Microsoft has announced that the new Windows Live Messenger beta is available broadly to the public for download at the Windows Live Ideas Web site.

The beta of Windows Live Messenger, which is the next generation of MSN Messenger includes enhancements that will supposedly make it even easier for consumers to stay in touch with the people and information that matter most to them.

Features of the new beta include VoIP calling support, continually updated contact information for all your contacts, plus the ability to store up to 600 contacts if you've got that many.

Users will also be able to use the Sharing Folders option which allows users share files them with family, friends and colleagues.

Offline instant message (IM). Customers can now send an IM to their offline contacts, who will receive the IM the next time they log in.

And finally Microsoft has implemented a video conversation feature.