Can you remember the days before Facebook, Twitter and Instagram? You might not if you were born post the new millennia, but for those who had come of age by the turn of the century, you may have fond memories of the much-loved and cherished Instant-Messaging (IM) application from Microsoft.
In the late 90s, chatting over the internet became popular on networks such as mIRC where teens from different schools would make new friends and gossip online with tacky nicknames. Later on, the popular ICQ from Mirabilis became an instant hit as a messaging platform. Eventually in 1999, Microsoft jumped on the bandwagon and introduced MSN Messenger. That was perhaps the most widespread messaging platform before the advent of social networks. In the US it had stiff competition from AOL’s Instant Messenger, but for the rest of the world MSN was the undisputed king of IM.
Over the years it improved its features and introduced voice and video calls – a popular feature till today. It established web gaming and doodling between friends, eventually re-branding itself as Windows Live Messenger, but its functionality remained the same.
Realizing the growing popularity of Skype, the Seattle-based software giant acquired the VoIP application three years ago. Due to the similarities between their own Messenger and Skype, it tried to merge the apps together. This year, they announced that they will eventually discontinue the service by the end of October, and make Skype their main app for messaging, video and voice calls.
Whilst MSN Messenger’s popularity faded over the years, it will remain a pioneer of the pre-social networks messaging apps. It also evokes nostalgia amongst the teenagers of that era who used the platform as one of their main communication mediums before making the move to Skype and other such applications.