What Windows Live Messenger and Mail 2011 are Missing

on October 2nd, 2010 by Matt | No Comments »

Well, Windows Live Essentials 2011 came out yesterday. If you haven’t downloaded it yet, go over here and get it now!

So anyway, I’ve already used both the betas and always felt like they were missing something. When I installed the RTM, I noticed they were still missing features. So today, I’m going to release my little list of things I think both should have had.

Let’s start with Messenger. Firstly, it’s very hard to organize your contacts if you have MySpace, Facebook and LinkedIn connected to your Live account. The main problem with that is you only have 2 (very limiting) options of organization: via Online Status, or via Categories. Now, before Facebook Chat was enabled in Australia, I happily had my Messenger contacts sorted by Categories. They were listed as Forum Members, School, and Other. Some default ones which I had disabled were labeled as Facebook, MySpace and Offline (seeing as I like to put Offline contacts into a separate category. This is useful when you have almost 200 Messenger contacts). Now with Facebook Chat enabled, I cannot use that choice of organization. Why? Because Facebook contacts are in a completely separate category from my normal Messenger contacts. Not only that, but you can’t separate Online Facebook contacts, and Offline Facebook contacts. I have about 245 Facebook contacts. This form of organization does not work, because not only are the Facebook contacts separate from your normal ones, they are all in one group. Have you ever tried looking for who’s online in a list of over 200 contacts, in alphabetical order? I have, and it’s not fun. Now onto the SECOND form of organization. By Online status. This, at least, puts all your contacts into two categories: Online and Offline. Great! But wait, there’s a catch. In the Online list, it also includes people that are Away, Idle or Busy. If this form of organization is designed to sort by Online status, then shouldn’t those three be in separate categories? Or did I miss something? Another problem I have with organization is the Favourites list. I admit, I don’t talk to every single person in my contact list all the time, but I do talk to quite a few of them. So yesterday, I decided to start my Favourites list. Added about 20 people of those Favourite contacts that were currently online. Two hours later, about half of them have signed out. BUT, they are all still showing up in the Favourites list. If they are offline, then why are they in the list? The only time I want them in that list is when I can to talk to them! So, none of the current Contact organization is nice enough for me. Let’s move on.
Sometimes, contacts have to sign off pretty quickly, or you only spoke to someone for a few minutes. Most of us Windows 7 users (with our wonderful grouping feature), I’m sure, constantly forget to close old (unused) chat windows where the contact has signed off. I think that Messenger should have a feature that if a contact in a chat window has been offline after a set amount of time (of the user’s choosing), to automatically close that useless window. This would probably also extend to when chatting with Facebook contacts, because quite a few people (it seems) only go on Facebook for 5 minutes, and you sometimes choose to chat to one (or twelve) of them. Maybe twenty minutes later you might go through your chat windows, and notice that most of the people you spoke to are offline. This means you have to go through each one and close them. Yes, that’s what happened to me yesterday. Also, just a quick mention, every time I open a Facebook chat, not only do I see the in the window title, but I also see a small Facebook icon under the display picture and a “You are chatting via Facebook.” Why? Obviously, I KNOW I’m chatting to someone through Facebook, and if I didn’t know, I still wouldn’t need THREE notifications PER WINDOW.

I’m going to move on to Mail now. My biggest problem is this: no sense of control or customization. This includes the new font in the list of messages (changed from 2010 which had the perfect font. Now each message shows half a title), the inability to hide the ‘shortcuts’ in the bottom left corner, and a few other missing settings that require more info. My biggest dislike is when you delete an email, especially if it’s spam and you didn’t even open it. Once it is moved to the ‘Deleted items’ folder, it is still marked as ‘Unread’ and you get a number next to the folder saying how many deleted emails you haven’t read. I think Mail should be smart enough to have the ability to auto-switch a deleted email to ‘read’ and not bother the user. I also require the ability to disable the “Internet Security Warning” dialog when syncing with unverified certificates. The only way to currently do it easily is to set all your email accounts to using ‘clear text authentication’ for incoming mail. Now for some name and placement errors. The biggest would have to be for the button to send a new email (in the main window). To send an email, the button is on the Home tab of the ribbon in the section called ‘New’ and is labeled as ‘Email message.’ Why not simply call it ‘Send New Email?’ I’m sure other people (like me) spent a little time trying to find it when it’s actually right there. Secondly, I’d like to mention the placement of the ‘Send’ button on the New Message window. No, it’s not on the ribbon, that’s where the ‘Paste’ button is. Get this, it’s UNDER the paste button, next to the ‘To’ and ‘Subject’ lines. Oh, and I’d also like the ability to hide the icon in the notification area, seeing as we can’t minimize the window to there anymore (at least, not in Windows 7).

Anyway, thanks for reading my rant. If you’ve got anything else to add, other than how ‘bloated’ messenger is and how bad the ad placement is, write me a comment below!