Back in September at MIX UK we got a first look at a Messenger presence feature. Today marks the release of this handy little addition to the Messenger family. But what does Windows Live Messenger IM Control actually do? Easiest way to find out is to take a look at the team blog post:
The Windows Live™ Messenger IM Control lets people on the Web reach you in Messenger by showing your Messenger status on your web site, blog, or social networking profile. The Windows Live™ Messenger IM Control runs in the browser and lets site visitors message you without installing Messenger first. The IM Control is supported in IE6, IE7, and Firefox 2.0 on Windows and Firefox 2.0 on Mac OS. The IM Control is supported in 32 languages.
So how does this work? First you got to http://settings.messenger.live.com/applications/websettings.aspx, sign-in with your Live ID and enable the feature (so people that do not want to use this will never be bothered by people they do not know). Then you can either choose a simple status icon (that will link to a webpage where you can then start a conversation) or the web IM control itself that can be added to your blog or website. For Windows Live Spaces this requires a Custom HTML module right now but I imagine that you will eventually be able to simple choose the IM Control from the existing module list or that it will even be integrated in all of the contact cards that are used on Windows Live Spaces, etc.
When someone wants to talk to you he either has to sign in with his Live ID or as a Visitor (name can be modified) and has to pass a HIP verification (the ones with letters and numbers, also called captcha) before he can send you a message in order to avoid spam.
Angus Logan has more info and a detailed walkthrough over on his blog.