As first reported in WinInfo Daily UPDATE, the version of Windows Messenger that ships in the box with Windows XP isn't a done deal, and Microsoft has numerous upgrades on tap for this component when XP ships on October 25. The upgrades, which Microsoft originally planned to release 2 weeks ago, will now ship October 25 through free download on Windows Update, alongside a slew of other updates to the OS. Microsoft says that it will update Messenger with Internet phone capabilities, .NET Alerts functionality, and other new features.
"The new Windows Messenger is an easy way for people to communicate with friends, family and co-workers anywhere," says John Frederiksen, who directs Windows Marketing at Microsoft. "This enhancement to Windows Messenger, which incorporates consumer feedback about our current version, underscores our commitment to continue to innovate and to make Windows XP the best, easiest, most exciting computing experience for consumers ever. It also underscores our commitment to work with the industry to make Windows XP a great platform for third-party solutions and business opportunities."
The October 25 update includes new PC-to-phone calling options, which let Windows Messenger users converse, over the Internet, with people who use standard telephones; Microsoft will also add this feature to MSN Messenger--which is available for Windows 2000, Windows Me, Windows NT 4.0, and Windows 98--on the same day. MSN Messenger's upgrades will also let its 42 million users perform audio chat, or PC-to-PC telephone calls, with XP-based Windows Messenger users.
Windows Messenger will also support .NET Alerts, which went live earlier this week. And a new Tabs feature will enable XML-based UI enhancements to Windows Messenger, so that users can add customizable features, such as stock quotes and MSN Calendar updates, directly to the main Windows Messenger window. The current menu-based UI will now support a task-pane-oriented interface, similar to the interface in Office XP applications and Windows XP. And finally, the Windows Messenger Contacts list will expand from 75 to 150 possible contacts, doubling the limit that the out-of-the-box version in XP imposes.