Windows Live Messenger 2010 is finally here. The long-awaited new version of Microsoft’s chat client was launched a couple of days ago, featuring a load of new features: redesigned interface, new emoticons, easier photo sharing…
But if there’s one thing that characterizes this new version of Windows Live Messenger, that’s its integration with Facebook and other social networks and online services. The lack of connectivity with social sites was an issue in Microsoft’s instant messenger, especially as other IM clients (such as Yahoo! Messenger, ICQ, Trillian or Nimbuzz, to name a few) were already hooked up to the big social networks.
If you use the same email address for your Windows Live ID and your Facebook account, integration is automatic. If not, you’ll have to connect both services in the Windows Live website. In any case, once your Messenger and Facebook accounts are linked, the integration is seamless. You’ll be able to update your status or share a link on Facebook via Live Messenger, and also check the latest posts on your wall – including photos and videos, embedded right into Messenger’s interface.
Facebook is not the only online service you can link with Windows Live Messenger. You can also connect it to other wbsites such as YouTube, MySpace, Blogger, Flickr, Digg and a lot more to get all your social updates in one place. All you need to do is log in to the Live.com website with your Windows Live ID, and you’ll be able to connect new services and manage the ones you already use.
One feature I especially liked was the new contact management area. Contacts can be organized in groups or categories, as well as marked as Favorites. This makes long contacts lists much easier to handle. Also, if you have different types of contacts – like, say, family and friends, or friends and professional acquaintances – you can also sort them out in a much easier, clearer way.
Chat windows are pretty much the same. You can start voice or video chats, send nudges and emoticons (which have been slightly redesigned), send files over to your friend or engage in online games and activities. Also, if you find the default interface design boring, try spicing it up with themes.
However, the greatest new feature regarding chat windows is undoubtedly the ability to have multiple conversations in one single window, thanks to the introduction of tabs. Simply open up as many chats as you want, and they’ll be conveniently nested as new tabs in your chat window.
In all, the new version of Windows Live Messenger is centered in two main points: revamped design (in interface, emoticons and other minor details) and social integration. Being still in beta development, we’re already looking forward to getting new stuff, like more supported social networks (Twitter, please!) and more ways to share everything you like – photos, links, videos – with your MSN friends, be it on Messenger or on any other social site.