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Messenger Plus! Live gets a new development team

Messenger Plus! Live is by far the most used add-on for Windows Live Messenger. The project started in May of 2001, and nine years later has over 60 million users, has been translated into 21 languages, and is downloaded and installed more than 300,000 times a day. The best part about it: it’s free. Messenger Plus! Live has been solely developed by Patchou, who I know as Cyril, for the past nine years.

Patchou created a company some years ago called Yuna Software for legal reasons, and the company never really was made public knowledge until recently. With the program continuing to grow, there’s only so much one developer can do on their own. Cyril has announced that he has stepped down as the distributor of Messenger Plus! and is now being developed by Yuna Software. While Cyril has not stepped down completely from his duties, the development of the program will rest in the hands of the company.

In an e-mail to beta testers, Cyril said “I need all of you to understand that I am not personally associated with Messenger Plus! anymore. I would like to say more about everything but I’m not legally allowed to do so.”  With the transition already rolled out, members of the community are skeptical as to where Messenger Plus! Live is heading. The company now controlling the software has not contacted any of the members in the community, and has already started developing new builds leaving the beta testers out of the loop.

Messenger Plus! Live has been around this long, and with a 60 million person user base I highly doubt it will disappear anytime soon. It is important to understand that Cyril himself did not sell or give up on the project, he simply took the company and built it and the program is now being developed by other people. We’ve contacted Yuna Software for a statement regarding this transition, and at the time of posting have not received a reply.

Cyril reflected on the past nine years in a very extensive post on his personal website entitled “The Messenger Plus! Story”. Below are excerpts from the posting, mainly the most interesting ones.

From what I can see in my archives (I still have all the versions of Messenger Plus! I have ever released), Version 1.00 Beta 1 was created on May 6th 2001 and the final release of Version 1.00 was released only two weeks later, on May 19th.

The name itself was equally un-inspired: “MSN Messenger " Plus! Extension”, changed to “Messenger - Plus! Extension” 3 months later for trademark reasons. MSN Messenger 4 and 4.5 got out, Microsoft created Windows Messenger to be bundle Messenger with Windows XP, and Messenger Plus! kept on improving along the way. Once it reached version 1.42, Messenger Plus! started to suffer from its weakness: initially meant to be a small-scale project with only 9,000 lines of code, the software, its engine in particular, was under too much pressure and couldn’t be properly updated much longer.

The first anniversary of Messenger Plus! was celebrated in silence as life pushed me on another path in 2002. 6 months, 5 private betas, 5 public betas and 30,000 new lines of code later, project MP2 was completed! It first took 3 months of work to create and re-think Messenger Plus! from scratch. The first private beta version was released on December 24th 2002 and the next ones followed in sequence after one of the beta setups got leaked to the public. . The final version got released in April 2003 and was the first one to ever be translated (officially) in other languages: 27 to be exact.

Fortunately, two things happened in the summer of 2003: the company I was working for closed several departments, including my own, freeing me from my daily obligations, and another company approached me in relation to Messenger Plus!. This company’s name was C2 Media. The business idea was simple: bundle another program with Messenger Plus! that would add a toolbar in the users’ browsers and display a new home page. This company was serious enough to rapidly send somebody to meet me in Montreal and we concluded a quick deal to test out the idea. That’s how Messenger Plus! 2.20 got associated with its first “sponsor program”.

Going back to the end of 2005, something significant happened at Microsoft: “MSN” turned into “Windows Live” or at least, that’s how they presented it at the time (as of 2009, the MSN brand still exists and focuses on specific parts of Microsoft’s online strategy). The first beta version of MSN Messenger 8 was named Windows Live Messenger Beta 1 and Windows Messenger (the version of MSN Messenger previously distributed with Windows XP) was abandoned.

The 5th anniversary of Messenger Plus! got celebrated with its 150th million installation recorded since its existence and a month later, Messenger Plus! Live became public, on June 24th at precisely 23:40 GMT. By the end of 2007, Messenger Plus! was installed and running on 25 million computers and by the end of 2008, when a “unique user counting” statistic was added in the software, access from 58 million different user accounts was recorded in a given month.

The days of “Messenger Plus! by Patchou” are now over and the switch to Yuna Software has been completed. The product now relies on a more solid, more robust base and it will help the product grow up to new extents in the future. For that reason, I thought it would be appropriate to sum up the last 8 years of my life in an article like this one, before too much of it gets distorted by time, which is also why I created this blogging site in the first place.

For a long time, msgplus.net was a place where I published my work, tried to share my passion with others, and talked about just anything I felt like talking. After so many years spending my weekends on a single product, I think it’s fair to say I’ve done my part and I can now dissociate my personal life from my work again, even if just a little “

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