thanks to windows weekly and paul thurrott for this tip – you may have noticed that the windows live essentials version of messenger runs on your taskbar with an integrated notification on windows 7 instead of over in the notification area.  well, there is a way to change that.

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windows live messenger on the taskbar (shows status – the red x indicates i’m signed out)

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right click on msnmsgr.exe and click properties.  navigate to the compatibility tab.  check the run this program in compatibility mode for and choose a previous operating system

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now windows live messenger shows up in the notification area when you don’t have a messenger im window open (doesn’t take up room on the taskbar)