We Bid Farewell to Windows Live Messenger
If you haven’t heard, another late 90’s web staple is being led to pasture in favor of a prettier, more popular contemporary. Windows Live Messenger, also known through its 13 years as WLM, MSN Messenger Service, MSN Messenger or just MSN, is being shut down in 2013 according to Microsoft. Its successor Skype has always been the heir apparent, and now the new year will see this come to fruition.
I was 16 and an avid AIM user when MSN Messenger Service debuted in July 1999. It was thrilling to see an IM client debut that could connect with AIM users. Even more thrilling was seeing AOL pull rank and block the Butterfly from “intruding” on its turf. Microsoft would respond daily with software patches to bypass the newest block, and the fight would continue for a bit before MSN resigned to remove AIM support altogether.
It wasn't until years later Microsoft would build bridges elsewhere. In 2006, Yahoo and Microsoft got a proper interoperability relationship going for their respective IM networks. In 2010, Facebook messaging connectivity was introduced, but even then the popularity of traditional IM had already waned dramatically. Instant messaging was replaced by the advent of text messaging and more recently a noun-turned-verb in our collective pop culture lexicon: Facebook.
“Facebook me.” — everyone
Pretty much everyone has a Facebook, and countless messages (the “new” IM) are exchanged via browsers and phones, the latter where Windows Live, Yahoo and early cult favorite ICQ didn't fare well. Don’t forget Direct Messages from Twitter and other mobile notables like WhatsApp and Kik; they too are the new IM. The writing always seemed to be on the wall, confirmed largely in 2011 when Microsoft bought Skype.
Messaging in Skype is free, exists on desktop and mobile and its user base is huge. Really huge. Plus, its core function video chat and VOIP calling features were more compelling reasons to dump Messenger for something we always knew would someday take the helm. So with that, we bid farewell to Windows Live Messenger and another piece of our upbringing in old school interwebz.
If it’s any consolation for WLM loyalists, the IM network will not be completely shuttered. Users in China will continue to access the service while the rest of the world ascends into the friendly Skypes.