|So this is what the future looks like. Microsoft released Mac Messenger 7.0 yesterday. The big deal about this release is its support for OCS 2007. In fact, if you’re not an OCS user, there aren’t a lot of new features here (though you can set nicknames for Live Messenger contacts, a useful feature). However, if you are using OCS, there’s a ton of good stuff.
Let’s start with the obvious: there are some new icons in the toolbar that weren’t there before. You can now place, and answer, audio and video calls through OCS. For example, if someone on my team calls me with Communicator, I’ll get a toast telling me that there’s an inbound audio call,and I can answer it, then escalate it to a video call at any time.
Second, you may notice that the “pawn”-style presence icons from previous versions have been replaced with the OCS-style “jellybean” icons. The coloring and shading of these icons is subtly different from those in Communicator, but they fit in well with the overall UI. The large jellybean next to the account name lets you change your presence status to the states supported by OCS: available, busy, do not disturb, “be right back”, and away. As in previous versions of Messenger, you can choose whether or not you want to synchronize the presence states of your MSN Messenger and OCS accounts, although these states don’t necessarily have a 1:1 mapping.
|Third, there’s a way to search the GAL! The search field works just like you’d expect: when you enter a full or partial name, you get a list of results in a search pane at the top. I haven’t been able to get this feature to work for federated contacts yet (although I can add federated contacts directly if I know their e-mail address). The utility of the GAL search feature varies according to the size of your GAL: the bigger the GAL, the more useful this feature is.
Fourth, we finally get support for multiple points of presence (MPOP). If you’re logged in to more than one OCS endpoint (say, a Tanjay phone and Messenger), all of the endpoints will publish their local presence states to OCS, and OCS will aggregate them and publish a composite presence state. For example, let’s say that I’m using my Tanjay to place an outbound call. Its presence will show as “in a call”, but my Messenger presence may be “available”. OCS will take both states into consideration, decide that “in a call” trumps “available”, and publish a presence for others to see of “in a call”. This is particularly useful when you consider that OCS has a mobile client (Communicator Mobile), a web client (Communicator Web Access), and two desktop clients, plus devices like the Tanjay. It’s common for a single user to be logged in at more than one place.
One feature I haven’t tested at all is Bonjour support, in both the OCS and personal portions of the client. This might be great if you work for a large company or frequently travel to places where there are lots of other Mac users; neither of those is true of me, so I have no idea if this feature works or is useful. Stay tuned; I’ll try it on my next couple of business trips and report back on what happens.
There are some Communicator/OCS features that aren’t included in this release. For one, you cannot place outbound PSTN calls like you can in Communicator. there’s no way to change the access level of a contact or to tag a contact for status change alerts. At present, there’s no way to join an OCS-hosted conference; Messenger has very limited AppleScript support, and it is not as well-integrated with Entourage as it could be. Overall, though, this is a solid release, and the price ($0) is certainly hard to beat.