doug — off the record

just a place to share some thoughts

Whatever happened to …

… MSN Messenger?

This one is actually a pretty easy post to write because I found the question and answer here.

What Ever Happened to MSN Messenger?

I do remember MSN Messenger popping up when I installed a version of Windows a long time ago. The article talks about 2001. Wow!

It popped up after the installation and it seemed to come bundled with a bunch of other Microsoft stuff at the time. I think I did install it once and played around with it. But, I just didn’t get it. As the article mentions, AOL was a big competitor at the time. I didn’t get that either.

My computing and communication world was based on email. I had a couple of work emails and a few home personal emails. Why would I want another place to go to look for messages? As we all know, when someone sent an email, they expected a reply almost immediately. Email was just becoming a widely accepted thing at the time and there seemed to be a mindset that only you and the person on the other end were the only ones connected so why wouldn’t you expect to get a reply immediately?

As it turns out, I didn’t ride the wrong horse and MSN Messenger went away. Does this mean that email turned out to be the ultimate answer?

Around here, not so much. I do get email messages but they tend to be from older folks who remain attached to email or mailing lists that I’ve subscribed to and then there’s always the spam.

These days, people use other services which I suspect was where Microsoft wanted to take MSN Messenger but were ahead of the time. Most everything around here is tied to a social network with Twitter and Facebook offering private messaging services. With an application on my phone, I get the messages immediately. I don’t check in; they’re checking in for me. Two other things that gather attention are direct texting to the phone or a Slack server that I have set up with a friend and his brother that gets the majority of my attention. These alternatives to email seem to be more personal and personalized. Ironically, I just got a message on my phone from Environment Canada about a weather advisory.

Photo by Franck on Unsplash

I find that these newer services get my immediate attention these days. Email sits and waits until I get around to it. With Windows 11 and on my Chromebook, I have my phone connected so I get notifications from the phone even if I’m using my computer.

For a Sunday, your thoughts?

  • did you ever use MSN Messenger? If so, how?
  • did you ever use AOL’s services?
  • these days, it seems that we all have the ability to get messages from a variety of services. Which ones fit into your digital world?
  • do you have notifications turned on with your devices so that you get notified immediately or do you prefer to be left alone?
  • do you sleep your messages at night so that you’re not wakened?
  • how much has spam creeped into your digitial live and connected services?
  • how does email fit into your digital life these days? Has it been replaced by another messaging service?
  • do you still have a CD-ROM floating around your place with a copy of MSN Messenger just waiting to be installed?

As with any Sunday morning, I’d be most interested in your thoughts.

This is part of a regular Sunday morning routine around here. You can check out all the past posts here.


7 responses to “Whatever happened to …”

  1. Good morning Doug!

    I have a few anecdotes from over the years that have crystallized into a clear understanding of what has worked and what hasn’t worked over the last 30+ years.

    First, I never used MSN messenger, or AOL. CompuServe would have had something, but I only used it as an Internet connection.

    Email: The first and continually dominant form of electronic communication was email. I remember the day when I managed to have four back-and-forth email conversations with someone while in the same space of time a non-email person and I were playing phone tag. Over the years there were many siloed variants on newsgroups, forums, (things like The Electronic Village/ENOREO) that never took off and never took hold for long because you had to actually GO TO THEM to engage. I came to realize that only a ListServ that delivered into and could be replied to from your email worked seamlessly with email to facilitate ongoing communications. Today there are a couple of Google Groups that I interact with because they work with email in the same way that a ListServ would.

    Twitter: Twitter was the first non-email platform that split my attention between email and something else. For a good decade it became a primary place for daily communication with educators and a wonderful source of networking. It became a quicker way to connect with someone than email itself – – short messages and back-and-forth communications via DM‘s that made far more sense than email, and the ability to involve multiple people and allow other people to chime in/build on existing conversations within public threads. Sadly, I have found that Twitter has become somewhat of a poisonous place over the last four years, and so it commands less of my attention these days then I would like. I find that I really need to be careful about my use of Twitter so that I can avoid the negativities and the problematic trending topics that arise as a result of politically driven Twitter farms.

    Slack: you and Peter McAsh introduced the ECOO board to Slack. I will confess it took me at least six months to appreciate its value over email, but once it became fully integrated with our Google domain, it made perfect sense for focussed internal discussions in a way that a newsgroup or a forum might have worked 20 years back. It is the third platform that I now engage with on a daily basis – ECOO now has several workgroups on the platform, and it is also used by another not-for-profit that I work with on a daily basis. In fact, for focussed ongoing work, Slack takes precedence by far over email and Twitter these days. I may occasionally receive a link to a document via email, and there are a couple of people that I know I can reach much more quickly on Twitter because they aren’t as directly connected to Slack, but it truly has a place for those work groups that have embraced it.

    Teams: MS teams is another space that I access periodically — however, I primarily rely upon an email notification to draw me into that space, as it is more cumbersome than Slack when you have multiple Teams to navigate.

    Facebook: Facebook is another space that I typically rely on email notifications to draw me to. Again, there’s a huge amount of problematic stuff on Facebook, and so I tend to use it only when I get a notification of a post from someone I want to hear of.

    In terms of “spam,“ Friday and Saturday saw my email inbox filled with almost nothing but notifications of Black Friday sales. I should have taken a count, but it was fascinating to move down the inbox list swiping left time after time after time to delete all of those messages. On a positive note, the big service-based email platforms seem to do a pretty good job these days of filtering out the spam. Rare now is the day when an email arrives trying to connect me with my long lost suitcase of cash in the San Francisco baggage claim or offering an opportunity from a lowly clerk in some foreign regime who is seeking assistance in repatriating thousands or millions of dollars.


  2. Same as Andrew re: MSN, AOL and Twitter (past and present!). But now I have more messaging via FB than Twitter. But with the Twitter app on my phone and not FB, I am aware of Twitter DMs faster. I still use email a fair bit (older relatives, a few friends, sending stuff to my family that is not a pressing matter, and emailing myself stuff haha). Cell phones are silenced for the night (we still have a landline if there really is an emergency with family and only set specified numbers will ring through in the early hours. We got tired of 7 am spam calls). Spam remains manageable I suppose — ugh. I haven’t noticed an increase, but I have a good filter for email spam, thankfully.


  3. I’m married to my husband thanks to MSN messenger. He lived on one side of the border and I lived on the other. Phone calls were expensive! Messenger was free. :). We’ve been married since 2001.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a great story, Lisa. Thanks for sharing it.


  4. […] Whatever happened to … | doug — off the record […]


  5. With the plethora of messaging options our online lives have definitely become more nuanced and compartmentalized. I find I now have to consider: do I email? Do I phone? Do I text? Do I use messenger? (as in Facebook Messenger) Marshall McLuhan was so prophetic 60 years ago. “The medium definitely is the message. ” No one could possibly realize what that would come to mean.


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