#6: MSN MESSENGER
MSN Messenger was the heartbeat of many people’s youth and social life – and was a pioneering messaging service in the early years of the internet. Developed by Microsoft and released in 1999, the service allowed users to instantly message one another. The service quickly became hugely popular, attracting hundreds of millions of users. Yet for various reasons, MSN Messenger is no longer around, having ceased operations in 2013. In this article, we take a look at the history of MSN Messenger, and analyse what went wrong.
MSN Messenger was launched in July 1999. At first, the service offered basic chat features. But, over the following years, the service improved exponentially – helping it to attract a vast following. Microsoft were able to use their position as the dominant operating system in the world to make the MSN Messenger service ingrained with the Windows system. The early years of the client also witnessed considerable effort being made to improve the user experience wherever possible.
As part of a wider rebranding from Microsoft, the MSN Messenger was renamed as ‘Windows Live Messenger’ in 2005. Again, more and more features were added, many of which are still seen in modern day messaging services. By 2009, the service had over 330million active users each month. This made MSN Messenger among the most popular instant messaging clients in the world. But over the course of the next two years, the service witnessed a colossal drop in active users.
To arrest this, following Microsoft’s purchase of Skype in 2011, the two platforms were merged. MSN Messenger was to be phased out, with its users told they could use their login details on Skype – in an attempt to make migration easy. But by then, the real damage had already been done to MSN Messenger – in the form of social network behemoth Facebook.
Facebook became more and more popular, and users started favouring their chat system over MSN Messenger. This made MSN Messenger less relevant, in part causing its demise. Facebook Messenger remains to this day largely popular. Facebook, along with two of their platforms – Instagram and WhatsApp, dominate the instant messaging market. Several years on, it is clear that MSN Messenger is still thought about… and missed. Many clearly feel a sense of nostalgia over the service.
Overall, the main reason for MSN Messenger having to cease operations was the rise of Facebook, and their associated services. For several years MSN Messenger was the most used instant-messaging service in the world, with logging in (and out, and back in again) becoming part of a daily routine for many people around the world. But in a world that has witnessed the domination of Facebook and its services, there was simply no place for MSN Messenger, leading to its closure.