Windows Live Messenger

Windows Live Messenger (WLM), formerly known as MSN Messenger, is a freeware instant messaging client for Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows Mobile, first released on July 22, 1999 by Microsoft. It is part of Microsoft's Windows Live set of online services. The current version is 8.0, which was released on June 19, 2006. Amongst its users it is still often referred to as "MSN" (referring to pre-8.0 versions) primarily because many people have not upgraded, do not give attention to the name change, or are not familiar with Windows Live. Some people simply call it MSN because it is familiar and easier to say. In some parts of Latin America, Spain, and the Middle East it is known as simply "Messenger".

"MSN Messenger" (or often just "MSN") is often also used to refer to the .NET Messenger Service (the protocols and servers that allow the system to operate) rather than any particular client. Corporations can also integrate their Live Communication Server and Active Directory with the network on behalf of its clients. Most major multi protocol clients can also connect to the service.

It is possible for any computer running with an Internet connection and a web browser to connect to the Messenger Service by using MSN Web Messenger. Although Microsoft only supports this for computers running Windows, it does not actually require Windows. There are also unofficial equivalents of this service.

The Sharing Folder feature of Windows Live Messenger is an alternative to the "direct transfer" method of file distribution. When a user wants to deliver a file to another person on his or her contact list, the "sharing folder" window appears, which is an individualized representation of all previously shared items.

When files are added to the "sharing folder" for that particular person, the file will automatically be transferred to the corresponding computer when they are online. This means that the folder is literally "shared" between two computers. If a user deletes a file, for example, the file will also be deleted from the corresponding computer's shared folder.

To minimize risk of virus-infected transfers, the "sharing folder" feature is bundled with an anti-virus program. The "sharing folder" feature can only be used on computers with NTFS-formatted hard disks.

In addition to PC-to-PC calls that have been supported in previous versions, Windows Live Messenger now supports PC-to-phone calls. The rates during the beta period are 2.3 cents per minute to and from North America and Western Europe.

Interoperability between Yahoo! and Windows Live Messenger was launched July 12, 2006. This allowed, after registration, for Yahoo! and Windows Live Messenger users to talk to each other provided both contacts used the latest versions of the clients. However if a user uses an older client they will appear offline to the users of the other network.

There are various games and applications available in Windows Live Messenger that can be accessed via the conversation window by clicking the games icon and challenging your "buddy".

* Unlike previous versions, one can start conversations even when his or her status is set to Appear Offline, like in Yahoo! Messenger.

* It is possible to message a contact who's offline. The contact will receive the message as soon as he or she signs in.

* Nicknames of individual contacts can be customized to appear differently from what the contact has set.

* Windows Live Messenger onwards gives the ability to turn off pre-pending contact names if same person writes multiple messages. If the same contact writes more than one message, the contact name will be displayed for only the first message.

* Messages from contacts can now be time-stamped.

* Colour scheme can be chosen for the entire application, including the status window, and not just the conversation windows. A paint brush menu is situated below the personal message box in Windows Live Messenger, to facilitate choosing colours.

* Microsoft Passport has been replaced with Windows Live ID.

* Word wheel search within the contact list.

Windows Live Messenger uses the Mobile Status Notification Protocol (MSNP) over TCP (and optionally over HTTP to deal with proxies) to connect to the .NET Messenger Service — a service offered on port 1863 of Its current version is 14 (MSNP14), used by Windows Live Messenger and other third-party clients. MSNP14 adds Yahoo! Messenger interoperability. The protocol is not completely secret; Microsoft disclosed version 2 (MSNP2) to developers in 1999 in an Internet Draft, but never released versions 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, or 14 to the public. .NET Messenger Service servers currently only accept protocol versions from 8 and on, so the syntax of new commands from versions 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14 is only known by using sniffers like Wireshark.

As of MSN Messenger 7.0, the client offers a level of integration with Microsoft's Xbox Live Internet Gaming service. Users of MSN Messenger can go to the Xbox Website and link their gamertag to Microsoft's .NET Passport network. This will allow MSN Messenger to report the user's Xbox Live friends list, as well as allow them to send game invitations to players, so that the user does not have to be on Xbox Live in order to arrange games. This feature goes along with Microsoft's continuing goal to place integration between their various services. After December 2, 2005, Xbox Live Integration had temporarily malfunctioned. This was due to the change in hardware and protocol brought with the release of the Xbox 360. The error was soon corrected however, and full functionality is now available.

The most significant rivals of Windows Live Messenger are AIM and ICQ (both from AOL), Skype, and Jabber based clients.

For Windows and Linux users, an open source instant messaging client known as Gaim also exists. Besides MSN, it is capable of supporting other chat protocols. Many third-party multi-protocol clients are based on Gaim using the libgaim library, for example Adium and Proteus.

Yahoo! has released an IM Version which has some new features similar to those in MSN Messenger 7. Drag-and-drop photos to the messenger window is a typical example.

Also, AOL has been busy developing a new version of their AIM client, known as "Triton". The client was released in 2006 and highlights include tabbed chatting, a modernized interface, and Multi-party voice chat. It is also being completely rewritten from the ground up to support VoIP (a.k.a. IP Telephony or Internet telephony).

Recently, Google has entered the IM competition with its new Google Talk, first released as a beta version for only users with Gmail accounts. Google Talk uses open protocols, Jabber for the IM part and Jingle Audio for the voice part, and it encourages the use of clients other than their own in connecting to the Google Talk service. To further this goal, they have released an open source cross-platform library, libjingle, which can be used by other IM programs to easily implement interoperability with Google Talk.

In China, an instant messenger named QQ is predominantly used. Although used little outside of China, its domestic users number as many as 226 million. However, its popularity has recently been greatly weakened, since the entering into the Chinese market of MSN Messenger. Up to now, MSN Messenger has taken about 17 percent of the Chinese market, a figure which is becoming increasingly larger.

On October 13, 2005, Yahoo! and Microsoft announced plans to introduce interoperability between their two messengers, creating the second largest instant messenger userbase worldwide: 40 percent of all users (AIM currently holds 56 percent). The announcement comes after years of 3rd party interoperability success (most notably, Trillian, Gaim) and criticisms from Google that the major instant messengers were locking their networks. Microsoft has also had talks with AOL in an attempt to introduce further interoperability, but so far, AOL seems unwilling to participate. On July 12, 2006, Microsoft and Yahoo! released versions of their instant messaging clients that could communicate with each other.

The protocol is closed and Microsoft has made two attempts to lock out third-party clients by requiring data to be transformed by the use of hash functions when connecting. However, both algorithms have been reverse-engineered.

Winks have a digital signature, which the official client always checks. It will not play winks that are not signed by Microsoft. However, it is possible for a user to purchase a wink from Microsoft's website. Some of these winks enable the user to insert a custom image, which will be displayed when the wink is played. This makes it possible to display graphic or offensive images, to any number of people for less than $3.

Ever since Messenger has been released, it has been targeted entirely towards Windows users, leaving Mac users with a limited client. However, numerous third party applications now offer webcam, winks, and even nudging support for Mac users. One workaround for Mac users is to use aMSN client, which supports video chat.

Users of Linux have also effectively been left in the dark, requiring third party software to log in and access their profile stored on the Windows Live Messenger servers. Such third party software is usually one of many alternative instant messaging clients, such as aMSN, Gaim, Mercury or Kopete. Gaim and Kopete are included in many Linux distributions, supporting a range of other instant messaging protocols, such as the AOL, Yahoo! and ICQ clients.

Windows Live Messenger contains an advertising bar as standard, some other IM programs (Gaim, Trillian etc) do not. Although this is also reverse-engineered and deleted with a patch, critics consider the interface cluttered, with no options to edit it in an unmodified version.

When comparing with Yahoo's version of their instant messaging tool, it was noticeable that Microsoft were suspiciously one step behind in its offering of new features. Such examples are MSN Messenger's nudges being similar in concept to Yahoo's Buzzes, winks being a more primitive form of Yahoo's audibles, web messengers (that allowed IM access from a web browser), and the introductions of two-player games and avatars being later than that of Yahoo's.

Messages containing "download.php", "gallery.php", "profile.php?", ".pif" or ".scr" result in the server closing the switchboard socket and don't appear to the remote contact.

The intention of this filtering is to help prevent users from falling foul of malicious worms, which often use URLs containing the filtered text to trick users into downloading viruses or spyware. These ineffective filtering attempts can be (easily) side-stepped with redirector services, or reconfiguring web servers to not require file-extensions.Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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