Windows Live Messenger speeds out of beta

The first Windows Live product to leave beta status globally will be released tonight by Microsoft. Windows Live Messenger spent just six weeks in public beta. We reviewed most of the features available now when the beta launched.

Most notable are the inclusion of voice calls through the interface and dedicated hardware, offline messaging and an easy system for file sharing.

After years of ridicule by people awaiting the release of Vista and Microsoft’s general reputation for painfully slow development, the release from beta status of Live Messenger may be the first sign of a serious shift in operations in this new, post-Gates era. When it was announced on Thursday that Gates would be giving up his position as Chief Technology Architect to former CTO Ray Ozzie, Live was discussed as the major direction for the company in the future.

The company says that more than 20 new Windows Live services will launch globally over the next year.