Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board

MSN Messenger

I remember a few years back when everyone used ICQ for instant messaging and no-one had even heard of MSN messenger. Then suddenly everyone I knew was using MSN messenger and nobody cared about their ICQ number anymore.

It seems like MSN messenger overcame a "chicken and egg" problem. Was it because so many people had hotmail accounts already that they didn't have to go through a sign-up process to use MSN messenger? I'm curious as to how you knowledgable people think this was achieved...

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

from the top of my head..

maybe one of the reasons was people on your buddy list were the only people who could contact you as opposed to ICQ.

Other might be that (if i remember correctly) MSN offered free Internet telephony for a while.

Interesting question

Prakash S
Tuesday, February 11, 2003

May be it's due to the fact that Microsoft "force" you to install MSN Messenger when you installing your XP. ;-)

Andrew Chan
Tuesday, February 11, 2003

What got me away from ICQ and on to MSN was the portability.

To keep my home and work contact list in sync was a whole bunch of nasty work. Once I got a laptop as well it all got too hard. Then along came MSN which was (back then) a very light download, quick install and you were ready to go.

ICQ have changed this I believe, but it was too late.

Because it was SO easy, it took off the way Hotmail did. Students and travelers could sign in to net cafes around the world and catch up.

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

The reason I switched was because the MSN buddy list was saved on their server so it saved me the hassle of syncing between several computers.
At the time ICQ was already bloatware, full of useless stuff like reminders, and MSN was a simple lightweight installation.
At first I installed it just to see what it looked like (none of my friends used MSN at the time, they were all on ICQ). When I saw it was pretty cool (and lightweight) I told my friends to install it and before you know it I was uninstalling ICQ.

If you would have asked me at the time (which was not too long ago) if anybody, even the MS giant, had a chance of competing with ICQ, I wouldn't believe it.

Guy Malachi
Wednesday, February 12, 2003

ICQ has got a terrible UI whereas MSN Messenger does cute thing like turn emoticons into little graphics. Don't underestimate the importance of touches like this. What I liked about ICQ was that you could save your conversations.

John Topley
Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Started with ICQ, dumped it when it destroyed my Outlook address book during an upgrade. Tried Messenger. Loved the usable interface (what beings are in control of ICQ interface design? Programmers?) and the absence of IM spam. 95% of my contacts switched to Messsenger after having had a try. Most of them dumped ICQ completely soon afterwards.

Just me (Sir to you)
Wednesday, February 12, 2003

The initial reason I started using it was because it came with XP, but during my Windows 2000 days I had almost stopped using ICQ. And when I started using it I loved the list portability.

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

This is all very nostalgic for something that only happened a couple of years ago... Back when I was working for a now almost-defunct, we all used ICQ. But then we left, and no one uses any IM any more - probably a combination of not being allowed to in their new jobs, not working in the sector any more, and possibly not wanting to speak to me. Who knows.

Aaah, mid-to-late-nineties. They truly were salad days.

Neil E
Wednesday, February 12, 2003

I use Trillian which lets me manage ICQ, MSN, Yahoo, IRC and oh yes that horrible AOL thing.

Simon Lucy
Wednesday, February 12, 2003

I started using MSN (leaving AIM) because all my friends were using it and I wanted to talk to them.  They were using it because it was already on their PC's and didn't know any better...

The popularity of MSN Messenger is completely due to the fact that it comes with the OS and is completely intrusive.  To remove it from XP requires a PHD in nuclear physics.

Steve H
Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Whereas preventing it loading at startup is simplicity itself. Funny, I don't find it obtrusive at all.

John Topley
Wednesday, February 12, 2003

IM usage is primarily driven by what whoever you want to communicate with uses. ICQ usage is dwindling because it's crappy and there are several others with powerful distribution (MSN, Yahoo and AIM). MSN usage is growing particularly rapidly of course because it's Microsoft and that it's really the only one with any penetration into businesses.

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

I first started using IM about three years ago - it saved us the money on an intercom system. :-)

We tried ICQ - slow, bloated, ugly, and hard to understand.

We decided to avoid AOL - the last thing we needed was MORE AOL junk mail.

We tried Yahoo messenger - it wouldn't work through our firewall.

We tried MSIM - simple, clean, easy to install and use, worked through the firewall.

For me anyway, MSIM won because it truly was the superior product, and had nothing to do with "monopoly power." If XP didn't ship with MSIM I'd install it anyway.

Chris Tavares
Wednesday, February 12, 2003

By default Messenger starts up in 3 ways on a Windows XP system:
1. at startup
2. when you log into using internet explorer
3. when you use outlook express.

As you mentioned, #1 can be easily disabled, 2 and 3 require you to edit your registry to disable.  Editing the registry might be common for people in IT, but it's not something that most people understand how to do.

If you consider what a normal, non-technical person does on a computer at home-- turn it on, browse the web, check email-- then MSN Messenger is very intrusive. 

Ever tried to unstall it?  You can't.  If any of the other IM clients acted like this there would be a huge uproar, but MS gets away with it.

Steve H
Wednesday, February 12, 2003

The "difficult to uninstall" is not unique to MS.  There are a ton of applications - one recent example is explained by Bob Cringely much better than I could:

Furthermore, the average user is probably not using both Outlook Express and, and actually is pretty unlikely to be running Win XP at all.

The non-techie users I know run Win 9x or ME on their home machines.  If they have Win XP at all, it's at work - where Outlook Express is not usually the dominant email client.

Just a thought
Wednesday, February 12, 2003

"If you consider what a normal, non-technical person does on a computer at home-- turn it on, browse the web, check email-- then MSN Messenger is very intrusive."

should read:

"If you consider what a normal, non-technical person does on a computer at home-- turn it on, browse the web, check email, chat-- then MSN Messenger is not remotely intrusive."

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

MSN Messenger:  I've found that X-Setup ( ) makes it pretty easy to keep that blasted thing from popping up all the time.

ICQ:  A couple years ago, I used to use it.  Then one morning I came in the computer room, booted up, and after a few minutes, up on my screen popped an IE window containing a veritable sea of flesh engaged in activities I wasn't used to watching other people do, courtesy of somebody on ICQ.  Now I'm sure there are ways to prevent this occurrence, but I took the most direct route:  I uninstalled ICQ, and it hasn't been back since.  Since then I've dabbled in AIM and MSN Messenger, but overall I've found that instant messaging is something I can easily live without.

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

A lot of people who used ICQ hated it, but it was the only kid on the block, with the coolest Remote-Controlled car. Especially you'd be proud if you have a 6 or less digit ICQ #.

But then it got bigger, with bells and whistles, so that you'd think "why the (AO)hell do I need this"? Out of 15 functions, people used the Instant-Messaging. Plus, they had changed versions so many times, so that almost every user had a problem and frustation.

So people were looking for alternatives, and Microsoft was just at the right time, with a super-easy sleek interface. So if our cross-atlantic team of (15+) programmers were using ICQ, we all switched to MSN in 1 day! (and by then, we all used Win98/NT).

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

my msn messenger is not working and i try signing in but it(the computer)wont sign me in what do i do?
i have windows 95 and i have msn messenger 4.6 i tried installing 5.0 but it won't let me install anything i need help.

plz answer this Question plz
Friday, November 7, 2003

i can not open hotmail  says wrong password  but wont tell me what my password is

kenton mclaughlin
Saturday, February 28, 2004

One simple solution to all your IM woes... Trillian! ICQ, MSN, AIM, IRC, and Yahoo! all in one trim, feature rich package.

The wargoth
Wednesday, March 17, 2004

I don't find MSN Messenger obtrusive in the least,I use it on a regular basis.I have disabled it on startup and Outlook,so basically I just ckick on the desktop icon and there it is,when I'm done,I close it and there it isn't.

I don't have a PHD in nuclear physics,and I found ,after a 2 second Google search,a way to completely remove MSN Messenger from an xp computer (yes,I also use xp pro)
If you really want to revove MSN Messenger :

Click "Start" -> "Run..."
copy and paste:
RunDll32 advpack.dll,LaunchINFSection %windir%\INF\msmsgs.inf,BLC.Remove

Rudy Evenson
Saturday, April 3, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home