posted by Nicole

The i’m Initiative is the most exciting piece of news I have had to share with Messenger users since I started working on Messenger over 3 years ago and there has been tons of exciting news over the last 3 years. Now if you are like me and are a Lost fan if you hear The <anything> Initiative your mind immediately jumps to the DHARMA Initiative and you assume it must be bad and very mysterious. The i’m Initiative is completely the opposite, it is very good and all the previous mystery around the secret emoticon in Messenger 8.1 will be revealed below.

When I think about working at Microsoft on Windows Live Messenger two things in particular make me feel warm and fuzzy about my job:

  1. Having an impact on the best IM client and network in the world (according to me and I am sure most of you) used by over a 1/4 Billion users around the world
  2. Microsoft and its employees’ commitment to giving back to the world 

Not everyone has the financial ability to give money to the causes they care about. That is where the i’m Initiative steps in – it enables Windows Live Messenger users to make a difference by directing a portion of Messenger’s advertising revenue to a cause of their choosing.

If you are like me there must a be ton of questions flying around in your head about how it works, so I have used my favorite blog format (FAQ) below to hopefully help answer all your questions. If you still have questions please head on over to the Windows Live Messenger Newsgroup where I will be happy to answer them for you.

Wonderful! How does it work?

  1. Use Messenger 8.1
  2. Add the i’m emoticon to your display name by entering the code of the cause you would like to support (hint: I suggest adding it at the end of your name so you still appear in the correct alphabetic order in your contacts list)
  3. Send and receive IMs
  4. A portion of the advertising revenue generated by your usage of Messenger will be donated to your cause. So the more IMs you send and receive the more money will be donated to your cause.

note: currently the donation only applies to Windows Live Messenger users in the United States. If you are in the US and you are IMing with a contact in another country your IM activity will be counted towards the donation.

What does the i’m emoticon  represent?

It tells your contacts that you are making a difference, it is short for "i’m making a difference".

What are the i’m emoticon  codes and causes?

Can I put the I’m emoticon  in my personal message? and send it in IM?

Yes you can. However you must also place it in your display name for your IM activity to be counted towards the donation.

My favorite cause isn’t listed. What can I do?

Please send us feedback here.

What is the minimum amount that will be contributed to each cause?

Each of the causes above will receive at a minimum $100,000 in the first year.

If there is a minimum there must be a maximum for each cause. What is it? 

There is no maximum. The more IMs you send and receive the more money will be donated to the cause you select. 

Can I contribute to multiple causes?

You can put multiple causes in your display name, however only the first one listed will count towards the donation. If you can’t choose just one, feel free to change the first one as often as you wish.

How does Messenger even generate revenue\money anyway?

Windows Live Messenger is a free service to users. We do include advertisements in the client that help pay for the service and our salaries. With the i’m Initiative you get to decide where a portion of the revenue goes.

Some of my contacts can’t see the i’m emoticon What gives?

In order to see the i’m emoticon  you must be using Messenger 8.1 final. You can tell your friends to get it here.

I have followed all the steps above. What can I do to help out even more?

  • Tell all your contacts on Windows Live Messenger to add the i’m emoticon  to their display name and don’t stop until your contact list looks like this:

OK maybe not exactly like that but you get the idea

  • If you have friends and family who are not using Windows Live Messenger yet encourage them to do so
  • Create a trackback or link to this post on your blog or in e-mail to share this information with others
  • Keep sending more IMs
  • Visit the sites of the causes listed above to check out different ways to help
  • Check out the official i’m Initiative website to find out about stuff you can add to your blog and email signature to show your support

This sounds too good to be true – sort of like that e-mail I got about Bill Gates sending me a Million dollars if I forward the email onto 10 friends and they send it on to 10 friends, etc. How do I know this is really true?

You can check out the official i’m Initiative website — — and the causes will have information on their websites as well.

I don’t live in the United States. What can I do?

As mentioned above – currently the donation only applies to Windows Live Messenger users in the United States but there are still ways you can help out.

  1. Sign up here. You will be asked for your country information, this will help with future plans of expanding this to other countries.
  2. Add the i’m emoticon  to your display name anyways to show your contacts what cause you support
  3. Encourage all your friends especially the ones in the US to put an i’m emoticon in their display name
  4. Send a lot of IMs to your friends in the US
  5. Send feedback here about what causes you would like to see added in your country

I still have more questions, where can I get more answers?

Head on over to the Windows Live Messenger Newsgroup. note: I am currently on vacation (in Hawaii where Lost is filmed, so I will not be replying until Monday). Aloha and Mahalo!


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