Well I suppose I had better shove up something on Windows Live Messenger (formally known as MSN Messenger), I was very concerned as I always am about this product it's something I use a lot, and it's something that is getting more and more bloated with every release. Luckily it's still very useable despite all the silly stuff like winks and other weird stuff I never use. It's still very fast and now has a much nicer UI, despite all the useless stuff it's still just as fast as previous releases. So would that really be defined as bloat? Anyway...
I'll start off with the main window.
I'll start with the bad points, the ad block is now larger, but so far the ads themselves seem to be the same size as in 7.x but it looks like they've got potential to get bigger - at the moment it's doing the same ads as the previous version so it's hard to tell. That's about the only negative thing. It's now got several improvements cool little hover panels, which when you hover over a contact like Miss Moo in this case it shows some quick shortcuts for regular tasks like sending a message etc.
It's now also got a word wheel thing.
Just type in a few letters and boom it will filter the contacts, not only from their nickname, but their real names and even notes about them. But that brings me onto another point. The contact panels, you can now store all your contacts in Messenger 8.0, but for some reason I can't find a way for it to simply pull the data from Outlook - that needs to be implemented, I am not going to re-enter all the data for the contacts, it's just not going to happen.
Colour picker, yup you can change the colour of the UI, for some reason the default is orange, not very nice.
Another thing is the default background is just grey in this build. So the background below is one of my own and isn't in the product. Offline messaging is a big improvement, bringing it level with ICQ now.
Another key feature is sharing folders, rather than having to actually send files to another person you can simply create a folder which is accessible by your contact.
And let's throw in a shot of the alert window too.
This isn't all the new features of the product, there's a few other key ones such as PC to telephone calling and probably lots of others that have slipped my mind.
Overall verdict on this build - good! I will be using it.
A few things about the whole re-branding to Windows Live though - Windows is a professional product, it looks professional it's used by professionals, but Windows Live Messenger is very geared towards teenagers, with winks and theme packs and adverts and all that sort of stuff to me it almost seems like it's cheapening Windows, something they could get away with calling it MSN. I'm concerned about what's going to happen to my fall back position of Windows Messenger - which I'd use if MSN Messenger ever become too bloated. I'd be willing to pay a small amount of money per year for an ad free version if it had the option of disabling features I don't want to use and getting them off the UI.
Anyway when it finally ships I'd recommend everyone to upgrade.