My teenage years were defined by one thing – MSN Messenger. In a pre-Facebook and smartphone dispensation, the instant messaging service influenced every aspect of my life. It defined my social circle and standing, affected the quality of my grades and also provided a platform for me to communicate with friends, family and potentially, anybody, anywhere in the world.
But with the advent of social media and smartphones, web-based instant messaging services like MSN (or Windows Live Messenger (WLM) as it is now known) and its competitor, Yahoo Messenger have suffered a drastic decline in popularity. Sites like Facebook now offer instant messaging as an integrated add-on, enabling users to not only talk to people, but to see what the rest of their lives look like. And as much as WLM has tried to keep up with the updates, it looks like the waves of advancement have been a bit too overwhelming.
The MSN Messenger service was officially decommissioned in 2009 and reduced to an add-on to Windows Live Hotmail. And despite claiming to have 330million active users, a recent report suggested that WLM's audience had fallen to 7.2 million unique users. I believe it is because of this that Microsoft announced this month that it will be 'retiring'the instant messaging service and will replace it with Skype, a similar service that has continued to grow over the years.
As much as it saddens me to see WLM go, I think it is very necessary. I would rather see my beloved instant messaging service put out of its misery than for it to suffer the same fate as MySpace and Nokia. I am confident that people will look back fondly on what it was and how it influenced a new way of interaction. It set the standard for online communications and can even be argued to be the first online social media. Without MSN messenger, we won't have WhatsApp, iMessage and the likes.
Adieu MSN Messenger. Thank you for everything.