Windows Live Messenger 2011 Beta Refresh – little things do matter

Windows Live MessengerWindows Live Messenger 2011 was released just over a week ago, and along with the release Microsoft turned on the long-awaited feature – Facebook chat integration. While we reported some of the major updates to the beta refresh release, after one week of usage, we noticed some very subtle changes and improvements in Messenger that shows Microsoft’s attention to detail in their new release. Here’s just to name a few:

  • Thumbnail view – When viewing any photos on the Messenger social feed, clicking on the will open the album view. One new feature we noticed in the beta refresh is the “Thumbnail view”, as shown below. It’s quite a beautiful experience:
    Thumbnail View
  • Dynamic video call button – Based on customer feedback, Microsoft has added an option for users to easily turn on or off their webcam and audio during video conversations. Not only this, but the “video call” button at the toolbar below the text area seems to change depending on whether the other person has a webcam or not:
    Dynamic video call button
  • Facebook wall posts in Messenger social – Before the beta refresh, only your Facebook friend’s status updates (content posted by your contact, such as their status, photos, videos or links posted) would appear on your Messenger social feed. With the beta refresh, we noticed that if your Facebook contact had written on another friend’s wall on Facebook, and both contacts are your friends, then it would show up on your Messenger social feed too!
    Facebook wall posts in Messenger social

However, not all is good. While at some places we can see Microsoft really demonstrated their attention to detail, we still noticed some areas where Microsoft has overlooked or forgotten about, such as these:

  • Messenger conversation history still has an old UI – It’s been like this in Wave 3, and it has carried on to Wave 4. The icons in shown below seems to indicate that it dates back to the Wave 2 days:
    Message history
  • Groups conversation windows does not remember its window size – Whenever you open a Groups conversation, the window will automatically reset to the default window size. If you open any other regular conversation windows after that, they will be reset to the default window size too. Quite an annoying bug!

Of course, this is still beta version, so things are still subject to change before final release later this year. In fact, Paul Thurrott is saying that there are still new features coming on its way in the upcoming release(s) of Windows Live Essentials 2011. So stay tuned!

Are there any other little enhancements you found  in Messenger beta refresh (or any other Essentials apps) that’s worth noting or you particularly liked? Let us know in the comments below!