Microsoft Messenger for Mac 8 (beta) review

Microsoft blows hot and cold in its support of the Mac. For example, Internet Explorer dominates Windows web browsing, but there’s been no Mac version since 2003 – the year Safari debuted. Microsoft Messenger for Mac hasn’t had a point upgrade for two years and even now, this review is of the beta version of the next release.

Messenger for Mac 8 is worth a look for two significant new features though: integrated audio and video. Missing from all versions of Messenger for Mac, these functions have been available to Windows users since 2000 and 2005 respectively. A note to clear up confusion: Messenger 7 supported audio and video over Microsoft Office Communications Server, but not over the net.

So, the Mac version of Messenger finally catches up. Sort of. As expected, it looks the business. It’s slicker and less cutesy than older versions, with a distinct corporate undertone. For example, you can set up Pager messaging. Who has a pager these days? Turns out, this is an SMS feature.

Video worked seamlessly in our tests, with a connection quickly established at the touch of a button. We searched without success for video configuration tools though – you’re stuck with a rather low-quality result.

OUR VERDICT

Messenger 8 has most of the key features from Windows Live Messenger – file transfer, mobile texting, instant messaging and audio calls. It’s missing collaborative games and some of the clutter Messenger on Windows could frankly do without. It’s a cleaner, better-looking Messenger than its PC counterpart. Of course, tools like Skype do audio and video better and they’re cross-platform too, but we’d recommend Messenger for Mac if you have a contact list full of Windows Live loving friends.

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