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 Windows Live Calls powered by Voype
Windows Live Calls powered by Voype

dwergs says ( 24 Oct 2008 ):

 

To VoIP or not to VoIP? At this point, the answer is affirmative again. After earlier deals with Verizon and Net2Phone, and then completely pulling outbound PSTN calling earlier this year, Microsoft has teamed up with Telefónica, the largest telecom provider in Latin America, to reinstate the Make a Phone Call feature in Windows Live Messenger. Telefónica's Voype service allows Messenger users in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru, the United States and Venezuela to make calls directly from their client to landlines and cell phones around the world at a reasonable price.

Competing with the king of VoIP software, Skype, they've managed to fix the rate for calls in the States at $0.014 per minute, which is cheaper than the competitor's $0.021 rate. Unfortunately, there's no service similar to SkypeIn allowing others to call you on Messenger. However, Telefónica said "the functionality is scheduled for release at a later point, as part of the second phase.". If you want this feature now, I suggest you take a look at GTalk2VoIP.

UPDATE: The Messenger team posted instructions on how to make a call depending on the version of Messenger you're using.

To make a call in Messenger, it will depend on what version you have.

If you are using Windows Live Messenger 8.0, 8.1 or 8.5, just click on the phone icon either in the main window or choose a contact and click on the phone icon. From the drop down menu, select "Call a phone". Add a phone number, click on enter and start talking! You’re all set. It’s that easy.

If you are already using the new Windows Live Messenger beta, there are a few of ways you can make a call. You can hover over a contact and if you have a phone associated with that contact, just click on "call work", "call mobile", etc. You can also open up a conversation window with that contact and click on the phone icon and enter their telephone number. For ad hoc calls, you can launch Windows Live Call from the start menu under All Programs > Windows Live Call beta, enter their telephone number and click Call. Choose whichever way is most convenient for you!"
>> Visit the Voype by Telefonica homepage.
>> Compare the rates of Voype vs. Skype.
>> Read Tom Keating's comments and Microsoft's early announcement.



 Heads up: don't leave a blocked Group!
Heads up: don't leave a blocked Group!

dwergs says ( 24 Oct 2008 ):

 

A nasty bug in the Windows Live Messenger Wave 3 beta leaves a number of users unable to sign in after leaving a blocked Group. Brian Moudy, now web famous from the interview posted earlier this week, warns users of the beta through the team blog:

Windows Live Messenger GroupsTo avoid the issue yourself, please DO NOT block a group and then leave the group. If you plan to leave a group, please unblock it first. Following this precaution will ensure that you will not be affected by this issue.

We are currently working hard to fix the problem and allow those customers who have been affected to once again sign-in to the Messenger beta.
Those affected will have to be patient, revert to Windows Live Messenger 8.5 or an alternative (web) client.

>> What exactly are Groups? Read this comprehensive overview of the new feature written by Steven Abrahams, Lead Program Manager for Windows Live Messenger.



 Pics for MSN Friends scam makes another comeback
Pics for MSN Friends scam makes another comeback

dwergs says ( 23 Oct 2008 ):

 

pics for msn friends hoaxIt's been a while, but there seems to be a sudden resurgence of the Pics for MSN Friends hoax which invites Messenger users to provide their e-mail and password in return for, well, nothing. It's hard to understand people are still falling for this when the website blatantly states that "by using our service/website you hereby fully authorize TST Management, Inc to send messages of a commercial nature via Instant Messages and E-Mails on behalf of third parties via the information you provide us".

These "commercial" messages look like this:

Hey check out the pics from the crazy party!! they are nuts LOL! go here to see
...and are followed by a link to picsforparty.info, bakblu.com, burnoutpeeps.com, insanethingsforyou.com and other random domain URLs that contain the receiver's username at some point.

If you've entered your details on one of the many Pics for MSN Friends sites, you'll notice that you'll be randomly disconnected from Windows Live Messenger because "you've signed in at another location". Of course that's not you, it's TST Management, Inc (or whoever) annoying the hell out of your contacts with commercial messages sent on your behalf. There's only one solution, and that is to change your password at accounts.live.com.



 Windows Live Freebies features Halloween Theme Pack
Windows Live Freebies features Halloween Theme Pack

dwergs says ( 23 Oct 2008 ):

 

We already mentioned the I'm a PC Theme Pack last week, but another featured download has recently been added to the Windows Live Freebies page: the Halloween Theme Pack. It includes the following free Messenger goodies:

- One Ghost static display picture
- One Cemetery conversation window background
- One full-window Ghosts Wink

Free Windows Live Messenger Ghost Wink

Other Windows Live Freebies for this month:

- 12 I'm a PC display pictures, four nerdy emoticons and four conversation window backgrounds.
- Three animated American Football emoticons.
- One Dancing Robot Chicken wink.
- Five Glassy Aliens emoticons.
- One Water Bubbles conversation window background.
- One Preppy Argyle conversation window background.

When you try to download the desktop screensaver Wind-up Chicken, it downloads the Water Bubbles background to Messenger instead. Quickfix it, MS!

>> Visit Windows Live Freebies.



 Interview with the Windows Live Messenger team
Interview with the Windows Live Messenger team

dwergs says ( 22 Oct 2008 ):

 

During a recent visit to Microsoft's Red West campus, Kip "LiveSide" Kniskern had a chat with three Program Managers on the Windows Live Messenger Shell Team team (ie. user interface) about last month's Wave 3 release. From the 30-minute interview, I've filtered out for you their brief bios and mentions of changes in future releases.

Alton Kwok, three years at Microsoft and one year with Messenger, focuses on the main window, particularly What's new, Favorites and MPOP in Wave 3. He predicts that the integration with Windows Live properties on the web will be the biggest change in the next release. At the moment, there are a few teasers built into the client that are unavailable, or link to unavailable pages (think Groups options, "Post a note", etc.). He also mentions that the grey-colored status labels will become optional in the final release. Redundant for most of us, these labels can be very useful for the colour blind who cannot perceive the changing colors of the display picture chicklet.

Brian Moudy, eight years at Microsoft but his first release with Messenger, is responsible for the Groups feature in the latest beta. He stresses that they're only just scratching the surface of this new feature. Expect identity and expression options for the Groups, such as a custom display picture and a personal status message. He also mentions the possibility of a seemless integration with Groups on the web: "You can have some sort of way to go back to look at previous topics of conversation in Messenger and vice versa."

Marisol Ontaneda, Program Manager for Windows Live Messenger ShellMarisol Ontaneda, 2.5 years at Microsoft and just six months with Messenger, focuses on the conversation window and particularly Mood Tiles and Scenes in Wave 3. And according to Marisol, there'll be even more investment in personal expression (emoticons, winks,...) in the next release. Sounds good!

>> Watch part one: Introduction and Alton Kwok.
>> Watch part two: Brian Moudy about Groups.
>> Watch part three: Marisol Ontaneda and program management discussion.



 More Groups options enabled in Windows Live Messenger 9 Beta
More Groups options enabled in Windows Live Messenger 9 Beta

dwergs says ( 21 Oct 2008 ):

 

Not sure if last weekend's downtime had anything to do with this, but around the same moment Microsoft switched on a few options for the Groups feature the in Windows Live Messenger Wave 3 Beta.

LiveSide, who first noticed this, made the following observations:

Previously these options were greyed-out, but today they’re being activated and directs you to the appropriate websites associated with the Group (...) Unfortunately most of these links currently directs you to the 404 "We can't find that page" page you'd get when you visit any of the beta urls we've found previously... with the exception of one – Groups Calendar!

Clicking on Calendar in that menu will direct you to your Groups' Calendar (...) You can even set the theme for your Group here. Although it doesn't seem like it's connecting yet (notice the "Group name goes here" text on the top), at least it gives us an idea of what's to come!
messenger group options



 Free Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 Avatar Pack
Free Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 Avatar Pack

dwergs says ( 20 Oct 2008 ):

 

Electronic Arts released a set of Messenger display pictures to promote their soon-to-be-released strategy game, Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3. If you know about any other game or movie production companies currently distributing free Messenger avatars to promote their titles, let me know.

red alert 3 command & conquer msn avatars>> Browse the 27 Red Alert 3 Avatars for MSN/Windows Live Messenger.
>> Download the entire Red Alert 3 Avatar/Buddy Icons Pack here.

UPDATE: Thanks Joseph for pointing me to these Saints Row 2 avatars soon after posting. Keep 'em coming!

>> Browse the 9 Saints Row 2 Avatars.



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