posted by Chris

On the Messenger Server side, we keep track of how many people are logged onto our service at once.  We need this type of data for a variety of reasons, such as capacity planning.  Recently, we hit a major milestone: more than 30,000,000 users logged in from around the world at the exact same time of 204 million Messenger users.  It is amazing to think of all these people connected and using our service.  They are making voice calls, sending nudges and doing all sorts of other things.  Thirty million people isn’t a number that can easily be visualized.  To give the number some perspective, this is equivalent to every man, woman and child of Canada logged into and using Messenger.

Thinking about all these people on Messenger at once reminded me of an email that I received.  I heard an incredible story about Tara’s stepfather’s Messenger experience.  Tara said that I could share this with all of you:

A bit of context: As many of you now know, the reason I traveled to the east coast last week was to take my daughter to spend time w/ my mother and stepfather because my stepfather (and the only grandfather she knows on my side of the family) is terminally ill and quickly fading. Last September, at age 59, he was diagnosed with a rare form of Lou Gehrig’s disease, Bulbar ALS, which first affects the muscles that control the speech, chewing and swallowing before spreading to the rest of the body.  Doctors say he has about six months to live.

Today, one year into his diagnosis, he is physically strong and keeps quite busy with projects around their house as well as for friends. Most whom encounter him simply think he’s quiet and they do not realize he cannot not speak, neither swallow nor eat. He has been carrying dry-erase whiteboards everywhere with him in order to communicate, and he relies on my mother for most long distance (meaning not in the same room) communication.

One of my goals for the trip last week was to introduce him to Messenger and IMing for the first time in the hopes that he’d try it without me there. This was no small challenge as he reluctantly used a PC at work for company-specific inventory projects. Only recently has he begun to use email, but the lack of instant gratification was frustrating for him. He did not understand that emails, for a myriad of reasons, do not always reach the recipient immediately. So my mother and purchased a laptop for him, and I set up their wireless network so that he would be able sit anywhere he was comfortable (which really blew his mind).

Saturday, we sat down for two hours and I showed him all the basics from adding contacts to his buddy list to connecting to my both of my step-sisters successfully to show him how to initiative a video chat session. When we finished, he seemed excited, sheepish and leery of the innovation before him. He was concerned with his typing speed and his grammar skills in real-time without spell/grammar check. I did my best to show him how I “multi-tasked” (surfing the web or doing email) while IMing with others, and I explained that no one would be sitting there bored waiting for him to type. I hoped that my best attempt at boosting his confidence was working.

Tonight, my mother called me as I was driving home to tell me that he had just spent an hour IMing with my stepsister, Lisa. She said that the two of them are in “IM heaven,” and that Lisa said she feels like she can have real conversations with him once more.

I don’t know how long he’ll be here, but I do know in the short amount of time he has left that he will be a proud Windows Live Messenger user, and he’ll be one of our most loyal and grateful users.

Thank you for doing what you do, guys.

After hearing about Tara’s stepfather, I forwarded the email to my parents.  I was so proud to be working on Messenger.

I bet a lot of you have some pretty great stories about using Messenger.  Heart-warming or hilarious, the Messenger team and I would love to hear about it.  Please add them to the newsgroup.

If you have a comment/question/concern/discussion topic/rant/rave/other – please head over to the Windows Live Messenger Newsgroup.