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Microsoft brings audio, video to its Mac IM

Company issues beta of Messenger for Mac 8, which--at long last--allows Mac users to exchange video and audio messages over Windows Live Messenger.

Aiming to bring its Mac instant messaging software closer to par with Windows, Microsoft on Wednesday offered a beta version of Messenger for Mac 8.

The test software brings, at long last, audio and video conferencing features to the Mac. A final version of the product is due out with the release of Office for Mac later this year.

Messenger for Mac 8, now in beta, adds the long awaited ability to do voice and video chat. Microsoft

Microsoft has said since 2008 that it was working to bring those capabilities--long a part of Windows Live Messenger--to the Mac. The company had originally hoped to have a beta version with audio/video capabilities by last year.

The last major update to the Mac IM product, Messenger for Mac 7, was released in 2008.

Those who want to try the beta of Messenger for Mac 8, with its audio and video conferencing abilities, can download it from Microsoft's Mac Web site. However, Microsoft lists a couple of known issues with the product including an inability to display profile pictures and problems sending files from one user to another.