Facebook Messenger leaked back in December, and Facebook decided to keep the link active that was pointing to the program's download. Today, Facebook is officially releasing Messenger for Windows, promising that Mac users will get their version of the messenger application soon as well.
Facebook Messenger basically gives you an option to chat with your Facebook friends and contacts without having the Facebook.com website open at all.
Installation of the program should not be a problem, as it is silent and without settings that need to be made. The Messenger is compatible with both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows. Once installed, you can start it and enter your Facebook login details to get started.
The Messenger opens the main interface that combines Facebook's header with the news ticker and chat sidebar after log in.
Here you see the friend requests, messages and notifications on top, followed by the live ticker that updates whenever a friend likes, posts or befriends someone on Facebook. This way you see more news and contacts available for chat.
You can start a chat with a left-click on one of your contact's names. A search is provided to find a specific contact. Only five friends are displayed by default in the interface. You can use the attach to sidebar button to attach the interface to the right side of your monitor, so that it takes up all vertical screen estate there.
Facebook Messenger stores your log in information unless you sign out before you close the application. If you do not sign out, you are automatically logged in again when you start the application again at a later time. You can log out of Facebook with a click on the settings button next to search, and the selection of log out. Here you can also go offline, which may be useful to block chat messages in case they are too distracting or unwanted at that time.
You can chat with multiple friends at the same time. Each friend is displayed in a tab in the chat interface.
The biggest advantage of Facebook Messenger is that it provides access to chat and notifications in a much smaller window. If you are keeping your web browser open only to chat on Facebook, or prefer your chat window and notifications to be visible all the time, then the Messenger app might be for you.
Keep in mind though that it does not support all the features just yet. You cannot chat with groups, do video calls or edit settings other than the settings mentioned above. If that does not bother you, Facebook Messenger for Windows might be just for you.
Update: Facebook Messenger for Windows is currently only compatible with Windows 7. Facebook is however working on versions for Vista and XP.
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