Spaces. LiveSide has some details and screenshots, including that Live Hotmail will not feature push email (it does have that on Windows Mobile phones), but that the phone’s camera can take pictures and video and attach them to emails.
Live Contacts. Once you sign in for the first time your Live Contacts is auto-magically synchronized within the address book of the Nokia device. As well as names, address’s, email and the other usual stuff what’s nice about this, and I think pretty unique is that the online presence and status of your contacts show up within the phone list. So now from within the device address book you can find whoever you want to communicate with and leverage the presence/status to determine the best way to reach them.
Messenger. At sign-in you can change your online picture and your status. Once online you obviously can browse your messenger contacts and take part in multiple conversations as you would expect. What I love is that the services integrate features from within the phone, so when you are within a conversation you can send a voice clip, file or picture – either from the gallery or snap one with the camera. When I think about how powerful voice and pictures are this enables a great scenario for traveling: sign-in, find your friend and start conversation, then speak “hey honey, I just got into the hotel in Sydney, look at my amazing view” and then take a picture out of your hotel room of the Opera House.
Hotmail. So here there is good integration with the Nokia email client and your Hotmail gets loaded into a separate folder within the client. Because the emails are downloaded they are available when you are offline. Right now your email isn’t synchronized auto-magically, but its a simple process to goto options, select sync etc. When you are composing an email, just like messenger the phone features are integrated so that you can insert a picture, voice clip, video or other phone right into the email message.
Spaces. Not surprisingly there is good Spaces support. On Nokia devices there is an application called ‘online share’ which comes with plug-in’s for Flickr and Vox and now we added Spaces support. There is a simple process to activate the service by adding your Live ID and once that is done the Gallery is now Live enabled. It’s super easy, select the photo you want, goto options, open online service and it will promote you to add a title and text and the the image is load up to your blog.
My Opera web browser, normally the king of stability, crashed and completely screwed up my saved tabs, so I’m posting everything old right now, in order to set things right.
Windows Live Messenger is now blocking users from receiving messages containing .info web addresses, in order to thwart spammers. They were already blocking files with a .pif extension and addresses with download.php and staff.php. Someone finally got a hand on the complete Messenger ban list, which you can see below:
Windows Live Messenger’s I’m Initiative, which allows Messenger users to add an icon directing a portion of advertising revenue to the charity of their choice, has contributed to the growth of Live Messenger. Over the four months of the program for which data is available, Messenger has been outpacing its rivals, enjoying growth of up to 8.7% a month, while Yahoo and AOL have combined for no more than 3.8% growth, according to ComScore numbers.
In the 5 months so far over $35,000 has been raised, which is a pretty good total considering that only users in the US are able to raise money. However as each of the ten charities is guaranteed to received $100,000 at the end of the first year, this potentially leaves Microsoft another $900,000 or so to meet (based on the current rates).
Here’s the second video blog for InsideMicrosoft, fourth overall, and the last before my stiches came out (about two hours ago). Typing is still a pain, but expect new blog posts as the weekend dies down.
I think this is the best camera angle so far. I had to tape my camera to a lamp to get it, though. I need a tripod, bad.
Here’s my second video blog post since tearing up my hand, the first for InsideMicrosoft. The highlight is definitely the demo of the new New York buildings in Windows Live Maps 3D, so I think you are really going to enjoy it.
If you created the Child Account at 17, and are now 18 or 19, there is absolutely no means for changing your account to an Adult Account.
So, if you were honest and gave your real age, and that age was under 18 at the time, you can’t use the most prominent feature of the update, and you have no means of showing that you are now over 18. Worse, why did Microsoft block this in the first place? Many Live Messenger users on the PC are under 18, since the Terms of Service only require you to be 13, so why block it on the Xbox?
Microsoft seemed to have forgotten that a significant percentage of gamers are these kids, especially on Xbox Live (have you ever heard them talking? Oy), and left out a huge portion of its userbase. Telling teenagers they can’t instant message is like telling an old person they can’t complain about society; it just doesn’t work. Microsoft’s Trixie has said they are working on a fix for the Fall update, but that’s pissing off a lot of kids (who, in case you haven’t heard, aren’t very patient).
What options do you have now? Basically none. You’d have to create a new Xbox Live account, which would cost you all your Gamerscore, and you’d have to pay the subscription for Xbox Live Gold all over again (if you have one). Microsoft didn’t test the Child Account feature properly, and didn’t consider IM usage by teens to be important, and definitely screwed the pooch on this one.
When Microsoft announced the Windows Live Messenger support for the Xbox 360 last month, it also announced a special peripheral for the Xbox 360, a Text Input Device, or TID, that would attach to the bottom of a 360 controller and allow for text entry through its tiny keyboard. Now, despite how good of an announcement it was, all I could thing of was how awful Text Input Device was as far as names go. I said:
As a companion to the new feature, Microsoft will sell the (poorly named) Text Input Device, a little keyboard that attaches to the bottom of the Xbox 360 controller, connecting through the headset port.
Microsoft delivered the Spring 2007 update for the Xbox 360 Dashboard software yesterday, as promised. The centerpiece of the update are the new Windows Live Messenger features, which let you chat through your 360 with anyone on your Live Messenger contact list. You can pick up the Text Input Device to attach to your 360 controller and quickly type out messages to buddies.
Other changes include a new popup when you get an Achievement that describes the Achievement and lists the Gamerscore you’ve earned, enhanced family settings for voice and video chat, and the Xbox Live Marketplace getting its own blade. Xbox Live Arcade now lets you see what your friends are playing, compare leaderboards and Achievements of your friends, and better Tell A Friend features for boasting about your skills.
Also new is an option to auto-download Xbox Live Arcade demos so you can check them out at any time, new progressive downloading so you can watch and move around a video while it is in middle of downloading, a new mode that goes into a low-power state but finishes your download, then shuts off completely, the display shows the name of the game currently in the tray.
You can also now switch aspect ratios (auto, letterbox, zoom, stretch and native), it shows folder hierarchy for connected devices, bookmarks remember where you left off when last watching every video, better navigation in Marketplace downloads, new skippable chapters in videos, information bar now contains progress bar, you can now stream Windows Media DRM files from a PC, remaining disk space warnings, and screensaver is disabled when viewing photos.
And, finally, they’ve added new video codec support, adding H.264 up to 10 Mbps peak, Baseline, Main, and High profiles with 2 channel AAC LC, and MPEG-4 Part 2 up to 5 Mbps peak, Simple Profile with 2 channel AAC LC. Engadget notes this makes the 360 better than the Apple TV in every way, and they have an image gallery of all the changes.
Also, Microsoft is working on a way to change the email address associated with your Xbox Live account. The reason: If you can’t change it, how will you connect it to your Live Messenger account, if you haven’t already?
Microsoft has confirmed that an update to the Xbox 360 Dashboard is coming the week of May 7th, and it will bring a lot of cool new features. Included will be Windows Live Messenger support, which will display your Messenger contact list on Xbox Live and allow you to send messages from your game console. As a companion to the new feature, Microsoft will sell the (poorly named) Text Input Device, a little keyboard that attaches to the bottom of the Xbox 360 controller, connecting through the headset port.
Messenger contacts will be able to see your Gamertag and current game status, and you can chat with up to six friends at the same time. Other new features include giving the Xbox Live Marketplace its own blade (in order to improve the interface), achievement updates will now show more information, a new low power mode which auto-shuts down after completeing downloads, watching partially download movies, and many smaller tweaks.
Want to help out some good causes, at the same time you are chatting with a buddy about some inane crap (American Idol comes to mind)? Well, Microsoft is giving Windows Live Messenger users the chance to help put money in the coffers of some charities while saying ROTFL (what is this, 1998?) as part of their “I’M Initiative. Just add some letters to your display name in Live Messenger, and a share of the advertising revenue made during your chat sessions (yes, IM clients have to pay the bills, too) will go to the organization of your choice.
Yes, not only do you choose to do good, but you choose where the good should be going. Add these to any part of your display name (bonus points for putting it in the middle of a word or phrase) and the super-giving powers activate: