Microsoft’s MSN Messenger, or Windows Live Messenger as it’s now known, will be fully retired on Oct. 31. The software maker originally announced its plans to shift users over to Skype last year, but Microsoft kept the service running in China. After Oct. 31, Chinese Messenger users will need to use Skype, bringing an end to 15 years of the service.
MSN Messenger started off life in 1999 as a rival to AOL’s AIM service. Both companies battled over chat dominance, and Microsoft engineers reverse-engineered AOL’s chat protocol to allow MSN Messenger to sign into AIM, a process that AOL wasn’t happy with when Microsoft first released its instant messaging client. Over the years Microsoft added various features, including custom emoticons, the ability to play Minesweeper with friends, a nudge feature that would shake a friend’s chat window, and the super annoying winks option to send friends giant animated emoticons.
Microsoft has typically celebrated its MSN Messenger milestones with big green mascot outfits, but the 15-year mark and the end of the Messenger era is departing quietly. Farewell, MSN Messenger.
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