Despite it apparently having been public knowledge for some months now I only came to find out today that MSN Messenger (which became Windows Live Messenger) is being discontinued today. If I had been more aware from the first announcement last November I may have had enough time to mentally prepare for this, but right now I am in a bit of shock from the sudden nature of the news. I became aware of it when I saw this image posted on facebook from Ruslan Kogan:
I was originally just going to post an “RIP MSN” status on facebook but given what a central aspect it was of my teenage years I think it deserves a proper obituary.
I first started using MSN around 2001 to communicate with a friend of mine, Ali, and I was so in awe of the technology the first time I used it I ended up staying up into the early hours of the morning exploring its features, like the games it used to have, and the different emoticons. As time went on I added more friends from school and occasionally used it as a means to setting up games of Age of Empires II or in some cases Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds.
Later on when I was in MHS I lost many nights in high school playing minesweeper and also being engaged in semi-heated conversations with my peers about the issues of the day, none of which I can remember at this point. When MSN added the handwrite feature it became a useful tool for getting and giving out help in maths. MSN was also the first platform I used to spread my blog by pasting the URL into the by-line of the status (can’t remember what it was called).
So given all these fond memories how did I come to abandon it? There were a number of factors in play.
The first thing was probably my adoption of Gmail some time in late 2005. I liked the interface better than what hotmail had to offer, and it had significantly less spam. However I still continued to use MSN as my main IM client since it was more fully featured than google talk.
The next two things sort of happened simultaneously to me. The first was adopting Ubuntu in 2007. Microsoft hadn’t put out a client for linux so I was left using third party clients like Pidgin, and while it did a good job handling the basics it couldn’t handle things like nudges and drawings, the latter of which was important as I was in an engineering course.
The other thing that happened was the rise of Facebook. At that point facebook’s message system was more akin to email than IM, but by around 2008 people seemed to be using it as the primary means to contact each other and when they introduced Facebook chat that year is was pretty much a hard blow on MSN, if not the death-blow itself.
Personally I was still using MSN well into 2010, and when meeting new people I would still exchange usernames. But somehow I dropped this habit towards the end of that year and facebook became my primary means of social networking.
Another factor that made facebook more attractive than MSN was the fact that conctacts’ MSN accounts were becoming infested with bots posing. I last logged into it sometime last year and it was quite sad being greeted by handles that belonged to my friends, but which were using obvious bot-speak and attempting to make me visit suspicious websites. It allowed me to more strongly relate to the living characters in zombie movies who see their friends’ bodies being replaced by mindless entities. Mindless entities which can no longer engage me in a game of minesweeper or tic-tac-toe, and which can no longer appreciate my witty status updates.
From the archives, here is a post I made when MSN first introduced the “Appear offline” feature