Review

Review: Windows Live Essentials 2011 - Messenger

WLE_ReviewHeader_Messenger

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.

WLM_FacebookChat

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.

WLM_ChatEmoticons

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.

WLM_Options

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.

WLM_ChatExpanded

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.

WLM_TwitterEmail

WLM_PopupWindow

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.

WLM_Windows7taskbar

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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81 Comments

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well i keep my windows live messenger 8.5 its just better, only one process for messenger, i can appear offline and talk, it feels clean, i can put the nick i want, and mess patch its just so cool.

Since BETA i've been having the following problem: I cannot move/maximize/minimize the contact window. In the final version, I still have this problem.

Anyone else?

there are 2 major features which messenger is missing from its ancestor versions:

1)MESSENGER IS MISSING WHAT YOU ARE CURRENTLY LISTNING (WHAT SONG YOU ARE HEARING RITE NOW).

2)DURING STARTUP IT EITHER REMEMBERS THE EMAIL ID OR PASSWORD OR ELSE IT DOSENT REMEMBER ANY THING. WHICH MAKE ME WRITE MY EMAIL ID AND PASSWORD EVRY TIME . I CANNOT KEEP MY EMAIL ID AND PASSWORD AS OTHER PEOPLE LOG IN ON MY COMPUTER WHICH WILL CAUSE ME PRIVACY CONCERN.

I HOPE SOME ONE WILL HV A TRICK OR CONVEY MY MESSAGE TO WINDOWS LIVE TEAM

Alright... no need to "yell" .. Messenger 2011 does still have the "I'm listening to" option, it's under Personal in the Options. I agree there are a lot of things I hope they will revamp/add back. Just having Email and perhaps Facebook page logged in the jumplist would be big step forward. The Jumplist is used mainly for the Favorites list now, somehing I didn't even bother trying to use before this release and still don't find overly useful.. Not grouping out Offline Facebook contacts is a huge pain too, and the fact that it's smart enough to realize when facebook and windows live contacts are the same person but then still includes them in both lists is aggravating when you want to have them open and see who's online and you see the same 10 people over again.

Hi everyone, after some days of using the final version I unistalled and now that I installed the 14.0.8089.0726 of the live messenger I can't login any more, I get a message that the service is temporarily unaivalable all the time, someone experienced this error???

regards

I used the new Messenger for about a week. Hate it, uninstalled it and went back to WLM9. The inability to send messages when appearing offline and the lack of webcam features makes it unacceptable for me. It is sad that the "new" version trades great features for stuff I have no interest in using.

I hate not having custom names. WTF!!! was the dev team thinking? Try to change your profile and you hare forced to put a last name.

I hated the fact they took one-way video off.... added more quality to just video chat but that means you have to disable one or the other if you don't wish to send video from either end. I'd rather have the option like before.

love the new mail program;
hate this new messenger
(i dont see why a messenging client should use more memory than wmp whilst its playing music!)..
i also miss custom names. i dont like my full name being displayed everytime i have a conversation, seems far too formal/clinical;
then again, i have hardly used messenger in the last year, as most people seem to use facebook nowadays.. (which is probably one of the reasons for the integration)

One feature that's missing that I hate is the ability to hide all offline contacts. They changed it so all you can do is put them in a separate group.

I really like the ability to leave video messages to off line WLM users who are using the latest version. It sure beats leaving normal off line messages.

For some reason I can't read my offline messages on WLE-M 2011 because the whole chat window is blank and grey when I receive an offline message. Anyone else having a problem with this? Cheers

I"d like to see some options from old versions...
- display contacts email instead of those nonsense (flowers, #@, , hearts, etc...) nicknames
- quick edit contacts details, now you have to open the browser to do this...????

Anyone knows how to enable these? TIA

Nice review but i personally hate this new version, to big and bulky. A messenger program should be lightweight but still rich in features like version 14 was. Now it's just to damn big and ugly, especially the contact list window, ugh. I will be sticking with version 14 thanks.

So... Did I miss something or they still don't allow to hide offline Facebook contacts in that final release ? (and same with 'Like' pages )

I like the new clean look and feel to the new WLM but I miss custom names ... it was one of the bigger deals for me Hope some how they bring the ability to use nicknames back.

Yeah, a list of removed features is sorely missing from this article...

- Drawing is gone.
- Ability to colourize the default background/theme.
- The default theme doesn't carry over to the conversation window so it's either blue and whispy or the contact's theme.
- The option to NOT group consecutive messages is gone.
- The winks and emoticons flyups are combined taking up realestate if you only use emoticons.
- Jumplist options are gone (Email inbox, etc.)
- Separate grouping of offline mobile contacts is removed.
- The comic-like "talk bubble" for personal message is too opaque and covers most of your background/theme if you use compact view.
- The combined File/Contacts/Actions/Tools menu is gone from the main window.

And to add insult to injury, I guess the resource files have changed and Ahmad (maintainer of A-Patch) is having a hard time figuring out how to remove the space holder for the advertisement at the bottom of the window.. valuable real estate.

I like where it's going but I feel overall like this was a rushed release. It feels like they just ran out of time for bringing some features over or thoughtlessly removed them.. I'm hoping the former since that means some of them may make a reappearance in a future release.

osm0sis said,
Yeah, a list of removed features is sorely missing from this article...

- Drawing is gone.
- Ability to colourize the default background/theme.
- The default theme doesn't carry over to the conversation window so it's either blue and whispy or the contact's theme.
- The option to NOT group consecutive messages is gone.
- The winks and emoticons flyups are combined taking up realestate if you only use emoticons.
- Jumplist options are gone (Email inbox, etc.)
- Separate grouping of offline mobile contacts is removed.
- The comic-like "talk bubble" for personal message is too opaque and covers most of your background/theme if you use compact view.
- The combined File/Contacts/Actions/Tools menu is gone from the main window.

And to add insult to injury, I guess the resource files have changed and Ahmad (maintainer of A-Patch) is having a hard time figuring out how to remove the space holder for the advertisement at the bottom of the window.. valuable real estate.

I like where it's going but I feel overall like this was a rushed release. It feels like they just ran out of time for bringing some features over or thoughtlessly removed them.. I'm hoping the former since that means some of them may make a reappearance in a future release.

Add to that the removed one way webcam feature.

Nice review, I look forward to the Facebook chat integration. I'm glad it's finally arrived on Messenger, I won't have to make a AIM account just to use it now. The UI looks nice, in my opinion anyway, I'm glad it hasn't changed since the beta release.

There's still a problem with tabbed chats. Sometimes it doesn't let me click the tab I want and nicknames are not allowed so I'm going back to previous version too..

not being able to send messages while being offline is very annoying. i'm goin back to previous version since i dont care for the new fb integration. i know there's an option to show as online to certain people but i wont use that crap, they compicated something very simple to do.

chago12 said,
not being able to send messages while being offline is very annoying. i'm goin back to previous version since i dont care for the new fb integration. i know there's an option to show as online to certain people but i wont use that crap, they compicated something very simple to do.

finally someone that gets my point, i've been complaining about that since the first beta, like you I'm going back.

This is extremely amazing. Finally we have one place for all. Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo and Windows Live Message ... but one bad thing, its not supported on WinXP .. too bad

tAALz said,
This is extremely amazing. Finally we have one place for all. Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo and Windows Live Message ... but one bad thing, its not supported on WinXP .. too bad

flashnews: electricity is not offered in places where no electric lines are installed!

welcome to 2010! (soon 2011)

I really do not like this new version yet. most because of all the information about me that microsoft almost force me to show for the hole world

i had to go trough endless of privicy options yesterday just so i know that not everyone can see
everything

but the new mail client is really nice

plantemichel said,
Windows live essential 2011 not supporting Windows XP it suck big time

Upgrade to Windows Vista or Windows 7 please.

plantemichel said,
Windows live essential 2011 not supporting Windows XP it suck big time

not really wlm 8.5 and the one before wlm 2011 its better less bloated and more IM features.

This new version totally killed network shares between my WD TV Live and my PC. Is the Sign In Assistant integrated into the program with no option to not install it?

I use WLM for 2 things, a little IM chat but most of all for voice and video chat with family. MS have made lots of changes to the voice/video chat options, mostly good. One major improvement that you've not mentioned is the ability to change the microphone and speaker sources mid conversation (you used to have to stop chat and go through the audio / video wizard to do this before), great if like me you have a usb headset that you like to use. However for some unknown reason they seem to have removed the ability to alter the microphone and speaker volumes Within WLM...

One other thing I'm trying to understand is what it has done to IE, I'm now getting MS live ID warnings in my browser warning about leaving a site. Hopefully that is something I can turn off.

I've started to like Messenger more and more of the the last 2yrs. I would use it more if it was a multi-messenger instead of just MSN/Yahoo/Facebook.

Epic0range said,
I've started to like Messenger more and more of the the last 2yrs. I would use it more if it was a multi-messenger instead of just MSN/Yahoo/Facebook.

I'm sure MS could add support for other networks, but isn't AIM on the way to death? So I figure why bother with that one. Adding twitter and some other new ones could happen later on though.

GP007 said,

I'm sure MS could add support for other networks, but isn't AIM on the way to death? So I figure why bother with that one. Adding twitter and some other new ones could happen later on though.

Most the people I know are on AIM. I only know 3 on Yahoo and 2 on MSN.

Why does this review not talk about the missing/deleted features. The idea of a new version ought to be to increase utility and control, not reduce it. Why has Microsoft removed features under 'Privacy'? Specifically I am referring to the page where one could view the list of blocked contacts and also the one's who are allowed to contact you. Even more importantly where is the page where you could see the list of people who have you added to their contact list? I am presuming these have been removed for I certainly cannot find them.

Sanjay said,
Why does this review not talk about the missing/deleted features. The idea of a new version ought to be to increase utility and control, not reduce it. Why has Microsoft removed features under 'Privacy'? Specifically I am referring to the page where one could view the list of blocked contacts and also the one's who are allowed to contact you. Even more importantly where is the page where you could see the list of people who have you added to their contact list? I am presuming these have been removed for I certainly cannot find them.

The article mentions about the disability to change 'display names' how one used to be able to (not that I agree with the author of the article that it's a bad thing - I love this limitation because it helps ensure people don't use silly names anymore).

I still get kicked off every 2 minutes using this version. Beta 1 and final work horribly for me. Beta 2 works great and never kicks me off.

Seems they've changed the inbox on MSN 2011 to show in a mobile phone like format instead of the whole hotmail to check email.

I hate that they removed the ability to send offline messages to people, you can now send them only if you're online, doesn't matter if your buddy is offline or online, I've been complaining about it like crazy but I just don't get why they did that, like in IE 9 you don't have the option to being asked where to save a download, you can only set a default location. I mean I don't see the point on removing those options. So far for me the Photo Gallery has the best and more useful improvements.

Meconio said,
I hate that they removed the ability to send offline messages to people, you can now send them only if you're online, doesn't matter if your buddy is offline or online, I've been complaining about it like crazy but I just don't get why they did that, like in IE 9 you don't have the option to being asked where to save a download, you can only set a default location. I mean I don't see the point on removing those options. So far for me the Photo Gallery has the best and more useful improvements.

I'm confused, you can send offline messages..and obviously you have to be signed on in order to do so =/

Meconio said,
I hate that they removed the ability to send offline messages to people, you can now send them only if you're online, doesn't matter if your buddy is offline or online, I've been complaining about it like crazy but I just don't get why they did that, like in IE 9 you don't have the option to being asked where to save a download, you can only set a default location. I mean I don't see the point on removing those options. So far for me the Photo Gallery has the best and more useful improvements.

In IE9, when a download starts, hit the little down arrow next to the Save button and select Save As. You can then select where you'd like to download to.

Meconio said,
I hate that they removed the ability to send offline messages to people, you can now send them only if you're online, doesn't matter if your buddy is offline or online, I've been complaining about it like crazy but I just don't get why they did that, like in IE 9 you don't have the option to being asked where to save a download, you can only set a default location. I mean I don't see the point on removing those options. So far for me the Photo Gallery has the best and more useful improvements.

If you're referring to not being able to send offline messages to an offline contact by double-clicking on them, try right-clicking and selecting 'Send offline IM' No matter whether your contacts are online or offline, you will always have this right-click option.

I hope that helps.

Calum said,


I hope that helps.

What I mean is that, I usually sign in but prefer to appear offline or invisible, it used to be possible to send a message to any of your buddies without you having to appear as online, but now it doesn't let you do that anymore, you have to be and appear as online to send a message to anyone regardless of their status, If you choose to appear as online just to that person (which is the new feature) you stay like that until you choose to "appear online to everyone" which in turn unblocks all previously blocked buddies.

mikesingh said,

In IE9, when a download starts, hit the little down arrow next to the Save button and select Save As. You can then select where you'd like to download to.

THANKS dude, i didn't notice that before, now I'm a little less ignorant

Meconio said,

What I mean is that, I usually sign in but prefer to appear offline or invisible, it used to be possible to send a message to any of your buddies without you having to appear as online, but now it doesn't let you do that anymore, you have to be and appear as online to send a message to anyone regardless of their status, If you choose to appear as online just to that person (which is the new feature) you stay like that until you choose to "appear online to everyone" which in turn unblocks all previously blocked buddies.


+1 this is my biggest issue with this version. the blocking mechanism is frelled.
between this issue and the loss of the option to 'only allow people on my allow list to contact me', i switched to pidgin. which sucks because wlm looks better (when patched). there's just no way to truly/permanently block anyone anymore whyyyyy?

"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."

No, the ability to draw is now gone... I just reverted back to WLM 2009 so I could get that back. If anybody can find this feature, it would be greatly appreciated. I think they took it out though. Very angry about that.

sanctified said,
How so I cant find how to enable twitter?

Twitter isn't part of the social networks, yet. That is just an email notifications.

I think they need a light version for people who don't want to use all of that social bloat and slow animations that they added in there. I'm back on 2010 which is much better to me, but I do like to new mail program.

Slow animations? Don't remember those. And considering their hardware accelerated too they're not going to have much impact. And if you don't like the social "bloat", just switch to compact view. Leaves you with nearly the same interface they used too have, just a little cleaner.

~Johnny said,
Slow animations? Don't remember those. And considering their hardware accelerated too they're not going to have much impact. And if you don't like the social "bloat", just switch to compact view. Leaves you with nearly the same interface they used too have, just a little cleaner.

Well maybe i exaggerated the animation speed a bit, its just that I don't want to have them on rather them be instant and I know that it can be switched to compact but the memory usage stays the same.

Cideman said,
If anyone messaged me on MSN using comic sans, I would quickly close the window and then delete their contact

Well it IS Andrew using it..

Andrew Lyle said,
Why does everyone hate on comic sans?

Probably because a lot of people used to like it, so they overused it. Not to mention the fanbase. Most people who like comic sans are 14-yr-olds who think it's cool or loud women on their 30s unhappy with their recent divorce who want to look like 14-yr-olds.

Andrew Lyle said,
Why does everyone hate on comic sans?

comic sans is the font your grandma uses to email you to accompany the lolcatz picture from 3 years ago.

Cideman said,

comic sans is the font your grandma uses to email you to accompany the lolcatz picture from 3 years ago.

LOL... or the font used in flower pictures & cheezy, boring music powerpoints!!!!

Also something worth mentioning is their pretty cool photo album viewer. Nice for browsing around and commenting on Facebook photos! Along with some new cool winks too. And the obvious addition of animations all over the UI, which is a nice little perk =) More programs need to have have subtle animation in them.

rm20010 said,
Ladies and gentlemen, we know now who's responsible for the cheesy advertising behind Microsoft software.

A-Patch will solve that issue for you.

Oh quite the contrary, Blasius, old pal. My buddy, Andrew, and I were simply discussing the most recent dealings from a respectable company.

...

Alan Cone said,
Oh quite the contrary, Blasius, old pal. My buddy, Andrew, and I were simply discussing the most recent dealings from a respectable company.

...

haha of course.

Blasius said,
Nice review Andrew!!

nice review? where does he talk about the biggest gripe users have? offline message sending?