Is Microsoft ignoring Live Messenger Beta testers?

Back when Microsoft was releasing the very first versions of Vista, I was one of the few who managed to land a spot in their team, and as such, I helped test and suggested, or sponsored, a few changes I happened to agree with. Thankfully, most of them were implemented, and all, or most beta testers were happy to see that despite the few bumps and contradictions made on some of the builds, the end product ended up pleasing most of us.

But it looks like not all Beta testers have the same luck. Last September Microsoft launched the first beta for the next Windows Live client which brought a few useful features to the client, but nothing revolutionary. Features wise, Live Messenger is a few generations behind other clients like Yahoo Messenger and Trillian. And some features we take for granted in most IMs like Tabbed chatting.

“The first Windows Live Messenger 9.0 Beta build was released in November 2007. The release brought the ability to sign into Messenger from up to four computers at once, the ability to choose customized sounds for your sign-in and for your contacts, URLs in Personal Status Messages, and Animated Display Pictures. However, features requested across the many Messenger programs such as Tabbed Conversations and the ability to decline a group conversation invite were nowhere to be seen.”

Microsoft aims to become the most popular IM client, but it saddens me to see them giving the testers the silent treatment. If they want to have limited Beta testing periods, for a select few users, to gain better PR and help improve the product doesn’t this treatment contradict what Beta testing should be about?

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