Microsoft made available for download on June 19 the final version of its consumer instant messaging product, Windows Live Messenger.
WLM is one of the first of Microsofts ever-expanding family of Windows Live services to make it beyond the beta phase.
Microsoft, in Redmond, Wash., has launched more than 18 Windows Live services, which are currently in various stages of testing or final deployments.
Microsoft has been spending money hand over fist—and plans to spend more than $500 million in fiscal 2007 alone-—on adding Windows Live data centers, coders, testers, and other physical and human capital to build up its cloud of services in the sky.
Microsoft released the first official beta build of WLM, the successor to MSN Messenger, in December 2005.
Among WLMs capabilities are free PC-to-PC calls with other Live Messenger users, paid PC-to-phone calls (via Verizon Web Calling and Windows Live Call services), video calling, and new built-in sharing folders.
Microsoft officials described Live Messenger as "one of the first of more than 20 new Windows Live services to launch globally over the course of the year."
According to a posting on the WLM group blog, Microsoft will begin advising all Microsoft consumer messaging users to download WLM.
"MSN Messenger only lives on for people using operating systems older than Windows XP on which Windows Live Messenger is not supported," according to the posting. "Over the next few months, the number of people using Windows Live Messenger will multiply by more than 10 (and thats NOT binary)."
"The best new feature is the VOIP [voice over IP] integration through Windows Live Call, which, despite still offering only basic functionality, is something that Messenger has been lacking for a while," wrote Chris Overd on the LiveSide.net Web site. "The most disappointing part about the release is the exclusion of the Yahoo-Microsoft interoperability, which was scheduled for Q2 2006 and looks unlikely to meet this target."
WLM is not Microsofts only IM offering. The company also is promoting its Office Communicator product as its IM-for-business offering.
According to BetaNews, Microsoft has teamed with Disney to help promote the launch of the service. The two are offering exclusive access to an online game called "Dead Mans Tale." The game is based on the upcoming film "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Mans Chest" and will offer peeks into the sequels storyline and clips from the movie.
Live n Kicking
Windows Live Messenger is here-—one of the first Windows Live services to make it out of beta. You cant talk to your Yahoo buds yet, but heres what you can do:
* High-quality, free voice conversations between WLM users Telephone calling
* Mobile and landline domestic and international calls via Verizon service
Better video conversations
* Live, full-screen (640-by-480-pixel) video
* Ability to drag and drop a file onto a contacts name, thereby enabling mutual file sharing
* Right-click to send a text message to a friends name when it has a mobile icon showing
Two-way, super-powered address book
* When contacts update their personal information, Windows Live Contacts automatically changes it in your WLM and Windows Live Mail address books
Windows Live Alerts
* Pop-up notification of headlines, sports scores, traffic and so on