Mac Messenger still trying to find its voice

Latest version of Microsoft's instant-messaging program for Macs enables corporate users to exchange video and audio messages, but consumers will have to wait awhile.

Updated at 10:35 a.m. to note that the product has been released.

Microsoft released the latest version of its instant-messaging program for the Mac on Tuesday, though it still continues to trail its Windows counterpart when it comes to features.

The biggest change in Messenger 7 for Mac is the ability for corporate users running Office Communications Server to engage in video and audio chats with one another. For non-corporate users, the biggest changes are the ability to give nicknames to contacts and search within one's list of contacts.

Microsoft declined to offer any update on when video chat for consumers would arrive.

"We provided a look at our roadmap late last year and we remain on track--delivering A/V support to our corporate users and continuing to work with the Windows Live team to make A/V support available for (consumers)," senior marketing manager Amanda Lefebvre said in a statement.

Video chat has been available for some time on the Windows side and is a staple of Apple's iChat instant-messaging program, which is compatible with AOL's instant-messaging program, but not buddy lists from Yahoo or MSN/Windows Live.

I couldn't find a live link to Messenger 7 on Microsoft's Mac site on Tuesday, but I'll update the blog with a link when it goes live.

Update: It's now available from Microsoft's Mac downloads page and from CNET Download.com.

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