Trivia Tuesday: Facts about Windows Live Messenger

It's Trivia Tuesday time again, and today we're looking at Microsoft's extremely popular Windows Live Messenger service that has been one of the most successful services that carries the Windows Live branding. It will be an integral part of Windows 8 as well, with the Messaging app being Microsoft's embedded application that allows instant messaging using the Live Messenger service.

Just how much do you know about Windows Live Messenger though? We've looked around the place to provide you with some statistics and facts about the service.

MSN Messenger was the original name used for the service, and the first client was launched on July 22, 1999. According to Microsoft, it was integrated well with Internet Explorer 5 and Outlook Express 5.

320 kB was the original file size of the client according to Microsoft's launch press release. Nowadays the application consumes around 25 MB, with the application to download WLM consuming more space than the original client.

Windows Live Messenger branding was incorporated in December of 2005, ditching the MSN (originally Microsoft Network) name after six years. Despite Microsoft having ditched the MSN branding for the majority of its products, msn.com is still the 16th most visited website according to Alexa.

The current version of Windows Live Messenger (2011)

No ads were present in MSN Messenger 1.0, although this was the only version not to include some form of advertising as Microsoft introduced rotating ad banners in MSN Messenger 2.0 in late 1999. Current versions of the WLM application contain a lot of ads, most of which can be removed by 3rd party patching applications such as A-Patch.

2.8 billion minutes of Facebook chat occurred through Windows Live Messenger just six months after Facebook chat was included in WLM. This number could be close to 10 billion currently if similar usage patterns occurred 

9 billion messages were sent per day across 1.5 billion conversations in early 2010, and this was before the inclusion of Facebook chat in the client. 

40.67% was Windows Live Messenger's marketshare according to a mid-2011 report, making it the most used IM service worldwide. Skype came in second with 27.39%, meaning technically Microsoft-owned services occupy 68% of the market, although note that web-based services such as Facebook Chat are not counted in these statistics.

The future of Windows Live Messenger: the Messaging app in Windows 8

300 million people use Windows Live Messenger according to statistics Microsoft released in 2010. This number is almost certainly higher currently, and with the native inclusion of Messenger in Windows 8, this number is only going to grow.

$4.47 billion was the revenue of the Windows and Windows Live devision for Microsoft's fiscal Q2 2012. While most of this will be from sales of Windows, you have to wonder how much revenue Windows Live Messenger brings to the company?

Read all the past Trivia Tuesdays

Images courtesy of the Inside Windows Live blog

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46 Comments

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xpclient said,
You forgot to mention an important fact: WLM 2011 made many annoying UI changes and removed many features.

The UI changes can all be flipped off with one click.

Also what features were removed?

There is also a lot of new features, like the picture and video sharing features, and more importantly the Live integration features, that allow you to link to Live Services from LinkedIn and Facebook to even MySpace, YouTube, and Hulu. (There are 50 services that work from Live and also integrate with Messenger through Live.com)

Microsoft throws outs a massive amount of functionality and revolutionary integration and aggregation of services and features, and still people don't seem to notice them.

Been using messenger since 2002. I was on the original Windows Live Messenger beta in 2005, with all its folder-share goodness. Still use messenger, but no one seems to use it anymore lucky it hooks in to FB chat.

I think this article should also comment about Messenger Plus!..........


...........and how it is gone down the drain

BumbleBritches57 said,
This article is clearly sponsored by Microsoft, the question is, should I stop visiting Neowin for compromising their integrity?

Your foil hat looks fabulous by the way.

BumbleBritches57 said,
This article is clearly sponsored by Microsoft, the question is, should I stop visiting Neowin for compromising their integrity?

Um, you do know who pays the bills at Neowin, right? It isn't Microsoft.

Secondly, you do realize the name of this site is Neo'Win' - right? It was started as a Microsoft/Windows enthusiasts site, hence the name.

Wow, dense.

I love these posts, but I am surprised the author did not underscore the infamous MSN vs AOL battle when v1.0 launched. Remember the seemingly daily Messenger updates MS would send out after AOL would block MSNMs' ability to connect to AIM so MSNers couldn't IM with AOL/AIMers? Works, doesn't work, works, doesn't work...and so on. Ahhh good times!

As for WLM, I am betting it will fold into Windows 8 into the Messages hub. It is so muddled now and a stark reminder of the interwebs of yesterday when IM ruled and when social wasn't around.

Edited by seebaran, Mar 27 2012, 2:07pm :

Great article. I rarely use it nowadays because of Facebook, Twitter, Skype and other methods of contacting my friends (like calling or sending them a text). The first version of MSN Messenger I used was 5.0. I learned about it from some friends at school because back then, instant messaging was the new thing with my peers.

been a user since day 1 and for info, the article isnt quite as accurate as it should be, there used to be 2 branches of "messenger" Windows Messenger (no ads/branding) that came with Windows operating systems (W2kpro, XP & server 2003), and MSN messenger which had branding and advertisements (which was a downloadable addon). Windows messenger was phazed out around late 2008 (IIRC) when Windows live messenger arrived.

Windows Messenger 4.x

Version 4.0 (Initial release, bundled with Windows XP)
Immediately upon the release of Windows XP, Windows Messenger was upgraded to version 4.5.
Version 4.5 (October 2001)
Version 4.6
Version 4.7

Windows Messenger 5.x

Version 5.0
Version 5.1.0639 (release date: December 1, 2004)
Version 5.1.0639 (re-release date: March 24, 2005)
Version 5.1.0680 (release date: May 13, 2005)
Version 5.1.0700 (release date: September 16, 2005)
Version 5.1.0706 (release date: June 4, 2007)
Version 5.1.0715 (release date: August 12, 2008)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_Messenger

More precisely, Windows Messenger doesn't come with W2K and 2K3SRV, it must be manually downloaded. MSN Messenger came pre-installed on WinME.

Windows Messenger was phased out soon after MSN handed ownership over to the Windows team in 2002, for which the Windows team shipped v5.0 (known internally as v4.8), and v5.1 (which was primarily just improvements of existing features for tablets, etc). After that, resources were pulled...all releases since v5.1 were for security fixes only. The "arrival" of WLM in 2006 had nothing to do with phasing out Windows Messenger, since it had long belonged to a different division and had already been killed years earlier.

Mando said,
been a user since day 1 and for info, the article isnt quite as accurate as it should be, there used to be 2 branches of "messenger" Windows Messenger (no ads/branding) that came with Windows operating systems (W2kpro, XP & server 2003), and MSN messenger which had branding and advertisements (which was a downloadable addon). Windows messenger was phazed out around late 2008 (IIRC) when Windows live messenger arrived.

Windows Messenger 4.x

Version 4.0 (Initial release, bundled with Windows XP)
Immediately upon the release of Windows XP, Windows Messenger was upgraded to version 4.5.
Version 4.5 (October 2001)
Version 4.6
Version 4.7

Windows Messenger 5.x

Version 5.0
Version 5.1.0639 (release date: December 1, 2004)
Version 5.1.0639 (re-release date: March 24, 2005)
Version 5.1.0680 (release date: May 13, 2005)
Version 5.1.0700 (release date: September 16, 2005)
Version 5.1.0706 (release date: June 4, 2007)
Version 5.1.0715 (release date: August 12, 2008)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_Messenger

Additional things that are missing in this lineage that contributed to Messenger and also added features and shared code with Messenger...

WinChat
LAN based chatting software. Very popular in office and corporate environments.

Microsoft Comic Chat
A IRC chat client that used comic strip settings for conversations. (Still works for IRC fans, and still available last time I checked.)

MSN Online Chat
MSN was originally online community service that competed with Compuserve/Prodigy/AOL providing groups, file sharing, and was directly integrated into the Explorer folder structure of Windows95.

NetMeeting
Voice chat and sharing that was included in Win95 SR2, and was the precursor to the audio calling functionality of Windows Messenger.

ThreeDegrees
A P2P client that used IPV6 and introduced Winks and other features that were rolled into Messenger.

The 'corporate' variations of Messenger that co-exist and often overlapped code like Office Live Communicator, Lync, that used internal corporate servers instead of the Microsoft .NET Messaging Servers.

All the Mobile versions of Messenger that appeared on WinCE/PocketPC/Windows Mobile

And the SMS/WAP/Web versions of messenger than existed and still exist. On non smart-phones, you could use Messenger via WAP or SMS and even an Toll Free number to send Messenger messages.

*Messenger STILL supports SMS messaging even from the desktop client if the contact has a cell phone registered to their Live account. Which is the universal 'messaging' concept that WP7 uses as well that automatically just sends messages to contacts based on their Online status of Messenger, Facebook, SMS, etc.

Ah 1999 memories...think anyone who had internet back then was on ICQ then messenger, was awesome at the time - maybe it still is but I havent logged on in a long time, id like to get back into it with the integration for WP but think most people just use FB chat now etc anyway.

this was like memory lane not trivia but a good read anyway, I also like the Metro app for chat too

I used to use it every day, however over the past year I've stopped using it almost altogether. I think I logged in like 2/3 times over that time only for 5-10 minutes apiece since I find it mundane.

I have a car now, I just drive to see my friends or text/call them more since I got a contract phone.

I stopped using it about a year ago. I got annoyed with the constant spam friend invites - I now only use Skype and Steam as a form of messenger

Shaun said,
I stopped using it about a year ago. I got annoyed with the constant spam friend invites - I now only use Skype and Steam as a form of messenger

I've gotten those on every messaging service I've used. WLM has an option to disable receiving them from people that are not on your list.

GreyWolf said,

I've gotten those on every messaging service I've used. WLM has an option to disable receiving them from people that are not on your list.

Yeah, the big offender for me has always been AIM... I get crap on there ALL THE TIME...

GreyWolf said,

I've gotten those on every messaging service I've used. WLM has an option to disable receiving them from people that are not on your list.

Yeah, the big offender for me has always been AIM... I get crap on there ALL THE TIME...

M_Lyons10 said,

Yeah, the big offender for me has always been AIM... I get crap on there ALL THE TIME...


ICQ is worse...
It's so BAD on there.
Seems it got better recently though.

GS:mac

Glassed Silver said,

ICQ is worse...
It's so BAD on there.
Seems it got better recently though.

GS:mac


You havent gone to Yahoo! recently have you.........

htcz said,

You havent gone to Yahoo! recently have you.........

Yes I have.

YIM, ICQ, AIM, WLM, Skype, GTalk, Facebook, MyJournal, MySpace and Jabber are connected in Adium always.

The biggest spam attraction is a public Twitter account. GEEEEEZ! So many bots... Yuck!

GS:mac

Shaun said,
I stopped using it about a year ago. I got annoyed with the constant spam friend invites - I now only use Skype and Steam as a form of messenger

Really, it was easier to quit using it, and move to something else, instead of hitting settings, and telling it to 'not allow unknown invites'?
***(Can't remember the exact setting name, but it is basically No invites and there is also Friend invites and Friends of Friends. You know, normal privacy setting features that have been on Live before they were on Facebook even.

This is one thing Skype has been having to 'beef up' is the privacy and security since Microsoft bought them, as their system was far more susceptible than WLM.

Which is why it is weird that last year, you found Skype 'better' than WLM in this area.

Unfortunately, Facebook integration has been suffering a lot lately. For quite some time now, whenever I'm on WLM with Facebook chat activated, people don't see me on Facebook. As soon as I log out, they do. And quite some times they don't get my messages either. Used to work, not so good anymore.

since facebook almost all people in my list are offline in MSN, it's dead. a few month ago I closed my live account.

thekim said,
since facebook almost all people in my list are offline in MSN, it's dead. a few month ago I closed my live account.

Same. Nobody is online lol

thekim said,
since facebook almost all people in my list are offline in MSN, it's dead. a few month ago I closed my live account.

That's weird, I have 16 online people in WLM, it usually goes 30 though.

thekim said,
since facebook almost all people in my list are offline in MSN, it's dead. a few month ago I closed my live account.

Weird... Most of the people I also talk to on Facebook, still use WLM, as they prefer using it to the 'Facebook' web page for chatting. So they appear online on Facebook and WL Messenger.

With chatting on Facebook, people often click away from the facebook page, and go 'offline'. However if they are using WLM for their facebook chat client, they can stay online and not need to keep a facebook page open all the time to keep in contact with friends.

Strange you would close your Live account though, since it is used for a lot more than just messaging... (With WP7,XBox, and Windows 8 coming up, you might want to have one, as the integration is brilliant.)

manosdoc said,
Windows Live messenger is integrated also in XBOX and Windows Phones.

Hm... I have an XBox and didn't realize it was integrated there. I'll have to check that out (Though typing with the controller would really suck. lol).

M_Lyons10 said,

Hm... I have an XBox and didn't realize it was integrated there. I'll have to check that out (Though typing with the controller would really suck. lol).

You can use a keyboard, or Microsoft's chatpad which connects to your controller.

M_Lyons10 said,

Hm... I have an XBox and didn't realize it was integrated there. I'll have to check that out (Though typing with the controller would really suck. lol).

You can also do voice/video if you don't want to type.

(The XBox Live kits often have the keyboard/chatpad in them with an additional headset if you look for them, which makes the keyboard less expensive since it also includes subscription time.)

I hope they improve Messaging and make it a high performing C++ application instead of a JavaScript crap.

Also, it needs more things, I am not using it on a damn 320*280 res phone.

kavazovangel said,
I hope they improve Messaging and make it a high performing C++ application instead of a JavaScript crap.

Also, it needs more things, I am not using it on a damn 320*280 res phone.

Context?
Are you talking about the Messaging App in Windows 8? If so, snap it to the side. It also is FAR from the shipping version, as it doesn't even have the WP7 messaging functionality, let alone what the full Windows 8 App will have.

As for Javascript, again context would help. However, you should note that with the design of IE9 which is the precursor to the how the WinRT framework is designed - Microsoft has been able to get near native code performance out this highly structured and managed framework. (Which like .NET can at times even be 'faster' than traditional C++ code, due to common mistakes C++ developers get into when deal with objects after working too long in procedural programming, that sadly Linux has fueled.)

As a example there are .NET based C# comparisons that show its inherent object nature that is beyond C++ can often perform faster than C++ and the contextual differences when running on an Object based OS model/platform. (Which both Windows NT and the .NET framework are.)

Another example, there are IE9 examples of HTML5 rich applications that are within 5% of native C++ coded DirectX performance.

So javascript using the Microsoft frameworks are not going to be a performance problem, and besides, with Metro, there is no reason to even use Javascript, as other languages work just as well.

IE9's restructuring and changing web sites from the paradigm of 'HTML document display' to 'HTML compile and run', was able to achieve far better performance than once though possible, which is why Microsoft fully took on embracing HTML5 to be something that could replace portions of the MVC programming needs that WPF and Silverlight were designed to provide.

So blame the IE9 team for changing how browser treat 'content' and 'run it' instead of 'display it', which is why Google and Mozilla are still struggling to hit some of the harder performance numbers IE9 can achieve on complex and graphical HTML5/CSS3 content.

I use it all the time, to talk to Facebook, because it's way better than the HTML based version on the page. Plus it connects me with friends on Yahoo network + possible interconnection with Skype Friends who have connected Skype with FB.

Best IM there is out there. Skype is best in videocall.

manosdoc said,
I use it all the time, to talk to Facebook, because it's way better than the HTML based version on the page. Plus it connects me with friends on Yahoo network + possible interconnection with Skype Friends who have connected Skype with FB.

Best IM there is out there. Skype is best in videocall.


not really true, WLM has much better video call quality than Skype currently. maybe it depends on camera type, but when using Microsoft HD webcam (either budget one or Studio) Skype tends to randomly lower image and sound quality, sometimes getting back with decent quality, but with some audio offset issues for example. none of this happened on WLM.

manosdoc said,
I use it all the time, to talk to Facebook, because it's way better than the HTML based version on the page. Plus it connects me with friends on Yahoo network + possible interconnection with Skype Friends who have connected Skype with FB.

Best IM there is out there. Skype is best in videocall.

It is funny that people think Skype is the better audio/video technology and why Microsoft bought them. The purchase was about licensing, Skype telco deals, and the ability for Microsoft to provide direct support to older Skype client technologies from newer devices by gaining access to the Skype codecs.

Skype codecs are mixed, and being peer to peer, communicating with older Skype devices need the existing mix of codecs to continue to work seamlessly.

As Google bought up VP8, which is mixed into the Skype technologies, this would have created a problem for Microsoft if Google mangles the codec to add tracking or created restrictive use of the technology.

So Skype keeps Google from locking Microsoft out of supporting Skype integration, which they could have just added to Windows Messenger.

As for the actual codecs, older Skype clients can't change, so they will continue to use the existing Skype technologies.

On newer clients, look for Microsoft's codecs to be offered or default when possible for higher quality audio and video.

When it comes to doing higher audio quality and HD video, the Microsoft technologies have more flexibility and features that allow it to adapt to the bitrates faster and more seamlessly. The Microsoft codecs also offer faster conversion for lower latency and are less processor intensive.

Windows Messenger was doing higher quality audio and HD video before Skype, and even the current implementation of Skype can't hit the 'high' end nor deal with problematic connections as well as the Microsoft technologies.

A good example that is also 98% accurate: Skype is like Flash based audio/video, where Microsoft and Messenger are like Silverlight audio/video. This is why Netflix uses Microsoft technologies, as it is a higher quality experience and far more flexible with adaptive rates aka Smooth Streaming.
*Netflix uses a variation of the Microsoft Smooth Streaming adaptive technology, as they do not have to work with 'live' broadcasts, so their variation can be more flexible in latency that 'live' communications do not allow.

The whole reason the Microsoft HD WebCam product line exists was because of a lack of HD web cams and HD web cam integration in laptops, as the industry had stagnated at 1.3mp cameras. And this was a problem with Windows Messenger supporting HD quality audio/video with very little HD WebCam hardware in the consumer market to support it.
**(So this inspired Logitech and others to move up to HD web cams, and as it becomes more 'standard' in built-in cameras on laptops, the Microsoft HD WebCam product line will disappear, letting other MFRs take over the space if they want. Just like the Windows Sound System in the early 90s, as Microsoft couldn't get Creative and others to offer inexpensive CD Quality sound cards, so they created their own and standard driver model along with it.)

One more note on quality...
Both Skype and WLM are really good at what they do, so it isn't like WLM is 10x better, which is a testament to the team at Skype as they had less access to codec and streaming technologies than the WLM team that was able to take WMV/VC1 technologies from the Zune/Windows Media group.

____________________
Another interesting fun thing to test out...

Call a friend on your Cell Phone and/or your land line, and then also do a call using either Skype or WLM. And carry on a conversation..

Notice the delay differences, as it is usually surprises people.

Skype will be in parity with the Cell Phone and often a bit faster. WLM will almost always be 1/2 second faster (less delay) than the Cell phone and often the land line.

This says something about both technologies dumping packets over the internet and still doing a better job than your phone company.

If you have a friend 6000km away, do the same test, and notice the delay difference become more evident, with the traditional phone having more delay. (And if you get telco connection that is still bouncing off a satellite, the delay becomes crazy different, which is when you find people preferring Skype or WLM to a regular phone call when they hear the difference.)