posted by Rick

Hi everybody, I’m Rick Eames, Group Program Manager for Windows Live Messenger.  First off, I want to thank you for all your feedback over the last few days as we’ve rolled out the client upgrade to Windows Live Messenger 8.1.  We’re actively reading all your feedback and are working within the Messenger team to investigate the problems folks are having so we can be as helpful as possible in resolving them.  This upgrade will impact about 1/4 to 1/3 of the Messenger user base.  Most people on the network were already running the 8.1 client.

Why we’re upgrading your Messenger Client

I wanted to write this blog post to talk a little more about why we’ve issued the mandatory upgrade.  A lot of the feedback I’m reading in the blog comments and newsgroups has the sentiment of “Hey, I don’t need Microsoft keeping me safe.  This is my machine, I know what’s best for it, and I can be responsible for my own actions.”  That argument certainly makes sense in the context of an individual person & their machine. 

The nature of IM networks and certain security bugs, though, is that they may allow the attacker to use your machine to attack other members of the Messenger community.  As you can imagine, in a highly connected network like Messenger it would not take long before all Messenger users could be under attack. Because these types of scenarios are possible, we felt we needed to take action to protect all our users and issue the right fix.  Another way to think about it is to imagine the security bug to be a disease and that it’s our responsibility to inoculate the network so that the disease can’t spread.  The more clients that are safe, the lower the risk to the entire community.    

Also, many of the readers of this blog and the participants on the newsgroups are pretty savvy computer users – you understand how to look out for viruses, worms, phishing schemes, etc. – but there is a larger portion of the Messenger user base that is not that savvy.  Have we optimized for these folks?  Yes.  Why?  Because we know that they are the majority of our user base and we have a responsibility to keep them safe.  You probably noticed that we took a similar stance a few weeks ago when a URL worm found its way on to the Messenger network. 

What we’re doing with your feedback & issues

Many folks on the Messenger team are actively working to investigate the problems you’ve reported around not being able to sign in, contacts that aren’t showing properly, and emoticons and other content having gone missing.  We will be posting responses on the public Windows Live Messenger newsgroup.  I encourage you to look there for resolutions to your issues, and I’d request that you post there if you’re having a problem with the upgrade that hasn’t yet been reported.  The benefit of posting your issues on the newsgroups rather than as blog comments is that we are able to reply to your newsgroup post directly and connect with you if we need more information about your particular issue.

We realize that being forced to upgrade is not ideal and can be painful (inoculation shots can hurt L), but we do believe we’re doing it with the best intentions of keeping the network safe and secure so that all our users have a good experience.

Thanks for being such a great Messenger user, and thanks again for all your feedback.  Keep it coming.

Rick

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If you have a comment on this post please comment! For other questions/concerns/discussion topics/rants/raves/etc – please head over to the Windows Live Messenger Newsgroup.