This week Microsoft started sending out email announcements to Live Messenger members, informing them that Messenger will be discontinued on March 15th, and everyone must migrate to the latest version of Skype for IM services.
This is exciting news. As I think Messenger has become one of Microsoft’s crappiest products ever. For about a year now I have rarely used Messenger, as the user experience has gotten progressively worse with every single update they have released. It’s a typical Microsoft resource hog, slow, awkward to use, and complicated to find features.
The early stages of Messenger were good. And it had various names over the years; Windows Messenger, MSN Messenger, Live Messenger, Essentials Messenger, and perhaps even Hotmail Messenger in the beginning. In the early days of Messenger, it quickly took focus from Yahoo and ICQ, and became the prominent chat utility with anyone I knew and chatted with. If you liked to chat online, even if you preferred Yahoo Messenger, you still had to have Windows Messenger to be compatible with everyone.
Then it went from being a native app to being a .Net app, and that’s where it all started to change, slowed down, bloated, too many added “features” we didn’t need or want, and then finally it tried to look like you were using a browser, and even had to open your browser in the last versions to edit profiles and make certain account changes. Usability went completely into the toilet. No longer was chatting online a good time.
And now you can migrate your chat contacts to Skype, and do all your Messenger IM from that app. And the interesting thing is that the look and feel of chatting in Skype is almost like the early days of the Windows Messenger. Simple, straight forward, limited and easy to use. It’s absolutely a step back in time, and I love it! But it is limited, as in they have not added even basic IM features yet. In version 188.8.131.52, the most notable absence is blocking and unblocking of contacts. Either you are online with all of them or you are not. If you look in Tools > Options > Privacy, you will see the initial signs of adding these features, but not yet fully implemented. I would assume that they will be by the time they kill off the horrid Essentials Messenger.
But even with the lack of some basis features, Skype IM for Microsoft contacts is a very refreshing change, and it’s totally unlike anything Microsoft would normally do. Seeing Microsoft make a change like this and seemingly starting over again with IM is excellent!