MSN Messenger 7 Beta: Sneak Review
Just the other day I got hold of the beta version of this much hyped up upgrade to the very popular instant messaging client MSN Messenger 7. I downloaded it onto a test machine and found that its download size of the beta is almost 7 megs. This size is almost double of that of current generation of full-fledged browsers like Opera and Mozilla Firefox. Opera even packs an email application and an IRC client in half that download size! Maybe it is due to all the flashy stuff (winks) that MSN Messenger 7 introduces.
MSN Messenger 7 features the Nudges, which shake the messaging window with a noise and are too long for comfort. Everyone knows it is directly lifted out of Yahoo! Messenger. Yahoo Messengerâ€™s buzz is of a shorter and tolerable duration than MSNâ€™s nudge though MSN has a less distracting sound effect to go with it. On the bright side unlike Yahoo! Messenger, MSN Messenger let users to turn off nudge completely.
Yahoo! Messengerâ€™s audibles were exciting and were limited to the small area inside chat window. MSN Messengerâ€™s Winks are more in your face. It takes over the entire client window and play mostly dumb animations. Luckily, both the messengers let us disable the respective options. Both nudges and winks just add to fun factor and would have a short shelf life with most users disabling them in few days (if not hours!).
The new search bar is handy but again very in your face. This is very unlike Yahoo! Messenger, which puts it at the more discreet location at the bottom. Similar to Yahoo! Messenger, we can now select a word (or phrase) in an ongoing conversation and search it on the respective search engine. Nothing revolutionary here. However, I could not find an option to disable the search bar from the preferences, so it is disappointing from Microsoftâ€™s side. Even the left side tabs cannot be disabled from the preferences! Not many users would like this considering version 6 has this option. Hoping for a quick fix on these issues.
The main client window is becoming more cluttered. In the beta version, it shows the user icon, hotmail, and MSN today alerts. There are tabs on the left, an advertisement at the bottom and then the big search box. Very little space is actually left for contacts. If you have a small screen monitor and many msn friends, you are again not going to like it very much. I would like it, if Microsoft can offer a classical skin that resembles generic windows applications taking as little desktop space as possible.
On the brighter side, I appreciate getting the ability to set my status before logging into the messaging services. It was long due. However, users cannot still set custom status messages, which Yahoo! Messenger let us do.
Last but not the least, where is the capability to send offline messages? Yahoo! Messenger has it since ages. Microsoft just about managed to give functional archive ability in the last version; I had expected to get offline messaging facility in this version. I hope that MSN Messenger developers have this on their to-do list and we can hope to get it in a coming version.
Sushubh Mittal is the publisher of Software news at Software Journal and Tech Consultant to the Search Engine Journal.