Just lately the vast majority of internet forums have been confused by what Microsoft are doing with their Instant Messaging clients, Windows and MSN Messenger. Will there be regular updates to Windows Messenger? Will MSN Messenger take over and Windows Messenger be pushed to the side?
I aim to answer these questions or try to think what Microsoft and MSN might be doing with these two technologies. At the moment Windows Messenger 5 is in beta. The beta is public to beta testers on its own but JDP (Joint Development Program) when included with Real-Time Communications server (greenwich). From the version as it stands at the moment (5.0.149) there are major indications this product may eventually end up as just a corporate instant messaging client. The functionality of being able to check your Hotmail emails has been removed (just like 4.7 but with no similar add-in or indication of one) and instead replaced with the ability to check your POP3 email in Outlook Express/Outlook if you're lucky.
Windows Messenger 5 includes Inking ability. Users with a Tablet PC can send and recieve digital Ink and users without a Tablet can recieve digital Ink but not send any. At the moment most users of Tablet PCs are either educational outlets or corporate companies. MSN Messenger 6.0 will also include Inking ability. This is confirmed by Microsoft themselves in a help file included in Windows Messenger 5.0 (see this screenshot). This help file not only shows Inking will be included in the MSN client but it also confirms that MSN are working on MSN Messenger 6.0
At the moment we are 2 months away from a nice update. MSN Messenger 6.0 is due to be released on July 17th to mark 4 years from when MSN Messenger 1.0 was originally released. As the MSN department is intergrating MSN Messenger to MSN Explorer more deeply now, we'll also see the official release of MSN Explorer 8.5 by the end of this month. After this is complete, work will start on MSN Explorer 9 which will have MSN Messenger 6.0 included at the start.
Screenshot: View MSN Messenger 6.0 confirmation