Windows Live Messenger for Vista available

IM client has been optimized for the new OS and includes such upgrades as an improved interface, a 'roaming identity,' and the ability to send messages to cell phones

Microsoft has released the final version of its new IM client optimized for Windows Vista.

Windows Live Messenger 8.1 offers enhancements that make it more compatible with Vista, which had its widespread consumer release on Tuesday.

Updates in the IM client include new looks for emoticons, contacts, and display photos that take advantage of Vista's new and improved user interface, Microsoft said.

Microsoft also added the ability to send an SMS (short message service) to a phone number or add phone numbers for contacts by clicking on a cell-phone icon in the client's main window. Also new is the ability to send a personal message when users want to add a new contact to their contact list.

Windows Live Messenger 8.1 also includes a "roaming identity" feature that allows not only a person's display name to follow users any place they sign into, but also their display picture and personal message.

In addition to new features, the software's final version corrects a problem users were having with beta versions, according to a post on the Inside Windows Live Messenger blog, which is written by members of the team working on the product.

A user with an old version of Adobe's Flash technology on Vista would crash the Windows Live Messenger 8.1 beta client, wrote Nicole Steinbok, product manager for Windows Live Messenger. However, the final version of the software fixes that.

"I still highly recommend you update your Flash player if you haven't already," Steinbok wrote in the post. "But if not, we have put in an extra safety measure [that] disable features that use Flash and provides you a way to upgrade to eliminate the Flash crash."

Windows Live Messenger also is available in eight new languages: Bulgarian, Estonian, Croatian, Latvian, Romanian, Serbian Latin, Thai, and Ukrainian.

Microsoft rival Yahoo also plans a release of its Yahoo Messenger IM client that is optimized for Vista. Yahoo previewed the IM client at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month and will put out a beta by June, with a version to follow in the third quarter of the year.

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