Microsoft Messenger for Mac due for update in March

According to a posting by Microsoft employee Eric Wilfrid on the Office for Mac blog, the company will finally release a new version of its Messenger for Mac within weeks.

Many Mac users hate the current Microsoft Messenger for Mac 7 because it does not support conversations with webcams and microphones for private users, and Mac users with friends on Messenger have had to result to clones or open-source alternatives.

It is not hard to speculate why MS avoids pumping too much time or effort into the small but lively Mac Business Unit – why support the competition?

There are in fact strong arguments in favor of MS supporting the Mac platform.

  • Don’t disgruntle Mac owners that buy or will soon upgrade Office for Mac (Office 2011 is under development for release in Q3/Q4)
  • Build the brand; get the name around
  • Be the good guy by offering consumers choice
  • Win over the technology press
  • In the case of chat software, win over young opinion leaders
  • Perhaps even pave the way to enter a new market and compete with Skype on both major OS platforms

Either way, soon Mac users can stop feeling so left out by MS and will finally have the same (or almost the same) A/V features in Microsoft Messenger as Windows users. While an early build of Microsoft Messenger for Mac 8 surfaced back in March of 2009, it was unstable.

The worst part was, that the widespread public knew that MS was almost done with a useable version of the package and seemed to be purposefully delaying the beta release to help support the launch of Windows 7 and deny Mac users software parity.  The official reason for the delay was “problems with the current A/V code”. Even if quality was an issue, it is hard to believe that a company as large as MS would need a FULL YEAR to solve such a small problem.

Owners of Office for Mac 2008 may recall that for the longest time, the package was not on par with the Windows version of Office. Not only Visual Basic scripting features were missing, but Excel statistics features were nowhere to be found. Both issues are set to change for Office 2011, which mirror the feature set of its Windows counterpart, Office 2010.

It may be time for an old dog to learn new tricks and Microsoft is finally doing just that by siding with consumers by giving them the choice of A/V chat software. What’s next? An official MS Messenger for the iPhone? We’re not counting our chickens just yet, but still we can’t wait to get our hands on the new Messenger for Mac – stay tuned.