The previous (non-beta) version was Windows Live Messenger 8.1. In the new version, Messenger now works with Windows Live OneCare Family Safety to help you control who's on your child's list of contacts. It also has an updated look and feel and improved (VoIP) audio for video calls.
And according to Microsoft, here's some of the stuff they've added since MSN Messenger 7.0:
- Sharing Folders that let you collaborate with friends and share files, pictures, and videos
- The ability to send messages to contacts even when they're offline (they'll get your message the next time they log in)
- An easy view of your Windows Live Hotmail, Windows Live Messenger, and Yahoo! Messenger contacts, all in one place
- The Roaming Identity feature that lets you log in anywhere you're online and still see your display picture, personal message, and shared folders
- Redesigned Contact Cards that let you access more data about your friends
- The ability to send an SMS message to a friend's phone
Update: A reader points out that v8.5 came out in late 2007 and that Windows Live Messenger v9.0 is currently in private beta. He writes,"looks like you just got one of the security upgrade prompts to update to the latest version."
I'll have to go see if I can join the privata beta