Microsoft’s MSN Messenger, or Windows Live Messenger as it’s now known, will be fully retired on October 31st. The software maker originally announced its plans to shift users over to Skype last year, but Microsoft kept the service running in China. After October 31st Chinese Messenger users will need to use Skype, bringing an end to 15 years of the service.
MSN Messenger started off life in 1999 as a rival to AOL’s AIM service. Both companies battled over chat dominance, and Microsoft engineers reverse-engineered AOL’s chat protocol to allow MSN Messenger to sign into AIM, a process that AOL wasn’t happy with when Microsoft first released its instant messaging client. Over the years Microsoft added various features, including custom emoticons, the ability to play Minesweeper with friends, a nudge feature that would shake a friends chat window, and the super annoying winks option to send friends giant animated emoticons.
Microsoft has typically celebrated its MSN Messenger milestones with big green mascot outfits, but the 15-year mark and the end of the Messenger era is departing quietly. Here’s a look back at how MSN Messenger used to look, during a time when everyone put emoticons in their name or status message, and your mom picking up the phone and killing your modem connection to MSN Messenger was just as annoying as someone using the same font and color as you during a conversation. Farewell, MSN Messenger.
MSN Messenger started off life as a basic instant messenger without much bloat and just text communication
Microsoft gradually started improving Messenger with calling capabilities for Windows XP user
Video and audio calling was a big step for Messenger as Skype started to get popular (image credit: Winsupersite).
Microsoft added games like tic-tac-toe and Minesweeper to keep people always inside Messenger.
Winks were the most annoying feature of Messenger, with huge animated emoticons.
The many emoticons of MSN Messenger from back in the day (image credit: Ggftw).
Microsoft also added banner ads to Messenger, but apps like Messenger+ allowed you to remove them at the time (image credit: Taringa).
Windows Live Messenger ended with a social view option far different from its original interface (image credit: Congthinh).