Messenger 9, GTalk integration, Messenger API, new client for Mac OS X – news unveiled at Georgia Tech presentation (whew)

In a presentation to the Georgia Institute of Technology’s IEEE Student Branch yesterday, Microsoft employee and Georgia Tech (edit: graduate former student – Jenks went to work for MS before graduating) Andrew Jenks had some surprises in store. “It wasn’t originally planned to be announced yesterday, but when he found out he was coming down (since this is his alma mater) he wanted to announce it”, so instead of his planned talk on “Life and development at Microsoft”, he spent the hour announcing a new Messenger API – “the Tech Preview will be released during MIX 08 and the Beta 1 will be released when WLMessenger 9 ships in late 08 or early 09”, according to Steven Hollingsworth (known online at Neowin and elsewhere as AmpCoder), a Georgia Tech student and IEEE Student Chapter member who attended the presentation. 

According to his “Ampcoder” post at  Neowin, Hollingsworth said “The API is very basic right now but by the time the first beta is released, the team hopes that they can include full support for everything that the full messenger client uses, including audio/visual protocols and other things on top of the basic text messaging and nudge messaging that the API currently includes”. Hollingsworth was upset that he didn’t bring a camera, but did take notes on the presentation:

Internal builds are already at WLM 9 and includes many of the API components. They have a team working on multi-person audio/video chat for WLM that may or may not be in 9, but should be in by 10. They are also trying to work out a way for WLM users to chat with AIM/GTalk/ICQ users like the way Yahoo! works now, and they have an internal version that works with GTalk already (but very basic). MS will no longer update the MSN Messenger for Mac, but they are going to release a brand new client for Mac OS X that is according to him “Really, really cool and awesome” but he would not provide anymore details due to his NDA.

Those plans may change, Hollingsworth quoted Jenks as saying, but “this is the current schedule”.  Apparently Jenks provided quite a detailed demo, described by Hollingsworth:

One feature of the API he demonstrated was he created a Vista Sidebar gadget that showed a single contact and their status. Double clicking on it opened up a chat, dragging text, images, or files to the gadget automatically started a file transfer or sent the text. Another use was for servers “talking” to administrators, and he showed how he could have a server linked with the API that would alert the admin through WLM by text whenever the HDD space was low and he could get that forwarded to his cell phone. and he also showed a user-created app that would show exactly where all of your friends were in the world using some of the abilities of the API and the information provided by your contacts. Also, he showed how he could recreate the entire WLMessenger program (with his horrible UI that he joked about) in only a little over 400 lines of code, with full chat/nudge/file transfer support between it and the real version of WLM.

Some additional tidbits, including news of a newer version of Windows Live Messenger for the Xbox:

He did all of his coding in Visual C#, and he said that a newer version of the Server API would be released soon. Oh, he said that the WLM that is integrated into the Xbox Live platform was version 7, and they are currently working on upgrading that to WLM 8.5 and possibly even 9.

I think that is about everything, we talked for a couple of hours after the presentation, but that is all covered under beta NDAs that we are both under.

So just to review, according to what Hollingsworth reported that Jenks said:

  • New API coming for Messenger, hopefully including “full support for everything the full messenger client uses”
  • API Tech Preview to be released at Mix08, Beta 1 API ready with Messenger 9 final
  • Messenger 9 ships in late 08 or early 09
  • MS is trying to work out a way for WLM users to chat with AIM/GTalk/ICQ: basic internal version of GTalk working now
  • Brand new version of Messenger for Mac OS X coming – “really cool and awesome”, MSN Messenger for Mac will not be updated
  • Xbox Live, now using Messenger 7, will be upgraded to 8.5 or possibly 9

(Thanks to the tipster who pointed us to AmpCoders post over at Neowin, and thanks to Steven for talking to us via IM)

Our previous posts on Windows Live Messenger, including the current 8.5 beta build, can be found here.