Coming at Mix 09: Adding Messenger to your site gets better and (much) easier

mixvegas Mix 09, Microsoft’s annual web developer conference held around this time in Las Vegas, is next week.  Last year we went down to listen to the Ray Ozzie keynote, and learn a bunch about the soon to be announced “Horizon”, or Live Mesh.  While we’re not going this year, we’ll be paying close attention to the keynotes and the sessions.

In looking through the session announcements (check out “Live Services”), we spotted a couple of mentions of a “Windows Live Messenger Web Toolkit”.  Now we’ve had some experience with adding Windows Live Messenger functionality to websites; we had it running here ourselves (and will soon again, stay tuned), and our good friend Colin Brown wrote a deep dive series for us on building out a custom implementation of Messenger.

However truthfully it was a bit of an undertaking to build your own web Messenger, even though the Messenger Library offers a full set of tools.  Looks like the Messenger platform guys took that to heart, and next week at Mix they will unveil their new Web Toolkit and the Web Bar, which makes the whole process quite a bit easier.

Of course we wouldn’t want you to wait all the way until next week, so we poked around a bit and came up with a couple of screenshots and a bit of early news on these new tools.

In these early pre-production screenshots, we get an idea of the ready to use features of the web toolkit:


With the Web Bar control installed, visitors to the site will be able to initiate conversations through an interface familiar to Windows Live Messenger users.  This allows users to interact via Messenger while visiting your site, but by opting in, users can chat with people without them needing to be on their buddy list, and can reach them in the client if they’ve opted in:


Nothing will be taken away from the Messenger Library: site owners will be able to use the web bar as one control, but the Web Toolkit controls will be fully extensible, and skinnable via CSS, giving a wide range of options from the easiest (web bar) to most flexible (Messenger Library).

So what does this mean?  We’ll have to wait for Mix to find out the whole story, but adding Messenger to your site to acquire users and bring them back, and to engage them to stick around longer, will soon become much easier for web developers and site owners.  We’ll have more soon, and will be looking forward to getting it up and running on LiveSide!  Can’t wait :).