MSN Messengers

Windows Live Messenger, formerly MSN Messenger, is an instant messaging client for Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008, Windows Vista, and Windows Mobile, first released on December 13, 2005 by Microsoft.It is part of Microsoft's Windows Live set of online services. The current stable version is Windows Live Messenger 2008 (also known as version 8.5), which was released on November 6, 2007.

New features

To the features available in MSN Messenger, Windows Live Messenger adds the following:

Sharing folders

The Sharing Folder feature of Windows Live Messenger is an alternative to the "direct transfer" method of file distribution. When a user wants to deliver a file to another person on his or her contact list, the "sharing folder" window appears, which is an individualized representation of all previously shared items.

When files are added to the "sharing folder" for that particular person, the file will automatically be transferred to the corresponding computer when they are online. This means that the folder is literally "shared" between two computers. If a user deletes a file, for example, the file will also be deleted from the corresponding computer's shared folder.

To minimize risk of virus-infected transfers, the "sharing folder" feature is bundled with an anti-virus program. The "sharing folder" feature can only be used on computers with NTFS-formatted hard disks.


PC-to-phone calls

In addition to PC-to-PC calls that have been supported in previous versions, Windows Live Messenger now supports PC-to-phone calls with Windows Live Call. In the US, this feature is supported by Verizon, branded as "Verizon Web Calling". Orange France also has a similar service. This feature is only available in selected countries, including the US, the UK (Verizon planning to end service in August 2008), France, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Ireland, Finland, Belgium, Spain, and Italy.

Yahoo! Messenger

On October 13, 2005, Yahoo! and Microsoft annoaunced plans to introduce interoperability between their two messengers,creating the second largest instant messaging user base worldwide: 40 percent of all users. The announcement comes after years of third-party interoperability success (most notably, Trillian, Pidgin) and criticisms from Google that the major real time communications services were locking their networks. Microsoft has also had talks with AOL in an attempt to introduce further interoperability, but so far, AOL seems unwilling to participate.
Interoperability between Yahoo! and Windows Live Messenger was launched 12 July, 2006.This allows Yahoo! and Windows Live Messenger users to chat (using text or voice) to each other without the need to create an account on the other service, provided both contacts use the latest versions of the clients.

Other clients

Windows Live Messenger 9 is expected to improve multi-client support, adding Google Talk, AOL, ICQ and Jabber to the list.

Offline messaging

One can send messages to contacts who are offline; they will receive the messages once they come online.

Additionally, one can start conversations even when his or her status is set to Appear Offline, similar to behaviour in Yahoo! Messenger and ICQ. If talking to someone who has an older MSN Messenger client, they will lose the ability to talk to you after a short period of no activity, due to their client thinking you are offline. As Windows Live Messenger has now been made available on several phones, a new trend has appeared where people send messages over Windows Live Messenger to each other through an Internet connection, rather than SMS messages.

Other changes

  •    The status "On the phone" from the previous version was renamed to "In a call" due to the addition of Windows Live Call.
  •    Nicknames of individual contacts can be customized to appear differently from what the contact has set.
  •     Messages from contacts can now be time-stamped.
  •     Microsoft Passport has been replaced with Windows Live ID.
  •     Word wheel search within the contact list.  

File scanning

On September 12, 2007, the Windows Live Messenger blog posted an entry that reported of a security vulnerability discovered in versions of Messenger older than 8.1." This led to an auto-update being released to all older versions. Versions running on Windows 2000 and below were required to update to a new version of MSN Messenger 7.0, and versions running on Windows XP and above were required to update to Windows Live Messenger 8.1.