A Chat about Messenger


Hi, my name is Anav and I work on the Messenger for Mac product in Mac BU. I follow the blog and newsgroup comments out there and I know there are questions on the status of Messenger for Mac, and more specifically the status of Audio/Video (AV) support. It’s been a while since we’ve given you an update on Messenger, so here it goes…

First, let me start by saying, Messenger for Mac is alive and well and we plan to continue investing in the application. In August we released Messenger for Mac 6.0.3, which introduced support for Danish, Finnish, and Norwegian languages. Messenger for Mac 6.0.3 is also the version that will ship with Office 2008. A couple of weeks ago we kicked off a closed beta program of Messenger for Mac 7.0 for corporate customers*, and made great progress in the implementation of AV in Messenger for Mac.

You might recall the Mac Mojo blog post on this topic a while back ("Messenger: haves and hA/Ve nots"), we shared with you some details on the technical challenges involved in delivering AV in Messenger for Mac. Just to recap, Messenger for Mac supports both the Corporate service (Office Communications Server) and Personal service (Windows Live Service). Messenger for Mac is adopting the AV stack (protocol) that is being used by Office Communications Server (OCS). Windows Live Messenger is also currently adopting that same AV stack. This is great for Messenger for Mac since it enables us to adopt one single AV stack to be used in both services, Personal and Corporate.

OK, that’s the short recap of what we shared with you previously (I recommend reading the blog post for the long version), now on to a status of where we are. We have hit the first major milestone toward AV for all by successfully implementing AV for the Corporate service in the Messenger for Mac 7.0 beta. This is a closed beta program offered to organizations deploying OCS 2007 and is aligned with the Unified Communications products launch that took place October 2007. In our previous blog post we mentioned that you will see the AV solution on Corporate service before Personal, and so we are on track with that plan.

The AV solution for the Corporate service is really cool. I’m dogfooding the feature at work and I’m using a video conversation with co-workers using Office Communicator on Windows. Even better, I’m chatting with MacBU co-workers like Akiko (who works in Japan), Eric (who works in Ireland) and Rebecca (who works in Atlanta) -- and finally I see what they look like! ☺. Sorry to be teasing you here, but trust me when I tell you, we can’t wait to deliver AV in both Corporate and Personal Messenger that you can all use as well.

That leads to the next question – "what about AV for the Personal service?" Since we’ve successfully implemented AV for Corporate service, and the AV stack we are using is being adopted right now by Windows Live Messenger, that means we are that much closer to having an AV solution on Personal service. However, we’re not there yet. To ensure compatibility between Windows Live Messenger and Messenger for Mac, we have to wait until Windows Live Messenger completes their transition to the new AV stack before we can deliver this on our end. This leads us to the topic of why it is we have all these dependencies…

One of the most important goals for product development in Mac BU is making sure that the products we deliver work cross platform. Since Messenger is a real-time communication solution, enabling users to communicate cross-platform is very important. To accomplish this, the protocols used by the Mac and Windows programs have to be the same. Hence, the dependencies… The good news is that Windows Live Messenger has made great progress on the integration of the new AV stack in to their system. Unfortunately, we can’t give you a specific time frame in which you will see a Messenger for Mac release with AV for the Personal service. However, we can say that it is definitely in progress.

So you may be wondering what the Messenger for Mac team is up to in the mean time… well, aside from vacationing on a deserted island (just kidding)… The serious answer is that we are working very hard to complete the AV work for the Corporate service for the next version, as well as helping out the Office for Mac team to deliver Office 2008.

For those of you who are patiently waiting, I just want to say thank you for your patience and bear with us a little longer as the work is in progress and hopefully it will be worth the wait. It will be pretty priceless to see family, friends, and co-workers sending you a real smile through a video conversation in addition to the smiley emoticon through IM…

* Messenger for Mac Corporate beta program is a closed beta and offered to selected enterprise organizations. For more information about this beta program please contact your Microsoft Account Manager.