Signature Sound maker: like iTunes Ringtones, but free

Say hello to an orchestra of sound snippet in your instant messenger. The Windows Live Messenger 9.0 beta was released today sporting a handful of new features as already uncovered last week by LiveSide. One feature in particular called Signature Sound is giving users the power to customize the sound their contacts hear when they come online. However as annoying that might sound (pun), what’s more interesting and actually useful is the embedded sound editor used to customize your Signature Sound and every other sound in Messenger.

Windows Live Messenger sound editor

From here, you can select any sound files in WMA, WAV or MP3 format to edit. Once you click on a valid sound file, it will take a few seconds to analyze the file and display a sound wave spectrum for you to edit.

Windows Live Messenger sound editor

The interface for this editor is similar to any mainstream sound editor applications in which it displays a selection box with a start and end point to clip a segment of an audio track. Messenger restricts all of its sounds to a maximum of 5 seconds which might seem to restrict creativity, but you’ll be thankful when your friends pop online later.

Windows Live Messenger sound editor

The user can move the left and right boundaries anywhere between the two blue arrows to define a start and end of their sound clip. To move back and forth in the timeline, you simply drag the wave left or right to move the “5-second window”. Alternatively you can also click the rewind or fast-forward buttons to step back or forth in seconds. On top of all that, it’s a nice touch to be able to perfect the clipping by adding a fade in or out. Then it’s as simple as clicking play to preview.

iTunes ringtone editor

The first thing I thought of when I saw this was how similar it is to the iTunes Ringtone editor for the iPhone. Both of which are dead simple yet unsuspectingly fun and addictive to perfect that perfect clip. Thankfully you don’t have to pay 99cents every time you sign online so it’s a lot more attractive to experiment with.

I’m sure it won’t take very long until someone figures out how to make full-length Signature Sounds which would play the entire Beethoven 9th Symphony every time you signed on. In which case you would want to tick the checkbox to disable Signature Sounds.

Update: On a side note, I understand the WLM 9.0 beta is a private beta and this post is somewhat in the gray, however I do not endorse non-beta users downloading any leaked versions as it is still relatively unstable on the backend and might even compromise the stability of the whole Messenger network.

15 insightful thoughts

  1. I too began testing Windows Live Messenger 9.0 today — but since this a beta, I’m curious about “how” Microsoft has permitted you to comment on these new features?

    I’m know I’m not allowed to reveal any of these new features.

    Blake Handler
    Microsoft MVP

  2. I think almost everyone that registered on Connect is in the Beta… Certainly everyone I know is. Is there anyone out there who registered and didn’t get in?

  3. > “Certainly everyone I know is. Is there anyone out there who registered and didn’t get in?”

    Me. :(

    I have been in previous betas, I have even submitted bugs. They even sent me a free laptop bag!

    Oh well, maybe I missed the signup link or my passport is in the “wrong” region. Which is stupid, the internet is global people… nothing more annoying than “Oh, you’re in /that/ region… Well then… no cool stuff for you.”

  4. I tested it via Microsoft Connect and I hope that they will focus on improving the basic IM experience instead of create a new multimedia über-application.

  5. @Tino: What is this IM experience you are speaking of? The IM functionality in WLM has been there since I started using it back in 6.0. And this kind of additions, believe it or not, create a better IM experience. At least for me. I must agree, however, that WLM has been getting more bloated as years have passed.

    I am an official tester, and have been since version 7.0, but I was testing the 9.0 build yesterday and realized that a new service introduced by beta was running in the background(wlcomm.exe) and check this out: it was consuming more memory than WLM itself- wlcomm.exe 60mb and msnmsgr.exe only 25mb. What does this service actually do? I found out that it “=runs in the background to keep your contacts’ information up-to-date and helps Messenger sign you in faster”

    Really, sign-in faster? I didn’t notice any different at all. And if a messenger needs a new service that uses more resources than the app itself to keep updated info about my contacts, it’s just not worth the upgrade. At least not yet.

  6. I don’t know if Microsoft plans to update the interface with Live Messenger 9, but if they’re going to keep the tabs, they really need to update how it works. I always hide the tabs because they’re incredibly ugly and I wouldn’t use most of the ones on there. But I would use the Alerts otherwise. And it seems that people should be able to make custom tabs just like Sidebar items. Instead what you have is a preset list of tabs , where you can’t only show some and not others, you can’t add custom tabs, and it looks really ugly. So I just turn it off.

  7. Anyway, the most requiered feature for me – WPF-based UI. I finally dont understand Microsoft conception to provide so powerful API and not use them at all.

  8. @William: The behavior of the contacts list window could be better (maybe with an integration into Vista’s Sidebar), magnetic corners to dock the window on the side and such things… And what about tabbed chat windows? Clickable email links in conversations? There is a lot they could improve. And the whole app could be using WPF.

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