Windows Live Messenger Presence and Messenger IM Control

The Windows Live Messenger team has just announced a new feature that allows you show your Messenger presence and receive instant messages from the web.

The Windows Live Messenger IM Control lets people on the Web reach you in Messenger by showing your Messenger status on your web site, blog, or social networking profile. The IM Control runs in the browser and lets site visitors message you without installing Messenger first and is supported in IE6, IE7, and Firefox 2.0 on Windows and Firefox 2.0 on Mac OS.

This is a nice addition to the IM button functionality announced in Ali’s post.  An important difference between the two is that the new Windows Live™ Messenger IM Control allows people to send you IMs without installing Windows Live™ Messenger, and the IM button requires that they have it installed and are logged in.

There are a few things to watch out for, however. If you choose the actual IM Control (and not just the presence icon) it really needs to be in an area no less than 300px wide in order to display correctly. For the most part, this probably won’t be an issue but it did prevent me from using it on my blog (my sidebar is set to 160px and I don’t want to make it wider).

If you choose just the presence icon, the only thing you get is the actual presence icon: or Online. This isn’t terribly useful at the moment. It would actually be nicer if the IM button styles were incorporated into the presence information. This would end up looking something like this:

or

I have the IM button on my blog setup close to this: it links to the web-based IM Control but can’t show my actual presence information. (I chose to do this instead of using the actual IM button so I don’t have to publicize my email address and force you to have Live Messenger installed.

There is always a potential for abuse with either of these features, but hopefully that won’t happen. If it does, I’ll have to remove it.