The world mourns the death of MSN Messenger, as we say hello to the Facebook Chat revolution (Week 3)

Once a prominent instant messaging service, MSN Messenger was officially decommissioned by Microsoft in June 2009 (Protalinski 2009). Its most basic form was launched in 1999 and followed a series of seven updates to its interface (after 2004) and now exists as an integrated add-on to Windows Live Hotmail. The original service allowed users to communicate with a great number of other internet users and enables them to connect with friends, family and colleagues anywhere in the world (Microsoft 1999).

“Communications continues to be the cornerstone of the Internet, and instant messaging is becoming a more prevalent way for people to communicate,” said Brad Chase, vice president of the Consumer and Commerce Group at Microsoft. “We are excited to deliver our easy-to-use MSN Messenger Service to enable consumers to communicate with as many people as possible.”

The program was based around an easy-to-use policy and a small program size of 320K, and a “fast” download speed of three minutes for the average modem. Presently, in three minutes on an average modem with average internet speed one could download an entire music album, an episode of a TV show or an entire book. It also featured “comprehensive status information” which enabled users to change their status to various degrees of availability (Microsoft 1999). But one of its most prudent and respected characteristics was its privacy designs that allowed users to control who can see them online, who can communicate with them and become virtually “invisible” to other users (Microsoft 1999). People used this tool to send pictures, talk in real time with others in a marginally anonymous way and share pictures and media files over the internet. It was popular with pre-teens and teens before the uprise of texting and allowed important communication without the social awkwardness of face-to-face interactions. Like most computer based communication, it took away this face-to-face element and allowed users to feel virtually invincible (consider the notion of a “keyboard warrior”; one who faces reality through the medium of their keyboard only but would not act that way in real life).

The program influenced the way we use technology today by setting the standards for instant messaging (text and internet alike) and creating social barriers for online communication. However, its decline in popularity was not just from advancements in technology. Other social networking websites with growing popularity started to integrate instant messaging platforms into their interfaces, eventually eradicating MSN Messenger from the market. Facebook is the most prominent of these whose instant messaging design was almost mimicked by other sites such as MySpace. The main allure of Facebook’s chat element is that is convenient to use while also accessing the other features of the site simultaneously. New and exciting features are constantly being developed including sending documents and photos, message history and a simultaneous message log in the private messages section. Facebook Chat allows users to private message each other online on the site but there is also an option to download a similar Facebook Messenger programme to be used on computers, laptops and smartphones (5 most popular instant messengers 2012). Where the Wall and Inbox were the primary methods of communication on Facebook, chat allows immediacy of communication and a sense of urgency. The chat bar, which requires no installation, shows all online friends and does not require the page to be refreshed to view new messages. Chats are collapsible and notifications are displayed on the chat bar to avoid cluttering the screen (Wiseman 2008).This means that users can always be connected, part of the websites motto.

Catch you later cats and kittens,

Anneleise xx

References:

5 most popular instant messengers 2012, viewed 15 August 2012, <http://sectortechno.blogspot.com.au/2012/05/5-most-popular-instant-messengers.html&gt;

Microsoft 1999, Microsoft launches MSN messenger service, viewed 15 August 2012, <http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/press/1999/jul99/messagingpr.aspx&gt;

Protalinski,E 2009, MSN web messenger dies on June 30, 2009, viewed 15 August 2012, <http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2009/06/msn-web-messenger-dies-on-june-30-2009/>

Wiseman J 2008, Facebook chat: now we’re talking, viewed 15 August 2012, <https://blog.facebook.com/blog.php?post=12811122130&gt;

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