Messenger for Mac 6 “On Target”

by Aaron Wright Sep 20, 2006

According to APC Magazine, Microsoft is right on schedule in releasing their much-anticipated Messenger for Mac 6. Mary Starman, group product manager for Microsoft’s Macintosh Business Unit (MacBu), states that Microsoft plan on releasing “Messenger for Mac 6 in the next couple of weeks” – so an early October release.

The current release, Messenger 5.1, is some-what lacking when compared to its Windows counterpart, Windows Live Messenger. However, Messenger 6 promises to be a little better than Windows Live Messenger in a number of ways.

The good news for many Intel Mac owners is that Messenger 6 will be Universal Binary, allowing those on both Intel and PowerPC platforms to use the software, something that is missing from Messenger 5.1.

One thing I use most on AdiumX, a multi-network chat client, is the spell checker. Thankfully Messenger 6 will now incorporate this feature, showing a red squiggly line to denote a misspelled word. Assuming you have spelled a word incorrectly there will also be the option of having a box pop up with a list of suggestions for you to choose. What’s more, you can also add words to the dictionary. It’s almost like they’ve taken out a little part of Microsoft Word and pummelled it into Messenger 6.

As with Windows Live Messenger, Messenger 6 will now allow you to chat to others on the Yahoo! Messenger network, something that should go hand-in-hand with Yahoo! Messenger 3 that is still waiting for a final release. I tested this feature a while back using Yahoo! Messenger, with someone using Windows Live Messenger, and it seems that unless the person you’re talking to has enabled their account to chat cross platform then it cannot be done. Service Icons have also been included to allow you to see which network your friends are on.

For those of you that take emoticons seriously, you’ll now be pleased to hear Messenger 6 has introduced customizable emoticons. As has been seen in MSN Messenger (on Windows) for many years now, you’ll now be able to import your own suitably sized .GIF or .JPG images into Messenger 6 and use it in your conversations. Emoticons don’t tickle this humble writer, but I’m sure many ‘young-at-heart’ computer users out there will take full advantage.

A couple of other features that boost Messenger 6 to the level of Windows Live Messenger is the use of custom status messages and the ability to show others what you’re currently listening to in iTunes. Windows Live Messenger and previous versions of MSN Messenger 6 and upward had this feature to allow others to see what songs were being played in Windows Media Player and iTunes on your machine, so it’s about time they introduced it to the Macintosh platform. However, I’m not sure if anyone would really take this seriously enough to want to move away from chat clients such as Fire and AdiumX.

For those that use both Personal and Corporate accounts; the accounts are now no longer in tabs but in two separate windows. You’ll also be able to synchronize your online status, so that should you set yourself to ‘Away’ in your personal account, your corporate account will follow suit.

So all that sounds reasonably okay, maybe worth while upgrading from Messenger 5, but the one feature we’re all waiting to hear about is Audio and Video chat and unfortunately it’s not present.

For years Mac users have been frustrated by the lack of webcam and audio support in Messenger clients and it’s something that is so misunderstood as well. Fortunately Starman does have some answers, she says, “AV is something that we have heard very loud and clear from our customers, and it’s something that we are working on. We’d hoped to start our AV work sooner. But we support both the Windows Live Messenger platform and LCS. These use two completely different protocols for AV and porting either one of those over to the Mac OS is about a year and a half of developer time”.

“The good news is that they’re on a path to merge their AV infrastructure. Rather than just do one or just do the other and then end up with throw-away work after a year and a half of dev time, we’re currently in the middle of doing AV porting for the merged protocol that they’re both moving to.” – source:

Looks like we’re going to have to wait until Messenger 7, being released toward the latter part of 2007, before we see Audio and Video conferencing available on any Microsoft run messenger program.


  • If you want to do AV with Messenger using people on Windows go download aMSN ( or Mercury (

    Personally Fire is my IM client of choice… it does all I require and dispenses with the frivolous bells and whistles but to each their own…

    Serenak had this to say on Sep 20, 2006 Posts: 26
  • what a joke, yahoo IM has had AV on the mac for how long?????...isn’t microshaft a larger company than yahoo????????

    pixelzombie had this to say on Sep 20, 2006 Posts: 1
  • Just the name of the program is enough to make fun of Microsoft for not paying attention to detail.  It should be called Messenger 6 for Mac.  Messenger for Mac 6…. ohhhhh look, Microsoft Messenger for Mac OS 6.

    bdkennedy1 had this to say on Sep 20, 2006 Posts: 5
  • *Yawn*

    Bad Beaver had this to say on Sep 21, 2006 Posts: 371
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