Windows Live Messenger new features

Windows Live Messenger activities

Microsoft unveiled some new Windows Live Messenger features during Bill Gates’ keynote tonight at CES. My favorite new feature is Messenger activities prompted by a chat bot.


Microsoft showed off a chat bot that allowed a user to ask questions about TV programming. One possible response from the bot is a link to a list of shows playing that night, The link opens up directly inside the chat window in an activities pane, allowing the user to browse the content and ask the bot a few more questions. The bot is learning about the individual user and his or her preferences during the entire process. After a few searches are executed from the chat interface and displayed in the activity pane, the user finally wants to take action. In this example the user can add a TV show to their PVR with one click.

The interface is conversational, familiar to casual users, and provides immediate results in separated content areas. I can image a shopping chat bot presenting a user with shoe or handbag selections through this interface or a user viewing the latest search results from Technorati in an activity pane. Very cool stuff.

VoIP hardware

Philips and Uniden are building new cordless phone handsets with Windows Live Messenger capabilities built-in. Users can browse a list of contacts, view their availability, and place a call over their Internet connection. The phones use Windows Live Call services powered by MCI on the backend. Each handset has a bright color screen to view a friend’s contact card quickly and easily. It’s the first time I have seen instant messaging built-in to a household phone and may become more common as online identities become merged over multiple points of contact.

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