Windows Live Messenger celebrates 10 years, hits 330m users

On July 22, 1999 Microsoft launched what would become the world's most popular instant messenging service, currently with over 330 million active users every month. Previously named MSN Messenger, it was released to work on the Windows operating system platform for users to instantly chat over the Internet using Microsoft's .NET Messenger Service.

Microsoft later re-branded MSN Messenger into Windows Live Messenger to merge it with its other Live services back in December 13, 2005. Windows Live Messenger (WLM) has gone through significant protocol changes and face lifts over its many versions in the last 10 years, ending up at Windows Live Messenger 2009 (designated to be called 9.0). Even though it was officially rebranded Windows Live Messenger in 2005, it's still referred to as just "MSN" by most people.

Windows Live Messenger has seen communities rise up with customization solutions from web sites like Messenger Plus! Live, Mess.be, msgstuff.com (from Neowin's very own Sean Bradford) and many more. The Messenger team has made significant improvements over Windows Live Messenger in the past years adding in web cam support, customizable backgrounds, emoticons, animated display pictures, file sharing and much more.

As a small celebration, the Windows Live Messenger Team is asking users to submit their personal stories to them using Windows Live Messenger. The deadline to share your story is June 28, where they will pick the best stories and share them on the Messenger Blog in July.

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It will always be MSN to me, but I guess its like calling Nissan a Datsun... I have tried many other clients for MSN and to be honest, if your using windows, wlm9, msgplus for tabs (why no tabs wlm?) turn off the spam tabs and a quick patch of the ads (sorry wlm) and it becomes a very neat IM program. It actually uses quite a small amount of memory compared with other clients out there. pidgin for example was using the same if not more the last time I tried it. And when other clients are missing features like custom emoticons or personal messages I get annoyed. How will I custom at people.

dumped msn for skype, skype superior in everyway, too bad they didn't have email.... email coming soon though maybe with the sale?

also it seems skype is more of a eastern hemisphere thing and msn is a western one

Official client went to **** after 8.0 I think, basically when Vista came out. Fair enough if you like it, but it has got an undeniably large amount of wasted screen space.

partially agree. 2009 version is confusing, because it has both huge advantages and disadvantages. scenes, "what's new", photo sharing etc is all cool, but it's all ruined with stupid and useless background pictures implementation (in conversation window), lots of wasted space and all these stupid bugs caused by messenger relying on lots of other components (one of them not installed correctly on stopped working - messenger won't work), when you can't even reinstall messenger in usual way.

It will always be 'MSN' :D

I always have it open but only talk to a couple of people on it now tbh. Most people just seem to use Facebook... I wonder if they will birng out their own messenger which runs independant of the website.

MSN forever.
I have not once heard anyone outside geeky tech forums call it anything except MSN. The sooner the pedantic tech nerds get over it the better. MSN is somewhat of a genericized trademark (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brandnomer)
So MSN forever!

I started using MSN Messenger from version 5, have used every version after that, 6, 7 all the way to the current version, WLM 9.0. Mostly because I help run msgstuff.com, so I need to know how its going :).

Over here in this area - or maybe country for that matter - you'd be hard pressed to find anyone on a competing IM platform. Everyone uses MSN/Windows Live Messenger, whether you have a Hotmail/Live domain or associate another email provider with a Windows Live ID.

I started using this client back in March 2002, shortly after getting my Hotmail address (the same address I use to this very day). Those were the days when people used to lockup other people's clients by spamming emoticons over and over... the client would take forever to parse all the : D and change them to :D.

"On July 22, 1999 Microsoft launched what would become the world's most popular instant messenging service, currently with over 330 active users every month"

Give me an M!

Back then, it was just a basic IM which I liked. Having come from ICQ which had too many features when all I wanted is chat. MSN/Live Messenger has gone the same way which is now why I have moved to Google Chat. Once again its just a plain IM. More isn't always better.

WLM is amazing. Before I married my wife, we've had a "distant relationship" for a year, solely using the WLM for video and chat. It was back in 2002-2003, still unmatched today for ease of use.

I used to use it but stopped. My sister decided to stop using it too for fear of transmitted malcious software. I have to agree with her for her sakes. Saves me trips to her computer. I know it has gotten much better but still not better yet. And it's another installation to do on Windows. So I just load FaceBook which she is on too and use the built in chat.

Cloud-computing FTW!

Oh, and I wish people would stop calling it "MSN"!!!

It's been years since Microsoft has transitioned Messenger into the Windows Live brand, and using the term "MSN" seems rather old school, and is pretty irrelevant considering MSN is just a place for published content now.

Instead, people should just try 'WLM', a shorter and more appropriate form, though it doesn't roll off the tongue as easy as MSN.

Quikboy said,
Instead, people should just try 'WLM', a shorter and more appropriate form, though it doesn't roll off the tongue as easy as MSN.

Not in Sweden, no. Compare "em ess en" to "dubbleveh ell em".

I completely agree, Quikboy. Windows Live Messenger doesn't even have much or anything to do with MSN now. They are just owned, produced and operated by the same company.


JHH said,
Not in Sweden, no. Compare "em ess en" to "dubbleveh ell em".

Yes, but whether it's easier to say, or not, is irrelevant, in my opinion.

Why call it "MSN" when it isn't and has just about nothing to do with MSN?

I say Live Messenger, and if the person I said it to looks like a question mark, I say MSN and they get what I mean.

However, next time they understand when I say Live Messenger.

lethaldave said,
Take a look in task manager and see what your "WLM" process is called. :)

This is for backwards compatibility but Id think it would be easy to say.

And +1 to not calling it MSN. It is not MSN.

epilepsynweed said,
This is for backwards compatibility but Id think it would be easy to say.

And +1 to not calling it MSN. It is not MSN.



If anything, people calling it MSN instead of WLM should send a clear message to MS: their Windows Live brand sucks. No one cares to spell out or even pronounce "Windows Live Messenger". It's awkward and geeky. MSN finally established itself as an easy to say and easy to spell brand and what does Microsoft do? They change it!

Almost no one calls Disney Hollywood Studios by its name. Why? MGM is easier to say, spell, and it's familiar. Brands are tricky and brand loyalty is even trickier to retain -- it would have been wise to leave Messenger under the MSN umbrella. Hell, everything should have stayed under MSN but that's another discussion...

epilepsynweed said,
This is for backwards compatibility but Id think it would be easy to say.

And +1 to not calling it MSN. It is not MSN.



If anything, people calling it MSN instead of WLM should send a clear message to MS: their Windows Live brand sucks. No one cares to spell out or even pronounce "Windows Live Messenger". It's awkward and geeky. MSN finally established itself as an easy to say and easy to spell brand and what does Microsoft do? They change it!

Almost no one calls Disney Hollywood Studios by its name. Why? MGM is easier to say, spell, and it's familiar. Brands are tricky and brand loyalty is even trickier to retain -- it would have been wise to leave Messenger under the MSN umbrella. Hell, everything should have stayed under MSN but that's another discussion...

I use it, and I love it! I have a lot of friends from around the country and all over the world who I use it to communicate with.

Unfortunately, a lot of my friends use AIM and it's hard to convince them to use a different IM service. I hardly use AIM at all, because it's such rubbish and very annoying at times. Yahoo! Messenger client is also kinda weak, or at least not as good as Windows Live.

At least compared to the other leading officially support IM clients, Windows Live is top notch the best. I hope the team will continue to add even more users and convince people to use it.

It is a rather sad state of IM, WLM is only gaining so much user because its competition is doing poorly. Not because it is doing any thing special at all.

It is getting slower, and bloated over the years.

And, it is locked into MS platform.

In what way is it locked...? Plenty of alternate messenger programs can access the WLM network, which not only means you aren't restricted to MS's client, you also aren't restricted to Windows.

I'm...I'm just a little confused. It's like you said water can only be poured into cups.

@iwod : You don't seem to be making any sense. You said that:

"WLM is only gaining so much user because its competition is doing poorly"

Wouldn't that mean Microsoft is doing something right? If Microsoft is doing something right, and the competition isn't, then how does that connect to "Not because it is doing any thing special at all."? It doesn't seem you can have one without the other...

I find it relatively fast, and I don't really see any useless bloat. I guess we all have our likes and dislikes, but considering the absurd '$' you're using, it's more like you dislike WLM because it's from Microsoft.

I would rather have one company providing free and quality IM services. I don't think many of us would want to have segmented IM networks. If we had that, it's going to be a headache contacting friends across other IM networks.

Totally agree with you, I never even use it anymore. It really annoys me when you install it and puts a shortcut to live.com on your start menu (a site I never use because it's so bad), tries to force all these shortcuts on you... In other words, it's popular because it forces itself onto the idiots' PCs who install it (when I say idiots - the people who forward all these chain mails about hotmail shutting down, install all these custom cusors, spyware thinking wow, that looks great!!)

330 users a month, wow.

Seriously though, I know only one person on my email contacts list that uses this. Too bad, because it's microsoft and it is polished.

Been using it since day one back in 1999 it doesn't seem all that long ago tbh but haven't regretted it one bit. Use it for business and social purposes has everything from quality to features needed.

i used MSN forever and WLM for awhile, back when they started the beta for it with that funky orange very gay UI lol, all the way up til 8.5? its by far the best client out there... if they supported gtalk, icq, yahoo etc (multi-protocol) i'm fairly sure the the entire world would be using it though MS would be sued into oblivion

just recently installed WLM on my test machine, its looking pretty slick, as opposed to the other clients out there, i'm sure even better with various patches applied :P

use digsby now though, not the best client but def better than the alternatives atm, the alpha versions anyway

IRC was first, then ICQ was hot for a minute but MSN quickly became and still is for geeks and grandma's the default IM client. You can chat under other services but its just not the same.

I started using WLM/MSN in 2002 when I joined staff at Neowin. Previously I don't think I ever was on it much before that. It was all about AIM at the time, but now I can't imagine my day without it

Marshalus said,
I started using WLM/MSN in 2002 when I joined staff at Neowin. Previously I don't think I ever was on it much before that. It was all about AIM at the time, but now I can't imagine my day without it :)


Same here, expect for staff part.

Used until this year, then dumped all IMs and enjoy my life again.

Marshalus said,
I started using WLM/MSN in 2002 when I joined staff at Neowin. Previously I don't think I ever was on it much before that. It was all about AIM at the time, but now I can't imagine my day without it :)

ICQ was THE BEST

skullo said,
ICQ was THE BEST :(

the only good thing in ICQ was quick user search within the client, other than that it completely sucks. and unfortunately, it's still default service in Russia used by random 3rd party clients, making all the troubles with functionality, and to make it worse spam still remains.