Microsoft has been busy recently releasing a raft of new beta products under its Windows Live umbrella. The latest is a new version of Messenger, its IM client. It's called Windows Live Messenger and was released as a public beta tonight, available for download only via IE (tsk tsk). Techcrunch has the early review and notes the new features:
- Cleaner interface than MSN Messenger 7.5, the current non-beta release.
- Integration with MSN video.
- Expansion of the VOIP pre-paid calling feature called Windows Live Call (powered by Verizon) into eight new markets.
- Customization of the Live Messenger template.
- Offline messaging.
- File Sharing via integration with the previously acquired Foldershare product.
LiveSide also pointed out that "now available for purchase are the Windows Live Messenger cordless phones, produced by Uniden Corp. and Phillips." So that's a very interesting Web-software-hardware integration, which I'll be looking into more.
Of course this is a Windows-only product (XP to be exact) and you need IE "version 6 SP1 or later" on your machine. Also to access the beta you need to have a Passport account. So basically you need every Microsoft product on the planet to use this thing, but still it's an interesting play for the IM and VoIP market dominated by AOL's AIM and Skype. Microsoft and Google both now have interesting IM/VoIP beta products on the market, so expect a big push from both companies this year on that front.