Messenger 2009 QFE3 update removes Webcam feature and the I’m (*help) emoticon
If seems this latest “update” to Windows Live Messenger 2009 is in fact a downgrade as the entire webcam feature has been removed as well as the emoticon. UPDATE (5/17/2010): As noted by commenter mj, the "Save/Import instant messaging contacts" feature has been removed. See the following article for more.
As I noted back in my analysis of the Windows Live Messenger 2010 video, Messenger for a long time has had two video functions – Webcam and Video Call. Webcam has some notable features, such as being able to show your webcam to multiple people, not forcing others to transmit audio/video in the session, as well as not having embarrassing connectivity problems with VPNs and multiple network adapters.
However, in this simple build number increase to Messenger, the webcam feature has completely disappeared. It is not listed in the top menus and clicking the webcam icon next to a display picture just starts a video call.
Not only that, but if someone on a previous build of Windows Live Messenger 2009 attempts to use Webcam with you, they are immediately declined. You do not receive a notification that they even attempted to contact you via webcam! Certainly this could cause some issues among close contacts.
Also taken away in this release is the emoticon intended for the i’m initiative. This has flooded contact lists since 2007 and is very well used even though the program ended in March of this year. Take a quick peak at my contact list for example on both versions:
The Inside Windows Live blog stated yesterday, “This is a minor release with a small set of targeted bug fixes and minor changes. Even though most users will not run into the issues we addressed, we felt they were important to fix.” However, I think that webcam functionality with five years of Messenger versions is somewhat more than a minor change. I highly suspect that Microsoft was paying licensing for the webcam functionality (assuming it hasn’t changed over the years, it originally came from Logitech) and has decided not to renew, thus producing a need to remove it from the product. If this is the case, we can probably suspect a forced “upgrade” in the coming months. It’s bad enough that the feature is gone, but even worse that you aren’t even aware that someone who hasn’t upgraded has just tried to use webcam with you.
Sure, the emoticon certainly shouldn’t stay in its present form if the I’m initiative program has ended, but why not just keep it in until Messenger 2010, or simply change the image so it’s somewhat different? Certainly it’ll be years before contact lists don’t see it anymore.
The absolute worst aspect of this “update” is the complete lack of communication from Microsoft. Sure, there’s been features removed from major versions, and forced upgrades without a single notice, but never before has a major feature [webcam] in Messenger been removed in a so-called minor update.
I, for one, am downgrading back to the previous version.