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Brandon Le Blanc, Windows Communications Manager at Microsoft, posted a tweet this morning about an article he published on the Windows Experience Blog, that briefly looked at a new application Windows Live Messenger for Zune HD.

Some time ago I reviewed the application Twitter for Zune HD, which I have been using on my Zune HD 32GB together with the Zune HD Facebook app, to keep track of most important social networks. In this article I will review Windows Live Messenger for Zune HD, the latest addition to the Zune Marketplace, that fills the gap of a decent Instant Messaging client on this great multi-purpose device.

Download and installation Windows Live Messenger from Zune Marketplace

I launched Zune Software 4.2 on my Lenovo X60 tablet, signed in in the upper right corner and went directly for the marketplace tab, anc chose for the category apps.

In the overview of Apps for Zune HD I chose for the sub-category social networking, which is shown in the screenshot above. You can see there are already Facebook and Twitter clients for the Zune HD, and today Windows Live Messenger is added as well.

When you click on the Windows Live Messenger application in the Marketplace, you get an awesome overview with a description of the application as shown in the picture above. The next step to get Windows Live Messenger on my Zune HD 32GB is to click on the download button to start the download to “My Collection”. When the download is finished, the text on the download button changes to “In Collection”.

The next step is to install Windows Live Messenger for Zune HD from your collection onto the Zune HD 32GB. You simply go to the tab collection, and the category apps. You now get an overview of the applications for Zune HD which are in my collection on the Lenovo notebook.

I connect the Zune HD 32GB to my notebook and click in the Windows Live Messenger application. In the preview pane on the right you can read some details about the application, and you simply drag and drop Windows Live Messenger to the connected Zune HD 32GB in the left bottom corner. You can see in the picture above the Windows Live Messenger icon and the + that copies the application to the Zune HD.

Windows Live Messenger on Zune HD

In this section of the review I will provide a step-by-step overview of the Windows Live Messenger for Zune HD application. In the right picture above you can see the About-screen of Windows Live Messenger 2011 for Zune HD, which includes the latest features of Windows Live Essentials 2011.

Sign In

Just like any other application for Zune HD you go select the Apps category from the Zune homescreen, and select Windows Live Messenger among the applications to start the app. In the left screenshot you can see the first time sign-in screen of Windows Live Messenger 2011 for Zune HD.

You can see the great implementation of the panorama, which is a very helpful and unique part of the Metro design language for Zune HD and upcoming Windows Phone 7. In the top navigation you can see that you can switch between the sign in and about screens.

Because it is the first time sign in, the Windows Live Messenger avatar isn’t downloaded yet. Like you are used to from the Windows PC version you see the green border, that tells you that you sign-in with the available status. You can also select busy, away or even appear offline by clicking on the avatar.

In order to sign in to Windows Live Messenger 2011 for Zune HD, you click on the big arrow in the bottom right corner. You simply sign in via a two step sign-in process where you enter:  (1) the e-mail address of your Windows Live ID and (2) the password of your Windows Live ID and click on the “sign in button” on the keyboard.

The Zune HD now turns on  the Wireless radio and automatically connects with your Wi-Fi network (if you have configured this).

This results in the main screen of Windows Live Messenger 2011 for Zune HD. In addition to your avatar you have a box where you can directly “share something new” just like a status update and below that you can see a navigation menu that consists of 4 items: (1) social, (2) friends, (3) chats, and (4) options.

In the right screenshot you can see that I shared the text “Windows Live Messenger on Zune HD looks very nice and clean”. My avatar is downloaded as well. In the following sections below I will cover each of the four navigation menu items.


The panorama of the social menu consists of “tabs” that are also present in the Windows PC version of Windows Live Messenger 2011. In the list below are the panorama screens you can find in the social menu of Windows Live Messenger:

  1. Highlights;
  2. Recent;
  3. Me;
  4. Photos;
  5. Status Messages;
  6. Links;
  7. Videos;

In the left picture above you can see a screen with highlights (1) on Windows Live and its connected services. In the right picture above you can see a list of social items of me (3). Among these items it the notification that I connected Facebook and Windows Live and enjoy the benefits and synergy of the connection of both services.

“Messenger for the Zune HD lets you check out social updates from your friends on Windows Live which includes things they’ve shared from Facebook, Flickr, or MySpace and chat with your friends.”

In the left picture above you can see the shared links (6) on Windows Live. In this example it is the Cyclingnews article that covered the  Michael Matthews’ victory at the men’s under 23 UCI Road World Championships 2010. In the right picture you can see an overview of shared videos on Windows Live: A target=”_blank”>YouTube video of the HTC Desire Z, which has been announced a few weeks ago during the HTC Press Conference in London.


Instant Messaging is about communication with other people, which can be found under the navigation menu item friends. The friends panorama consists of four different screens/tabs, that are listed below.

  1. All;
  2. Favorites;
  3. Recent;
  4. Facebook;

In the all screen you get an overview of all (1) your Windows Live Messenger contacts, sorted by groups and sorted by status which is shown in the left picture above. Windows Live allows you to integrate with a wide range of other services like Flickr, MySpace, WordPress and Facebook.

“It (Windows Live Messenger) also supports Facebook Chat just like Messenger on your Windows PC does!”

Your Facebook contacts are listed in the Facebook (4) screen of the friends panorama. Now it doesn’t matter if your friend is logged in on  Facebook or Messenger, you can simply chat with him/her from within one application. The chat below with Mike Temprale was initiated as a Facebook chat, and it worked really well over multiple screens (I had Windows Live Messenger open on the Lenovo X60 tablet as well).

When you tab-and-hold on a contact you will get a pop-up menu, that allows you to perform certain actions. These actions are shown in the right picture above, where I can (A) send an IM, (B) remove from favorites, (C) appear offline, or (D) view social updates from Mike Temporale. In the left picture you can see that I have Mike Temporale added to my favorite (3) Windows Live contacts. I have a fairly limited number of Windows Live Contacts, that is easy to manage. So personally I don’t use the favorites feature myself.


The navigation menu item chats is self-explanetory. In the pictures above you can see my Windows Live Messenger chat with Mike Temporale, Microsoft Most Valuable Professional Mobile Devices and Editor in Chief of MobileJaw! In the left picture you can see the on-screen keyboard of the Zune HD, that works pretty well (but I’m a dedicated hardware keyboard fanatic) 🙂


Windows Live Messenger for Zune HD consists of a wide range of option screens, that are listed below. “Options” is the fourth navigation menu item from the Windows Live Messenger for Zune HD main screen.

  1. Personal;
  2. Contacts;
  3. Messages;
  4. Notifications;
  5. Sounds;
  6. Privacy;

Under personal (1) you can set the option to share the song that is currently playing on your Zune HD. This feature is also present in the Twitter and Facebook for Zune HD applications. In the contacts (2) screen you can configure how you want to sort the contacts. Sort by status or alphabetically. Timestamps and emoticons can be switched on/off under the messages (3) screen of the friends panorama, that is shown in the right picture above.

The notifications (4) and sounds (5) screens have the most options to configure. Both the screens from the options panorama are shown in the pictures above. You can see that these features are very comperable with the options of the PC version of Windows Live Messenger. In the privacy (6) screen can you delete your current Windows Live ID and sign-in with a new (fresh) Windows Live account.

Concluding thoughts and wrap-up

Yesterday Microsoft released Windows Live Essentials 2011 with improved versions of most applications in the Essentials Suite. I was a little surprised to see Windows Live Messenger for Zune HD to be released this morning, but it makes definitely sense due to the momentum and recent changes in the Windows Live value proposition.

The look and feel of Windows Live Messenger for Zune HD is very sleek and clean. In terms of features and functionality is pretty comperable with the PC version of Windows Live Messenger 2011, however with the advantage that you can use it on a mobile device. Windows Live Messenger for Zune HD is freeware, rock solid stable and pretty fast.

Microsoft released some more apps and games for Zune HD. Ian Dixon, Microsoft Most Valuable Professional for Windows Entertainment & Connected Home nd Editor in Chief of The Difital Lifestyle, wrote an article about Metronome for Zune HD and Windows Live Messenger for Zune HDBrandon Le Blanc, Windows Communications Manager at Microsoft,  mentioned three new games for Zune HD: WordMonger, Castles and Cannons, Dr. Optics.

Windows Live Messenger 2011 – Zune HD vs. Windows Phone 7 ?

I would like to wrap-up with a with the remark from Rob Miles, Microsoft Most Valuable Professional and a lecturer in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Hull, United Kingdom, during one of his sessions at DevDays 2010 in The Hague , Netherlands. He advised developers who would like to jumpstart development for Windows Phone 7 to buy a Zune HD and start developing for this device, due to the similarities in programming languages and tools.

Therefore I expect this version of Windows Live Messenger 2011 to be very very similar to the version you will see on Windows Phone 7, however this is pure speculation from my side. What do you think of Windows Live Messenger for Zune HD and has Windows Live Messenger for Windows Phone 7 ?


I am actually downloading it right now over wifi on my Zune HD