Because of the evolution of Windows Live Messenger with the advent of the Wave 4 release, the next iteration of Microsoft’s instant messaging client will no longer feature one-way webcam functionality. At the same time, Microsoft recently released an update, which it called a minor refresh, for Windows Live Messenger 2009. Quick-Fix Engineering 3 for the current version of Windows Live Messenger is designed, among other things, to kill the one-way webcam functionality in the IM client. As I said when the update went out, the change is set up to pave the way for the delivery of Windows Live Messenger Wave 4.
“The next version of Windows Live Messenger, releasing globally in the coming months, features two-way calling with high quality audio and high-definition video. This enhancement required significant changes in the audio and video stack used across all of our Windows Live services. This week’s Wave 3 update (called “QFE3”) upgrades the current release of Messenger with the new stack. As part of this upgrade, we are retiring one-way webcam functionality,” revealed Arthur de Haan, Director, Windows Live Test and System Engineering (via LiveSide).
The promise from Microsoft is that it has considered the implications of the modification carefully, and decided to go ahead with killing one-way webcam functionality nonetheless. According to de Haan, the scraping of the feature will be compensated by the enhancements in terms of performance and call quality, which are delivered to Wave 3 customers. At the same time, de Haan hopes that high-definition video for Windows Live Messenger Wave 4 will make no users miss one-way webcam functionality.
Still, according to an extensive explanation offered by Piero Sierra, Group Program Manager for Shared Data Experience, users can still have one-way webcam conversations. “In our latest update, we have simplified the command to just ‘Start Video Call’… If you have a webcam, but your friend does not, they will be able to see you and hear you, and you’ll be able hear them if they have a microphone. If you do not want to hear your friend, or do not want to share your audio, you can simply toggle the microphone icon next to your picture or the speaker icon next to your friend‘s picture,” he said.
“There are only really two aspects that are different: (1) it is no longer easy to hide your webcam’s feed if you have one enabled when you start a video call (you can still do this using the AV settings dialog). (2) You can no longer set up ‘webcam rings’ with multiple people sharing silent video one-way. There are valid reasons to enable both of these scenarios, but their usage was very infrequent, and made both the user experience and the code overly complicated. This is why we have chosen to move forward with a simpler option. Please look for a post soon about our expanded video capabilities in Wave 4,” Sierra added.
Windows Live Messenger 14.0.8117.416 is available for download here.