Another piece of my childhood is about to die.
Microsoft are withdrawing Windows Live Messenger after 13 years of service to focus their efforts on Skype. I for one thank Microsoft for supplying one of the first widely used Social Media platforms which, in my mind, transformed how my generation saw the Internet. Before MSN, my generation thought the Internet was only for Geeks and no one really used it. When MSN came along, suddenly everyone in my year group was using it. We never used the Internet before, but we found ourselves spending more and more time on it.
I haven’t used WLM in around 5 years ever since Skype came along, but it still holds a special place in my heart.
Around 1999/2000 was when I first went online and after signing up for Hotmail, MSN Messenger was the first application I used. I remember downloading the first release. Even though it was very basic by today’s standards, I thought it was amazing! The only thing I’d used before was “HyperTerminal” which was very, very basic.
Back in the day it was just me and one mate using it from our school. We were the early adopters… Also known as “Geeks”. It was kinda nice to feel like you were the only ones using it. Over the space of a year more and more people joined, and much like Facebook a few years ago, your number of contacts mattered. I had around 80 contacts, but I knew people who had upwards of 500. It was like status symbol. The more friends you had, the more popular you were. I made websites at the time, but MSN was primarily what I used the Internet for. I’d rush to get home from School so that I could talk to my friends… from School.
I got my first girlfriend over MSN.
I lost my first girlfriend over MSN.
Around 2002, for me, MSN got a little stupid. A few of my contacts forgot that the people they were talking to on the other end were in fact real people and not a chat bot that forgot the conversation as soon as you closed it. Group conversations seemed to be getting more and more popular and I felt that they were used to gang up on people. It seemed like I had more Blocked contacts than actual contacts and I had limited my contacts to around 5 people. After daily arguments and fallings out, I just stopped using it. I didn’t miss it. At the time, there were no other widely used Social Networks and I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything. I just threw myself into my website. The same 5 people that I were friends with on MSN and chatted with regularly used the tag board on my website so we still talked to each other online anyway.
I started using it again around 2007 when I moved away from home to talk to my Brother who at the time wasn’t on Skype. I used it briefly when I started work, but WLM always had this stigma attached to it. If you were on WLM you weren’t working and were goofing around with your mates. If you were using Skype, hey that was fine. I have Skype running right now. When I started at this company, we used Skype all the time to call and message each other.
So MSN Messenger, Windows Live Messenger or whatever you want to call it, you will be missed, but I feel like you will always be around in some form.