The Microsoft Messenger for Mac is as close as it gets to Windows Live Messenger for Windows computers. It lacks quite a few features that Windows Live has, but you can still chat to friends and do some other things. It has improved over the years, but at a slow rate, and us Mac users still don't have the ability to do webcam and audio calls and messages to contacts - after all, Microsoft makes it, so at least we get something.
It is free to download, and the latest version that I'll be reviewing is 7.0.2. Once downloaded, you must install it to your applications. From there, you can drag it to the doc so it can be opened at ease, as I use it quite often so it's efficient to click on from the doc. Once you open the application, you are asked to sign in. You can use this service for personal use with an address from Hotmail or MSN for example, or you can use it for use with your business.
Once you've signed in, which takes around 15 seconds, your contacts will pop up, so long as you have some! You can sort contacts by showing them as either online or offline, or you can create groups such as 'Family', 'Best Friends' and other names to make it easier. You can also click arrows beside the names to hide lists.
The window is grey, blue and white. The top grey part has a few titles. You can add people by knowing their contact address for the service. They will then be sent a notification and are required to accept or decline your request. You can also send messages by clicking the Send button and choosing a contact, or you can double click the contact in your list on the lower bit with a white background. You can also send a file such as a music file or document. You can page a mobile if you have this set up and you can also view your mail corresponding to that account.
A conversation window is very simple. The majority of the window contains the box where your instant messages appear. To one side of the window are your display picture at the bottom and their display picture at the top. The bottom has a chat box where you click to type and press enter or send to send your message. Between the chat box and the box where messages are displayed are options to adjust your writing and choose from the list of smilies.
Smilies can be used to express your emotions such as smiley faces, sad faces, faces of anger and other emotions such as of pizza, beer, a football or even a sheep! You can also add your own smilies by right clicking ones sent from other users in this latest version of Microsoft Messenger for Mac, which is useful as you can express yourself more.
The top of the window has an option to invite contacts. You can invite quite a number of contacts to one conversation to have an instant messaging conference. This is useful for making plans and organising things as a group with your friends or business partners.
There is also an option to send a file in the conversation window. You can browse through your computer to send appropriate files including music, word documents, other documents and photos. You cannot send applications and the send rate is usually slow. There is also an option to save the conversation. You can have it ask you every time you end a conversation whether you want it saved or not, or you can automatically have a conversation saved when you close it. You can also trigger your display pictures to hide or be on display.
That's pretty much all really. It's all very simple and easy to use. You get sound notifications when someone sends you a message as well as when someone signs into the service. You also have your own screen name and personal message that can be changed. Your screen name is usually your name such as 'Dan' for me, but you can put whatever. Your personal message can be something personal to you but you can write whatever really. Some of my friends put lyrics there and others put something personal to them. You can also tick an option that makes your iTunes music appear as your personal message when you are listening to a song.
There are other preferences you can adjust such as your noise alerts and the sounds. You can also make the service show your status as 'away' after you don't show any activity for a certain amount of time. You can otherwise change your status as necessary to things like 'busy', 'be right back', 'away' or 'in a call'. Lastly, you can block people who you don't want contact with or someone who has annoyed you. They have no way of seeing that you've blocked them but you won't appear online on their list.
Overall it's a great service and an ideal application for contacting friends. You can contact anyone else with an account, whether they have a Mac or PC. It's totally free and really useful. You can download it from Microsoft.com. It has a few basic features and some other ones such as the ability to send files, add smilies and have conversations with multiple people. I am sure that in the not too distant future, us Mac users will be able to do webcam, audio calls and all the other things that PC users with Windows Live Messenger can do. Until then, I am happy with this service and grateful to have it.
Thanks for reading,
An integrated communications client that enables you to communicate with contacts within and outside your organization.