Review

Review: Windows Live Essentials 2011 - Messenger

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Microsoft has released the final version of Windows Live Essentials 2011 to everyone on a Windows based PC, which comes loaded with very useful and helpful everyday programs that make our lives a little easier and more entertaining. Over the next couple of days Neowin takes an in-depth look at Windows Live Essentials 2011, covering a new program each day.

Windows Live Messenger

One of the most used instant messenger clients in the world is Windows Live Messenger. Starting off our review with what most people download the essentials pack for is Messenger. This instant messenger client has gone through 15 changes and redesigns, protocol upgrades, rebranding, and many partnerships like Yahoo! Messenger and Facebook Chat.

Facebook Chat is one of the new additions in Windows Live Messenger, with the ability to talk to friends on Facebook without having to use a browser. Instant messages received from your Facebook contacts use the standard Messenger window, so your chats almost look identical to your real Messenger contacts', but you only have the ability to send text and emoticons. All your chats, including Facebook are now all grouped together in tabs, a much easier way to keep your contacts organized without having multiple windows flashing.

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The contact window hasn't changed very much over the last few years, but this version gives file sharing a whole new meaning. Now when you paste links or send photos, Windows Live Messenger will open up a file sharing window, allowing you both to view the image within your contact window.

Emoticons

Windows Live Messenger has gone with the old emoticons that started with Windows Messenger back when Windows XP was first launched. The updated emoticons all have new designs and improved graphics for more detail, and some even have updated animations. Windows Live Messenger allows you to add your own personal emoticons, including animated ones, to send to your friends.

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Options

There hasn't been much added to the option panel over last year's release, but the layout has been slightly tweaked and options moved around. Some options have been expanded to better customize your Messenger, as well as clearer explanations, to better understand the options you are configuring. Unfortunately, custom names have since been removed, and now only displays your first and last name, which is editable from Windows Live profile.

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Contact List

One huge change and improvement in Windows Live Messenger, is the contact list. If you are familiar with the beta or beta refresh, you'll know that you can now expand your contact window to show your Windows Live and Facebook (optional) feeds. Your feeds are split into two columns, showing videos, photos and important media in one column and your updates in another.

You can share links, photos, videos, post updates and even comment all from within Windows Live Messenger. Your feed comes with filters to sort through recent, highlights, me (your own profile), photos, links and more.

The ability to switch back and forth to the classic view and the social network view really comes in handy, as many users may not use this feature, or find a practical use for it.

Animated display pictures isn't a new feature to Windows Live Messenger, but faces with moods is. Before, users had to download a pre-made set of moods that would change with your conversations, but now with your webcam, you can set your own moods yourself. Creative users will be able to make funny or creative animated display pictures with their webcam.

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The old notification windows have long been gone now, and now with a more professional and Office 2010 style popup window to alert you of contacts coming online, sending you messages and other optional alerts. The alerts are also fully compatible with some social networks including Facebook and Twitter, so you'll get customized notifications with special branding.

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Windows Live Messenger is fully compatible with Windows 7 taskbar, with a Jump list to sign out or exit messenger and a neat feature to change your status from the taskbar.

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If you're familiar with Windows Live Messenger, you'll notice all the old features are still available, from contact games, send and receive files, and many more. Many of the basic features have been slightly tweaked or improved, to suit consumers' needs better.

Make sure to check back tomorrow when we review Windows Live Photo Gallery 2011!

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