Archive for the ‘Live Messenger’ Category
I’ve just stumbled across a great blog entry from Steven Abrahams, Lead Program Manager for Windows Live Messenger, that gives the most in-depth overview of the new features in Messenger that I’ve seen yet. Check it out at: http://stevenkabrahams.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!4912266378581A64!829.entry#post
UPDATE: And more new information here: http://www.25hoursaday.com/weblog/2008/09/21/ResponseToSomeFeedbackOnWhatsNewInWindowsLiveMessenger.aspx from Dare Obasanjo
3 weeks ago I wrote a blog entry Storing Messenger conversations on the Mesh where I said:
Currently I don’t save my Live Messenger conversations … Wouldn’t it be cool if all of our Messenger conversations were automatically saved to the Mesh? That way every conversation I have would be recorded and I would be able to search through them all as well.
I made the same suggestion on the Live Mesh forum along with some reasons why this would be a good idea and whilst there was general support for the idea it was suggested that instead I configure Messenger to automatically store all of my conversations and then sync the "C:UsersjamieDocumentsMy Received Files<ID>" folder using Mesh. This I did and its been working pretty well for me (I recommend trying it for yourself) and now, as you can see below, I have a history of all of my Messenger conversations synchronised across all of my machines:
After using this for a few weeks now though I have realised that there are some fallacies to this approach that could be alleviated by having Messenger automatically store conversations to Mesh; those being:
- All conversations with the same person are stored in the same file thus if you have a conversation with the same person on different machines then there will likely be a file conflict. When you resolve that conflict then at least one of the conversations gets lost.
- The Mesh client is a pre-requisite.
- Conversations done on the web using a Messenger web interface don’t get captured anywhere.
- Files that are transferred don’t get stored.
- Anything done in the Activity window is lost.
- Audio conversations are lost.
- Video conversations are lost.
All of these could be alleviated if Messenger was "Meshified". Let me just clarify what I mean by that; it does not mean that all your Messenger conversations need to be conducted on www.mesh.com, it means that the Messenger service in the cloud (the one through which orchestrates all Messenger conversations) becomes responsible for storing your conversations on the Mesh.
I’m going to be actively campaigning for the Messenger team to implement this. Is anyone with me?
I’m on a Live Messenger tip tonight.
I’ve been checking out the Inside Messenger bot (otherwise known as a Windows Live Agent) and having a lot of fun with it. As you can see below I’ve been checking out the new House of Cards video from Radiohead. Its hosted on Youtube but I’ve no need to go to Youtube to watch it because I can watch it right from within Live Messenger using Inside Messenger and, not only that, I can twitter about it at the same time. All from the same conversation window.
If you want to do the same then its dead simple, just go and add firstname.lastname@example.org to your Messenger buddy list and you’ll be away.
In terms of minutes spent online, what do you suppose is the UK’s most popular web-based website or service? Google? Facebook? iTunes? eBay? Maybe Second Life? MySpace perhaps? Well if you said one of those you’d be wrong on all counts, its actually Windows Live Messenger….and by some distance too.
Check out the latest standings as gathered from a report by Nielson Online.
I was quite shocked when I saw that, I never expected Live Messenger to top all that lot but I’m happy that it does. I’m a big believer that Messenger is an incredibly underused tool and I said so in my blog post I believe that Agents are our future… back in December 2007:
I look forward to the day when I am able to view my bank balance, pay my bills, purchase things from Amazon, book flights, view live flight information, update personal details that people may have about me and do countless other things that I haven’t thought of yet all from within my Live Messenger window.
I have just watched the Mix08 opening keynote where IE8 was being demonstrated. This included a new feature – Activities. The first thing I thought was “This would be great inside Live Messenger”.Simple scenario: someone I’m chatting with sends me an address. Wouldn’t it be great if I could select that address and up pops a Virtual Earth map showing that address?The great thing about Activities is that Microsoft are trying to introduce them as a standard hence any Activity that works on IE8 would (in theory) work on Messenger as well.
The notion of presence is a fairly big deal in Windows Live right now. Primarily Windows Live users express their presence through the use of Windows Live Messenger which can convey whether you are online, offline, away, in a meeting etc … and in turn can also show the presence of your various contacts. Supplementary to that is the Messenger Presence API and IM Control which enables someone to publish their presence (remember, as defined by Windows Live Messenger) on any web page just like I’m doing here:
Very useful stuff.
I said "fairly big deal" and that’s because I’m of the opinion that there are still a few shortcomings with how presence is implemented by Windows Live. Namely:
- Presence is only published from Windows Live Messenger
- We can’t control who can see our presence
- There isn’t much presence information available
I’ll expand on those points here.
1. Presence is only published from Windows Live Messenger
Windows Live ID is used for user authentication in countless places other than Windows Live Messenger. Off the top of my head I can think of MSDN forums, Zune Social, Connect, Office Live Workgroups, XBox Live, Expedia, MSN, Windows Live Spaces & Hotmail that all use Windows Live ID for user authentication, so if I’m using one of those services then surely I’m online. Right? Why shouldn’t that be reflected in my Messenger status?
Of course, Microsoft are typically sensitive to privacy around the Windows Live ID so a person would have to specify that they are allowing this type of information should be published.
2. We can’t control who can see our presence
Currently all of our contacts see the same status, we can’t specify a different status for different contacts or groups of contacts. This is one of my pet peeves about Windows Live Messenger and I’ve seen many submissions on Connect that agree with me. I hope that the advent of Windows Live Groups will also bring with it the ability to specify a different status for each group of contacts.
3. There isn’t much presence information available
Following on from what I said above, instead of the rather monotonous "Online" a person’s Messenger status could instead read something like "Online on Zune Social" or "Browsing flights on Expedia" (I’m sure Expedia wouldn’t be averse to the extra publicity).
So that covers the WHAT, but there’s nothing that currently covers the WHERE. With the increasing proliferation of GPS-enabled phones there’s a real opportunity for publishing your location to anyone whom you may want to see it. I’ve talked a lot about this before, I see a lot of value in being able to know where my family and friends are.
Similarly, why stop at my real life presence? I remain convinced that Microsoft will be releasing a Second Life competitor later this year so why shouldn’t my virtual world status be reflected in my real-life status also?
Like I say, Messenger Presence can be improved a great deal. I hope we don’t have to wait too long to see some of these improvements.
The ability to send people instant messages on the Live Messenger platform is expanding. Already it is possible to send/receive from IMs from your XBox, its now possible from Windows Media Center, and I strongly suspect that instant messaging will be built into Zune Social soon as well.
As Messenger starts to permeate other Microsoft properties I believe the requirement to show different statuses to different groups of people becomes more important. I personally would like the ability to appear online to all my work colleagues but offline to everyone else so that I don’t get distracted whilst I’m at work; I foresee that people would like to (for example) appear online to all their Xbox buddies while they’re using XBox Live but offline to everyone else. This functionality has been requested by people since version 8.0 of Live Messenger but still it hasn’t been provided, I hope that changes in the upcoming version 9.0.
Zune Social is cool in that you can see who likes the same music as you and meet them etc… but any conversation that you have is via messages that you leave in their [Zune Social] inbox.
Hence, I’d love the ability to IM people from within Zune Social. The newly released Messenger Presence API and Messenger IM Control (http://dev.live.com/messenger/) could easily provide this ability. So, my request is that you give us the ability to see if people are online and IM them from Zune Social (to all the privacy advocates out there…don’t worry…the Presence API puts you in charge of who can IM you.)
Moreover, I’d like the ability to add people to my list of contacts. If they automatically appeared in a contact group called (e.g.) "Zune Social" then so much the better.
If you’re a Zune Social member and you think this would be a good idea, click through and add your weight to my request.
My last blog entry (I believe that Agents are our future…) talked about my hopes for IM bots eventually infiltrating our lives…all for our benefit of course. Since then I’ve been exploring bots a little bit more and was delighted to find that the Inside Messenger bot (email@example.com) has had a new release. There are some great capabilities within Inside Messenger now but the one that really caught my eye was the ability to view videos from Youtube, MSN Video, Reuters, and Google Video. The beauty of this feature is that you can search for and view videos from right within your conversation window – it doesn’t launch you into a web page. Here’s a screen shot from a search I did for "Zune":
I love this. Interacting with a search engine that actually replies to you in natural language is far preferable (to me) than a monotonous web page.
There’s some other nice features too. You can play games…
…do Amazon searches
and view Google calendars. I don’t have a screen shot of that cos I don’t have a Google Calendar. I’m reliably informed that support for Windows Live Calendar will come just as soon as an API is released for it.
So what are you waiting for? Go and add firstname.lastname@example.org to your Messenger contacts and check out what’s on offer.
…build them well and let them lead the way!!
On 12th October 2006 Microsoft purchased Colloquis, a provider of automated service agents. To me, and most probably you, that is better described as bots that you can talk to in Windows Messenger and nowadays the product is called Windows Live Agents. The team formerly known as Colloquis have a blog here that is regularly updated.
I was hoping that when Colloquis were purchased this would usher in a new era of automated interaction agents that simplify my online life. No longer would I have to browse to web pages in order to do the mundane things that I have to do as part of my daily routine. Unfortunately we haven’t reached that tipping point yet. I look forward to the day when I am able to view my bank balance, pay my bills, purchase things from Amazon, book flights, view live flight information, update personal details that people may have about me and do countless other things that I haven’t thought of yet all from within my Live Messenger window. The first thing I would like to see would be an agent that enables me to update all the information that I have stored at http://account.live.com. That would be a great way for Microsoft to demonstrate the capabilities of Windows Live Agents while at the same time providing a really useful service.
So, none of this stuff really exists at the moment though I did however find the Microsoft Automated Service Agent site which leads me to think that Microsoft ARE pushing something in this area. However, reading through the blurb it seems as if Microsoft envisage these agents being deployed within a web site. That’s not what I want at all though – I want to be able to interact with these things from the convenience of my IM client – without having to go near a web browser. I cross my fingers that this will happen.
Will we reach the agent tipping point soon? I don’t think it is going to happen in the near future, but it will do one day.
See the image below? If you want one (one which actually does something – unlike the one below) adding to your email signature or your blog site then head to www.messengerbuttons.com and get one for yourself.