The Facebook Messenger for Windows desktop client has leaked. You can download it from dragon.ak.fbcdn.net, courtesy of the Israeli website TechIT. Facebook may start blocking users who aren't in the beta program, but for now everything seems to be working just fine.
If you are a more visual person, you can check out screenshots as I walk you through the program here: Facebook Messenger for Windows leaks (screenshots).
Facebook started testing the Messenger for Windows desktop client with a limited group of users last month. The application, which requires Windows 7, provides access to three main Facebook features: Facebook Chat, the new Ticker feed, and notifications. Facebook has hinted at a few upcoming features as well: chatting with multiple friends, video calling, limiting chat availability, and editing settings.
As you can see in the screenshot above, you must be logged into Facebook for this application to work. After you click on the blue "Log In" button, you will redirected to the facebook.com/desktop/login webpage where Facebook explains that Messenger for Windows requires you stay logged in so that it can deliver chat and notification messages to your desktop. This means you will stay logged into Facebook even after you close your browser. To log out of Facebook, you'll need to choose the "Log Out" option from Facebook's account (?) menu.
Here's Facebook official description of the new software (typo corrected):
Messenger for Windows is a new, trial application that lets you use Facebook without being on www.facebook.com. While you surf the web or use other applications on your computer, you can:
- Chat and message with your friends on Facebook
- See the latest updates from your friends in ticker
- Get quick notifications about what's going on
We're testing out a first version of the app with a small group of people. During this trial period, we plan on rolling out changes to the app and expect outages and periods of instability as we make improvements. Note: Messenger for Windows will automatically install updates.
Facebook believes users want to use the social network's real-time features without having to keep a browser window open. The social networking giant is confident enough that it already plans to release a final version: "If you're not in the test group, you'll be able to get the app once we roll it out to everyone."
Facebook is clearly hoping that users will leave Messenger for Windows on throughout the day, probably since most Facebook addicts already do so with their browser. Still, the advantage of a desktop client is that it can use the operating system's notification system to alert the user: a browser can't do that, especially if you have Facebook open in an inactive tab. Furthermore, the application can snap to the side of the screen; that's probably why it only works for Windows 7.
The application was developed entirely by Facebook and does not constitute a new partnership with Microsoft, which is a big investor in Facebook. It's not clear if Facebook will offer support for anything before Windows 7, or if it will simply move on towards Windows 8. Clients for Mac and Linux will likely only be released if the Windows 7 version proves popular.
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