We have a special treat for today – Ten years ago tomorrow, Microsoft launched one of its most innovative communication services – Windows Live Messenger (then known as MSN Messenger). Throughout its many stages of evolution over the years, Windows Live Messenger – with 330 million users – has become the most widely used free instant messaging service in the world. To celebrate ten fantastic years, we asked Danny Glasser (Partner Development Manager, Windows Live), one of the founding members of the Windows Live Messenger team to share how Microsoft decided to launch Windows Live Messenger. Here’s his story:
In 1997, while working on Microsoft NetMeeting, Danny was dealing with a flaw in the product. Users of NetMeeting, an audiovisual communication client, were having trouble finding the people they wanted to talk to. This wasn’t exactly ideal for a service that billed itself as a collaboration tool, so the team set out to find a fix. The proposed solution: Enable NetMeeting users to maintain a list of the people they cared about, to be able to see when those contacts were online, and to be able to initiate NetMeeting calls easily with those contacts. It was dubbed the “Buddy List” project.
NetMeeting is no more, but what the team came up with ultimately became the world’s number one instant messaging service. Ten years ago today, MSN Messenger made its debut. “It definitely felt like we were working on something special,” said Danny. “I don’t know that I could have predicted accurately the number of people who would use it, but we had a feeling it would be a big thing.”
Looking back, Danny said he’s amazed at how huge Messenger has become. At the outset, scalability was one of the team’s biggest concerns. Inside the hallway of a building on Microsoft’s RedWest campus the team put up a real-time counter showing the number of simultaneous online connections (SOCs) around the clock. They started with tens of thousands and hit the 1 million mark after a year; today, Windows Live Messenger sees about 40 million SOCs.
Amazing work indeed! Happy anniversary and congratulations (and thank you) to the Messenger “v1 team” and everyone who has worked hard to make Windows Live Messenger what it is today!
It’s interesting to note that although NetMeeting is no more, people across the globe use Windows Live Messenger to chat during business meetings. Nearly a quarter (21 percent) of Americans recently surveyed use Messenger during business meetings; of those people, roughly 83 percent say they IM “fairly often” during meetings to make after-work plans.
While it’s interesting to visit Messenger’s beginnings it’s exciting to think about how far the product has come. Over the past year, Messenger has delivered a host of fun ways to communicate and share including new ways to share photos, personalize how you chat and stay up to date with what your friends are doing across the web, including on Facebook and Flickr.
Care for a fun fact for the anniversary?
(This one is also in honor of the 40th anniversary of the lunar landing.)
Imagine if a single-page letter was mailed for every one of the 1.6 billion Messenger sessions that happen every day. The individual pages lined up one after another would stack up to the moon within a day! The weight would weigh 33 times more than the Endeavor Space Shuttle (with boosters and tank).
And by the way, using Messenger instead saves 2.8 million trees every day. 🙂
The following story is a small example of what happens in the 1.6 billion sessions shared every day on Messenger.
Amanda (USA/Holland): a long distance love story
My name is Amanda and I live in Ohio. My Windows Live Messenger story starts in January of 2004.
I met a guy on a website and we swapped Windows Live Messenger screen names. Using chat and voice chat we talked for over 40 hours in just 4 days! It was the perfect way to stay in touch especially since I was in Ohio and he was in Den Haag Holland. The phone bill would have been insane without the messenger!
We talked each day using Windows Live Messenger and finally met face to face in April 2004 and we immediately got engaged. When he had to return to Holland we continued to keep in touch almost strictly using Windows Live and Hotmail.
In September 2004 he moved from Holland to Ohio so we could get married. I’ll never forget how excited and happy I was when he told me he was finally going to move! It was the best day in both of our lives at that point!
We got married on November 20th, 2004 and had a daughter Prudence February 7th, 2006. This year we celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary and none of it wouldn’t have been possible without the connection we made thanks to Windows Live Messenger!
We easily logged thousands of hours of chat, voice chat, and webcam between the time we met online and the time we were finally together!
Over 6000 miles separated us but the distance didn’t seem quite so big when we could see and hear each other every day.
– Amanda (Ohio, USA)