First Windows Live Messenger Beta Expected

Testers are receiving invites for the next version of Microsoft's consumer IM service. It's still unclear whether this supplants Windows Messenger, but it is certain that it will provide additional VOIP support. (Microsoft Watch)

Microsoft Corp. is expected to make available to testers this week the first beta version of its Windows Live Messenger instant-messaging service.

According to a posting on the MSN Messenger enthusiast site, Microsoft will launch the first Windows Live Messenger beta test on Tuesday, Dec. 13.

Testers report that they have received beta invitations from Microsoft for the new beta over the past couple of days.

/zimages/3/28571.gifClick here to read more about Windows Live Mail.

The new Windows Live Messenger will be "as fun and reliable as the Messenger you already know, and you lets you keep the contact list and other personal stuff youve got stored in Messenger," according to a copy of the beta invitation posted on the site.

Microsoft will be including additional VOIP (voice over IP) capabilities in the first Windows Live Messenger release. Microsoft first added VOIP support to MSN Messenger as of the MSN Messenger 7.0 release.

According to sources, Microsoft will offer Windows Live Messenger users the capability to place calls from PCs to any phone. Microsoft will deliver that capability in conjunction with MCI Inc., sources said, whereby MCI will sell Live Messenger users blocks of VOIP time.

Microsoft officials declined to comment on the pending Windows Live Messenger beta release.

The new Live Messenger release "has a fresh new look and feel, and lets you do things youve never done with Messenger before, like: Make domestic and international PC-to-telephone calls at incredibly low rates (youll need to sign up with a Microsoft Partner, but you can do this in seconds, right in the Messenger interface)," the invitation continues.

"Drop documents into special folders that you and your contact can access even when one of you is off-line."

/zimages/3/28571.gifRead the full story on Microsoft Watch: First Windows Live Messenger Beta Expected This Week

/zimages/3/28571.gifCheck out eWEEK.coms for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis.