Yahoo Messenger for Windows Vista preview version is finally available, after almost 12 months of silence. Hard to believe this application was announced all the way back in January at CES 2007. During the same amount of time, Microsoft has delivered five versions (3 beta, 2 final) of Windows Live Messenger.
However above all, the new Yahoo Messenger is possibly the first real mainstream application to take advantage of Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) and a number of Vista APIs for which I salute them for adopting new technology.
Comparing this preview release to the original conceptual design by Frog Design shows a number of subtle interface modifications but also a major disappointment.
Changes to the interface include the application windows are now encapsulated inside Windows Aero Glass frames. On one hand, this satisfies Microsoft’s Vista user experience guidelines which suggests all windows use the standard frame, but on the other seem rather quirky because the application has two harshly different styles of transparency.
The major disappointment is the lack of voice, video and sharing capabilities which were widely fanfared and demonstrated at CES. These features simply don’t exist in this version which leaves this client nothing more than just a fancy text instant messenger. The official blog states explains these features and more are coming in future releases which I hope isn’t on another 12-month cycle.
- The user interface looks great and is fun to use. For me it was the small things such as changing colour.
- Tabbed chatting. I'm sure there must have been a good reason why this hasn't been integrated in Windows Live Messenger yet, unfortunately that reason escapes me for the moment. There have been design ideas around how to implement tabbed chatting in MSN Messenger/Windows Live Messenger up in the hallways of RedWest for a while now, I wonder when somebody will actually do something with them...
- File transfers upto 2GB. Oh sure we have Shared Folders in Windows Live, but who actually uses those?
- An official sidebar gadget. I really don't know what to say for this one, Microsoft has seemingly abandoned sidebar gadgets to 3rd party developers for the last 12months and here comes Yahoo to ship a gadget at the same time as the beta application itself. Go Yahoo!
- The complete install took absolutely no time at all. Its just a shame that performance from this point onwards isn't so good.
- Performance - not great, especially given the 12month gap in getting this from CES to now. Looks like they might need another 6 months or so until release in order to refine it, which although not a bad thing, could mean they drop some more advanced features from the final release.
- No 64 bit support. Brandon touched upon this, and like him, I'm a recent convert to 64bit. This is definitely an area where Microsoft is improving its own support quite rapidly, hopefully this will filter out to those building on Microsoft technologies.
Windows Vista, Messenger, Beta, Windows Live, Yahoo Messenger, Yahoo!, Microsoft, IM, Launch