In March we released a beta version of Messenger for Mac 8 that supported video calls with other Windows Live users. Today, I would like to announce another major change for Messenger users: a new partner application called Communicator for Mac.
Messenger 5, 6, and 7 included support for both Windows Live users and for Office Communications Server users. With Office for Mac 2011, we are providing dedicated applications for each network.
Moving forward Windows Live users will continue to use Messenger for Mac and Office Communications Server (aka Lync) users will start using the new Communicator for Mac.
Obviously this is a big change for our team and we are very excited about the new app and its future. I expect many people will ask why we made this change, so let me add a few comments about how our team makes product decisions.
The overall job here in the MacBU is productivity. On the Messenger team, that overall mission translates into helping people communicate and collaborate to get their work done using Microsoft Office. One focus of Office for Mac 2011 was to integrate real-time communication features into Office applications like Word and PowerPoint and we expect that effort to continue.
In addition to integration with Office, we need to support our two partners, Windows Live and Office Communications Server (aka Lync). Within Microsoft these are separate organizations that move quickly to add new, useful features for their respective users.
In order to best support productivity with Office applications and the features of both partners, it was time for us to separate the applications. Separate apps will allow us to provide the best experience for both sets of users.
Messenger for Mac will continue to be a free download for Mac users that want to access their Windows Live network of contacts. The focus of our team will continue to be features that extend the productivity of Windows Live users who use Office applications. Features that fall outside of that mission, such as games or winks, are not likely to be supported.
Communicator for Mac will be available to organizations that use the Office Communications Server. These enterprises, companies and education organizations will provide Communicator for Mac to their users as part of Office 2011. (Communicator for Mac will be available to volume licensing customers only.)
We hope this post provides some insight into why we made the change and how we make decisions about features that do and do not get supported. As always we listen to and appreciate your feedback so please use the forums to let us know what you think.