When I first tried Vista last week I wondered why MSN Messenger was not bundled with the operating system. I thought at first that Microsoft was giving the other messaging programs a chance by not bundling their program. I thought they might be holding off because of a law suit or something, similar to the Internet Explorer fiasco. Now I think it was because MSN Messenger Live Beta is a separate product. I am pretty sure that the two will be bundled together upon release.
Anyway, I downloaded the new beta and it does not seem too different from the old version. One new feature I did notice but have not used yet is the folder sharing. It seems that the new messenger can be a file sharing service as well. There is a large warning when you open folder sharing against sharing copyrighted files. I can see folder sharing as a helpful addition if you were working on a project with a few other people who all used MSN messenger and you wanted to collaborate on some work. All that work could be stored in the shared folder without using Sharepoint or something.
I only have a few close friends on MSN messenger. Most of my friends and students actually use Google Talk but I might find a use for the feature in the future. I also noticed that there is more hype around the voice chat abilities of MSN messenger. I have used voice and video chat in the past and I would say that MSN does a fine job of it except for one point.
MSN messenger has never supported audio or video conferencing of more than 2 people. I do not know if they have changed that in this version but I doubt it. I do want to see if I can make calls to regular phone numbers or if it is the same service they have always had there you make calls to other MSN Messenger contacts. I will keep you posted on my findings.