Windows Live Messenger beta is now available for anyone to download and install, a public beta rather than a private beta. In our continued effort to empower developers interested creating components for customizing Windows Live Messenger 8.0 via the extensibility model, we have set up functionality in Windows Live Messenger try out and test the new Add-ins feature. Add-ins are API hooks to customize, extend, and build upon the Windows Live Messenger client application. We plan to release this Add-in SDK as a download for msdn.com in early June, so beta feedback on the Add-ins SDK need to be sent to us by the end of May.

Messenger Add-ins are disabled by default and are for developers. With Windows Live Messenger 8.0, the Add-in feature in the Options dialog is disabled by default. Add-ins can be enabled using a Windows Registry setting and exist for developers and do not target consumer usage at this time. So you will not see Add-ins mentioned as a primary new feature in Windows Live Messenger version 8.0 and instead it is a feature for developers in beta test mode only. In a future release of Windows Live Messenger beyond version 8.0, we may release a new version of the Windows Live Messenger that will include the Add-ins feature enabled in the Options dialog by default for all users. We ask that you work on creating your Add-ins and report back to us any feedback on how we can improve the SDK and extensibility feature set in the future.

To enable the Windows Live Messenger Add-ins tab in the Tools...Options dialog, create a .reg file using Notepad or other called something like WLMessengerAddins.reg containing the following text, and then execute/start the file to update the Windows Registry.

REGEDIT4

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\MSNMessenger]

"AddInFeatureEnabled"=dword:00000001

Information and free download links can be found at http://ideas.live.com. The MessengerSays blog has up to date information and tips about Windows Live Messenger. Next month we will make a .NET based Windows Live Messenger Add-ins SDK beta (for Visual Studio 2005 developers) available for download, and we will announce it at http://msdn.com/live. We look forward to getting your feedback and learning what you are able to build with the Windows Live Messenger APIs using the Windows Live Messenger Add-in SDK.

The
LiveSide.net blog (an independent web site not related to Microsoft) just posted a podcast show (Interview with Ken Levy, Product Planner for the Windows Live Platform, 20 minute MP3) they did with me last week about the new Windows Live Add-in hooks for developers and other developer-centric discussions related to the Windows Live Platform.