It was the late 90s and social networks like MySpace and Facebook didn’t exist yet. Text messaging was still in its infancy as very few actually owned mobile phones at the time. Email was a popular method of communication among those with access to a computer, but it lacked the real-time feel that made face-to-face conversation so engaging.
To do this, you needed an instant messaging program, and when the massive Internet traffic really began to take root, four main competitors were competing for the position: AOL Instant Messenger, ICQ, Yahoo! Messenger and MSN Messenger from Microsoft.
Microsoft launched on July 22, 1999, which was too late given that ICQ had been around for nearly three years, followed by AOL with AIM in the spring of 1997. Even the Yahoo messaging client outperformed Microsoft by more than year, but since Microsoft has proven that you don’t have to be first to reach the top.
The key decision at the time was Microsoft’s integration with Hotmail, which leveraged the huge popularity of the company’s web-based email service to offer these millions of users instant communication.
Waging War with AOL
Version 1.0 of MSN Messaging comes with Spartan’s suite of features, including text messaging and a basic contact list. Right after its release, it caught the attention of rival company AOL as Microsoft coded the MSN Messenger Service to be able to communicate with AIM account holders. Needless to say, AOL was underwhelmed.
As former AOL engineer Eric Bosco recounts, any messaging service connected to the AIM network had to provide a version type. Microsoft’s app is labeled “MSN Messenger Version 1.0”, so Bosco and the company have configured AIM to disconnect whenever this version tries to connect to their network.
In response, Microsoft released an update in which the MSN Messenger Service identified itself as AIM. AOL blocked it again, and this constant battle reportedly continued 21 more times before AOL threatened to inject malicious code onto MSN.
Microsoft backed down and instead partnered with another major player.
Forward and upward
Over the next few years, Microsoft continued to build its messaging client, slowly but surely adding new UI elements and features such as the ability to customize chat windows and make it easier to transfer files between users. By early 2001, MSN messaging had over 29 million unique users worldwide, that’s enough to make it the most used instant messaging service in the world, according to Microsoft.
With the launch of Windows XP in 2001, Microsoft shortened the name of the program to MSN Messenger. A few years later, the Redmond tech giant achieved interoperability. agreement with Yahoo! this will allow the users of the respective instant messaging services to communicate with each other. Collectively, it has created the world’s largest instant messaging community with approximately 275 million users.
From text-to-text conversations to a whole world of interactivity, Messenger eventually got features such as emojis, webcam video calling, sending short audio clips, playing real-time games with your contacts, and the infamous “nudge” that could cause noise. sound and shake the chat window to get the attention of another user.
With the launch of Major Version 8, Microsoft renamed the application again, this time changing it to “Windows Live Messenger” to match the broader family of Windows Live software and web services.
For a while, it seemed like Microsoft couldn’t do anything wrong with their instant messaging app. But, as we all know, the most elaborate plans of mice and humans often go awry.
Beginning of the End
In the last few versions of Windows Live Messenger, Microsoft has stripped many of its core functionality, platform bugs have become apparent, and even security has been challenged over and over again.
For example, in version 9.0, the company removed several default status parameters and the possibility of adjusting the settings of the webcam during a video call is excluded. In Windows Live Messenger 2009 RC, Microsoft deprecated the customizable sign-in sound feature.
Things took a turn for the worse in 2012 when Microsoft forced Windows Vista and Windows 7 users to upgrade from an older version of the application, and soon thereafter ended support for Windows XP altogether. This was around the same time that Microsoft acquired Skype.
The emergence of social networks and mobile devices cannot be ignored either. These technologies have opened up new possibilities for people to stay connected with friends and family without using a traditional computer.
While Microsoft released mobile versions of Windows Live for several major platforms, including iOS, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone (and even added Facebook chat integration), there was a combination of factors that simply took Microsoft out of the instant messaging game. In the end, they found a Skype exit strategy, but that didn’t go so well either …
In May 2011, Microsoft confirmed that it would buy the Skype telecom app for $ 8.5 billion, and in November of next year we learned that Messenger would be built into Skype.
Thanks to the integration, Messenger users will still be able to connect with their friends via Skype, but it actually set the wheel in motion to ditch the standalone version of Windows Live Messenger. In addition, Skype enjoyed great success and was widely used, but in the hands of Microsoft, the development of the program was not in full swing.
Ironically, Microsoft started phasing out Windows Live Messenger in April 2013. China was the only exception, but the app was ultimately pulled from this market on October 31, 2014.
If Microsoft could do something over and over again, they probably wouldn’t want to miss out on Windows, which has become a major player in the mobile OS arena. Likewise, MSN Messenger could have become today’s WhatsApp or Snapchat, but a lack of attention, a loss of trust from a huge user base, and a poorly managed transition to Skype have put Messenger in a technology graveyard.
The influence of MSN Messenger continues across Skype and many modern messaging platforms, but that’s another story.
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