In the last week I had two people inform me that their
Hotmail Outlook.com e-mail count was wrong in Messenger. This wasn’t a new situation that I’ve heard as over my 10 years of supporting Messenger this came up many times (including in my own account) and the issue simply resolved itself after a brief period. I double checked my own account and the count and subsequent mail notifications and they were working for me.
But today I’ve heard from many more people that this feature has been failing. After checking my own personal and test accounts, it’s now fully broken for me also.
From a technical perspective, the message count and notifications are completely handled by the server which then just notifies Messenger. Unfortunately this means there’s nothing that can be done to “fix” the problem as the server isn’t sending any mail notifications to the Messenger clients.
One can only hope this is a temporary problem and not due to a roll-out of a new version of Outlook.com that’s removed the feature completely.
UPDATE (April 16, 2014)
The e-mail notification feature has been fundamental to Messenger since it’s very inception. In fact Microsoft has exploited this feature for a long time — it’s been used as the basis for Hotmail mail checking in Outlook Express, Windows Live Mail, Hotmail and Outlook.com. I was thinking more about this today and wondered that with the feature gone, if Outlook.com had a new way of handling mail notifications.
So, I took two accounts and tested them. One account is a standard Hotmail account with Messenger contacts and one is the same but linked to a Skype account. The normal Hotmail account signed into the web-based Messenger client fine as normal, but was not able to receive any new e-mails until I manually pressed the refresh button. However, the account that’s been linked to Skype was able to receive mail notifications and immediately refreshed. I can only summarize e-mail notifications have been moved over to Skype, although they don’t yet appear in the current versions of the software.
Just to be clear, linking your Microsoft account to a Skype account will not magically restore your e-mail notifications in Messenger. (Doing so will restore automatic receiving of mail while in Outlook.com however.) What it does mean is that some time in the future, the Skype desktop application will be able to notify you to new e-mail and that the notification feature has probably been removed for good in Messenger.
This month’s Update Tuesday brought an early Christmas gift to those who want to use Messenger 2011 or 2012 on Windows 8.1.
Prior to this update being available, when you tried to sign in, you would receive error code 80090004. After the fix is installed, you will be able to sign in as normal.
The update is contained in the 8.1 December’s rollup update (KB2903939), which contains 18 fixes including KB2906900 (Error “0×80090004 (NTE_BAD_LEN)” occurs when you try to sign in to Windows Live Messenger).
Although I quickly managed to write some code to automatically check, download and install the update on machines that need it, it will be a few days before I think it’s ready. In the meantime, I have withdrawn the version of Messenger Reviver which blocked Messenger 2011/2012 installations on 8.1 and you will just need to manually update Windows 8.1 if Windows isn’t updated automatically.
A special thanks to user Chooky who was the first to notice the update!
I was rather pleased when I discovered that Outlook.com had a server-side message history last August. It’s quite handy at times to have conversations stored elsewhere without having to deal with Remote Desktop, add-ons and other trickery to do the same thing.
But today, I received an email from the Outlook.com Team with the following information:
We’re contacting you because we are making a change to the messaging history feature in Outlook.com.
Whenever you chat using Outlook.com whether it’s through Facebook, Google Talk, or Messenger, a copy of your chat is saved in the Messaging history folder. As part of adding Skype to Outlook.com, the Messaging history folder will be removed sometime this fall.
So there’s no actual cut-off date, just “sometime this fall” and my saved conversations will just disappear?
If you want to keep a record of your chats, you’ll need to move them to another folder. To move your message history:
1. In Outlook.com, right-click Folders, and then click Add a new folder.
2. Enter a name for the folder and press the Enter key.
3. Click Messaging history, and then click the check box at the very top of your message list.
4. Click Select everything.
5. Right-click any message and then click Move.
6. Select the folder you want to move your messages to, and then click Move.
I completed this process and it took nearly 10 clicks, plus some typing. This doesn’t sound like a lot, but why do I have to do this manually? At the very least, why couldn’t it be as simple as one button to ‘Save your data’? And Since there is no actual date, I’ll have to continue to do this process periodically until it disappears as not to lose anything from now on.
After the Messaging history folder is removed, a history of your Skype, Google Talk, and Facebook chat sessions can be found in the Messaging pane.
After the Messaging history folder is removed, the chat sessions will be found in the messaging pane? Are they referring to the ones I just moved to a folder of my own choosing? Does this mean they’ll be in both locations? It’s really not clear.
For me, this is just another example of how Microsoft continues to fail their customers. According to news reports, Skype support in Outlook.com has been rolling out in preview form for four months and was was first talked about nearly a year ago. Was this not an issue before in their rollout? I understand why they might want to discontinue the feature since Messenger is officially on its way out, but why remove the existing conversations? And finally, do they truly believe my conversations have no value to me that I wouldn’t want them archived automatically?
Since Monday of this week the Messenger service has been experiencing outages with signing in. If you’re using Windows Live Messenger after using Reviver and you encounter this problem, you’ll see error 800488fe during the sign in process. Third-party clients like Pidgin (libpurple), bitlbee and others have also been experiencing these problems and will have similar cryptic error messages.
I have seen a number of people attempt to explain the outage with explanations of the problem only affecting custom domains, age of account, or your current location but none of these have proven to be consistent and seem to be inaccurate.
Fixing the error
Although the error is a server issue, some people have reported that their account started working again after signing in and out of Outlook.com (Hotmail), so that may be worth trying. However in all accounts that I personally have been affected with, I simply waited for a while and trying again later has worked every single time.
Hopefully these server issues will be resolved soon.
|Download Messenger Reviver 2|
E-mail message count and notifications broken
As of April 15, 2014, it seems the e-mail message count and mail notifications have been broken globally. This is a server problem and cannot be fixed by Reviver. It is unknown at this time if the problem will be fixed. For more information, see the E-mail message count and notifications broken post.
How to use Messenger on Windows 8.1
The out-of-box installation of Windows 8.1 breaks both Windows Live Messenger 2011 and 2012 by modifying how the encryption component of Windows works. If you see this problem, you will receive a 80090004 error when you sign in. This issue was fixed in Windows Update KB2903939, which will need to be installed to use Messenger 2011/2012 on Windows 8.1. An upcoming version of Reviver will automatically check and install this update for you.
Messenger Reviver 2 automatically installs, repairs and/or modifies Windows Live Messenger 2012, 2011, 2009, and 2008 as well as Windows Messenger to continue signing in despite being blocked by Microsoft.
Reviver 2 supports modifying all language versions and can automatically install either 2009 or 2011/2012 versions in 47 different languages.
You will receive one of the following messages if you’re being forced to upgrade to Skype:
A newer version is available. You must install the newer version in order to continue. Would you like to do this now?
A newer version has been downloaded and is available. You must install this newer version in order to continue. Would you like to do this now?
To bypass the forced upgrade, download my Messenger Reviver 2 utility and run the application. As this requires changes to Messenger you may receive a message asking you to allow Reviver to make changes to your computer.
Reviver will automatically attempt to detect if Messenger is still installed, which versions are eligible for modification and if you need to run a repair or new installation to bring Messenger back (if Skype has removed it).
Also available: zipped version if you’re being blocked by security software
Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1
.NET Framework 2.0 or higher (included with Windows Vista or newer), .NET 3.5 or 4.0 recommended
To revive Messenger, click Start and the process will automatically modify Messenger and restart it.
If Windows Live Essentials is not installed, you will presented with options to either install Messenger 2009 or 2012 in the language of your choosing. Reviver will attempt to guess which language you prefer based on your prior Windows and Essentials language settings.
Additionally if Essentials is still installed, but Skype has removed it, you will be offered to just repair your Essentials install.
As Messenger Reviver 2 will probably be my last exclusive Messenger project, I have added a few small Easter eggs into the application for fun.
Animated MSN butterfly
When you open Reviver, you’ll find an animated MSN butterfly in the main window. This is the original butterfly that flew around from MSN Messenger 5.0. Based on highly advanced software engineering, the butterfly will fly around, flaps its wings or just sit quietly. If you click the butterfly when it’s not busy, it will react accordingly.
If you click the About button, you’ll find the original Messenger signing in spinning animation in the top-left hand corner.
The MSN sound
Back in 1996, MSN had a sound they used for their advertising which accompanied the various letters of M-S-N. I was fairly fond of it, and I’ve included it in Reviver. Single-click the above mentioned spinner to initiate the sound and watch the letters light up.
There’s one more small addition, but I’ll let you find that one yourself :)
If you need help…
Please leave a comment here, visit the live chat, the forum, or contact me directly.
Using Windows 8.1? For the time being, you will need to make sure your Windows installation is up-to-date and that KB2903939 is installed. See the top notice.
Messenger server problems
Occasionally the Messenger servers have been experiencing problems signing in. You may need to sign in at www.outlook.com and then try again. It may also take multiple tries to sign in. (This also affects you if you’re using Skype.) This should be resolved now as the issue hasn’t been seen recently.
|Apr 16 2014||220.127.116.11||
|Feb 19 2014||18.104.22.168||
|May 13 2013||22.214.171.124||
|May 07 2013||126.96.36.199||
|May 04 2013||188.8.131.52||
|Apr 25 2013||184.108.40.206||
|Apr 25 2013||220.127.116.11||
|Apr 24 2013||18.104.22.168||
|Apr 23 2013||22.214.171.124||
Despite Microsoft’s constant urging over the past few months that Messenger would not be accessible after April 8th, the desktop clients continue to work one week later.
Of course the honest truth is that Microsoft has indicated that the “retirement” would begin April 8th for “English-speaking countries” and should finish by April 30th with Brazilian Portuguese users being last.
So, let’s put this information to the test to see how they’re doing. As I’ve been supporting Messenger for 12 years, somewhere down the line I started creating accounts with the various locales so I could understand the different country-specific features I was being asked about. Therefore I already have most of the accounts already created and luckily been in existence for a quite a few years. Additionally, (thanks to some friends) I also have the opportunity to test my accounts from several of the different countries so they can be tested from a local IP. For the purposes of this experiment, I will use Windows Live Messenger 2012 (16.4.3505.0912) on Windows 7 SP1 64-bit.
UPDATE (April 23, 2013): Microsoft suddenly blocked all the accounts at once. I guess they didn’t bother with their announced rolled out server changes. To bypass the block and continue to use Messenger, use my Messenger Reviver 2 tool.
UPDATE (April 24, 2013): Spoke too soon, apparently some accounts are still active, just not any of mine. However, they’re all around the world and not limited to a specific country. This is the typical way they’ve done forced updates by not doing all servers at once.
UPDATE (April 25, 2013): Apparently they’ve overloaded Skype with Messenger logins…
|Country registered||Old/New account||Messenger accessible from Canadian IP||Messenger accessible from local country’s IP|
Based on this test data and that none of my contacts elsewhere in the world (in countries not tested above) have experienced a block, I conclude that Microsoft has not even begun the process. Considering the original date of this “retirement” was March 14th, it seems that the date is being delayed even further.
If you believe your account is being forced to upgrade to Skype:
Messenger love still great
A friend of mine discovered the following on Friday. It sure seems there’s plenty of Messenger love around!
One of the many things I’ve wanted to do for a long time is have a related live chat for this blog, and now I do.
You can get there by following the Live Chat link, located on the top of every page. The chat is hosted on the tawx IRC network (irc.tawx.net), channel #messenger, so you can also use your own IRC client. No sign up or registration is required, just fill in an optional nickname and choose the Connect button.
If you’re looking for me, you’ll see my nickname TReKiE denoted by a icon.
Come by and say hello!
As you probably have received via e-mail prior to reading this, Microsoft has finally decided on the date its shutting down Messenger –
March 15, 2013. UPDATE: Actually they’ve decided it’ll be April 8th now to start, completing by April 30th.
Besides including the date, the verbiage of the e-mail has changed slightly from earlier announcements as it now distinctly says the “Messenger service globally”, although again excludes mainland China.
However, the small FAQ at the end of the mail distinctly says “Messenger users on desktops” and that mobile Messenger versions will continue to work for “a while”.
So although we now know the date,
the exact details are still a mystery.
UPDATE: On http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/live/default.aspx some details have finally been posted:
We recently announced that we’ll begin to encourage Messenger users to start using Skype. As a result, the Messenger developer program will end. Existing implementations that use Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP) will continue to work until October 2013. Existing implementations that use MSP will continue to work until March 2014. For support for existing XMPP implementations, please visit our Forums page.
What’s probably most important here is that existing Messenger software (Pidgin, Adium, Bitlbee, et al) will continue to work until March 2014. With that known, it certainly should be possible to modify the desktop clients to work until that date.
As was originally reported yesterday, it was confirmed today on both the Skype Blog and Inside Windows Live blog that the “Windows Live Messenger client would be “retired” worldwide (except for China).
The real question is what does that actually mean in practice? The answer: I don’t really know, but I have some guesses.
As most of you reading this are already aware, Microsoft has retired clients (and subsequent protocol versions) before. The most recent being the 2009 client, which of course you can still sign in with some modification. My suspicion is that, at least initially, the transition will be implemented like a forced upgrade but instead of demanding to install to a newer Messenger version, it would “upgrade” to the latest Skype version instead. With that in mind, I would postulate that the service itself would continue to exist (especially given China will still be using it), just only officially usable using the Skype client and other clients would just continue working.
As the .NET Messenger or “MSN” service is a top-tier instant messaging service on the Internet, there are thousands of third-party clients and libraries for just about every platform conceivable, mobile applications (both for dumb and smartphones, some with telecommunication companies charging a monthly fee for usage), various gateways, integration with Yahoo Messenger, Lync IM Federation access, bots, and many other projects and services. Skype is a closed system with only a handful of third-parties having any sort of support, and most (or all) are using either the Skype client itself or SkypeKit in the background. Are we really to believe all this Messenger support will disappear into the abyss in under six months with no replacement? Even MSN Direct had over a year warning before it was shut down.
Further, there’s also multiple connection methods to Messenger, both through their own protocol, HTTP access and more recently, XMPP. Would they all be blocked or would some keep operating? Involving the latter, will the built-in “Messaging” in Windows 8 and Windows Phone cease to operate?
I’m also not clear on what this will mean for ad contracts for Messenger or “official support” for older versions of Live Essentials still shipping with PCs in the store today. Advertising in Skype so far has been pretty minimal, but I expect that will change quick.
If you haven’t used Skype for instant messaging before, it does have some fairly unique features such as message editing, full message history with synchronization with multiple computers and devices, copy/paste of messages containing a proper timestamp and source (this is more useful than it sounds), word notification(s), and of course the features you already know about (voice, video, group chats, sharing of screens via video, etc.).
What it doesn’t have: animated display pictures, custom emoticons, font colours, standardized format to access the chat history (ie. something you can access outside of Skype), winks, nudges, voice clips, scenes, a third-party scripting platform* (like Messenger Plus scripts/plugins), idle status indication, Hotmail/Outlook.com support/indicator, requests for remote assistance, free SMS, games, photo sharing, et al. Basically you’re starting from scratch on a new client.
One thing I’m quite concerned about is how they plan on upgrading people to this new Skype world. Although I think some people will be able to cope with the interface (and icon) change, there’s plenty of examples of those who have kept important photos in their display pictures store, those custom emoticons they’ve been using off and on for five years, and the random minesweeper flags game will all just disappear over night. Given the past history on forcing updates on a whim, I really hope they make an effort to make this more smooth and less painful.
What this means for this blog
Assuming there’s still a service to connect to, hopefully myself or others can get Messenger operating again once Microsoft starts forcing Skype upon the masses. Personally, besides my old and in need of an update (but still useful) Skype Call Button, I’ve been working on some other Skype-related software for the past six months that hopefully I’ll be releasing here soon to better ease some of the annoying quirks of the current Skype client. It’s my goal to continue and perhaps expand on what I’ve been doing for Messenger for the past 11 years on Skype, but we’ll have to see how things go.
*Skype has an API of its own. Unfortunately when you use it to access conversations, it has a really nasty bug.
This isn’t a post about Messenger, so feel free to skip this post if you’re browsing for Messenger support information or otherwise aren’t interested in yet another person’s rant about their wireless carrier.
In the beginning
It was 1998. I was 16 and just entering Grade 11. My birthday is in September and there was only one thing I wanted – a cell phone. So my loving parents excitedly took me to the mall on my birthday and they pointed to the Rogers and Bell stores (the only two main networks here at the time) standing side-by-side and asked which one I wanted to enter. I chose Rogers. Entering the store I quickly discovered the phone I had read about and wanted, a Motorola StarTAC. With my first contract (co)signed, I walked out, the happiest boy in the world.
At that time in high school, no one had a cell phone or even had a reason to have one. Text messaging was in its infancy and that particular StarTAC could only receive messages anyway. Some people thought I had “upgraded” my pager (I didn’t have a pager; it was actually the first Rio mp3 player). So generally I used the phone to call my mom on the way home from school and talk about my day. The plan cost just over $30, and I paid for it myself using the funds from my school library job.
Fast-forwarding through time, space, many retail phones and a few different plans (sans contracts), I ended up in 2009 with an ancient plan and an ancient phone. Android was just entering the market and I thought I would see if I could get an HTC Dream (also known as the T-Mobile G1) as well as upgrade to a more modern plan. The representative at Rogers I spoke to on the phone was more than happy to assist and casually offered to add several discounts for being such a loyal customer. I ended up with a bill totaling $47 a month for a standard three year contract and was quite pleased.
For my $47, that included 100 anytime minutes, 1000 minutes on the weekend and weekdays, the standard 2500 text messaging plan and 500MB of data. Usage-wise for the three years, I barely scratched any minutes, maybe 100 or so text messages, and usually ~100MB of data.
Unfortunately the Dream in Canada ended up being a problem for Rogers as they had promised Android upgrades which never came. After a campaign, they subsequently offered a free HTC Magic to Dream customers. So when the Dream’s battery decided to become nearly useless, I switched to the Magic at the beginning of last year. However with that choice my device problems began (see Magic Problems below for details on the issues if you’re curious).
This past week I was given a call by Rogers promotions, trying to sell me on a phone upgrade. The representative gave me what sounded like the same pricing presented on the web site, but I elected to wait as I needed to see where my plan would stand in terms of discounts and contract term.
Today I called Rogers myself. Initially a professional and friendly representative took my call, I told him some of my concerns and he explained that my three-year discounts were actually ending today (that information is not listed on the web site). He then explained that he would transfer me to another rep to discuss my options going forward.
If you’re not aware, for a good chunk of my life, I have been doing some sort of customer support in some fashion – from various internet startups to being a Microsoft MVP (helping people with their Messenger problems) for 13 years. I know from personal experience that customer service people get treated terribly and therefore I try to be as helpful, thorough and courteous as possible.
The rep answered and I started to explain to her my story. She interrupted me, and repeated me what points the previous rep had written in my file. I had casually stated to the previous rep that I knew I had other options available to me, like another network offering $29 plans currently advertised everywhere, and she then went on to tell me how bad that network was and how it couldn’t meet my needs.
After more conversation she asked me, “Well what are you expecting from us?” I replied, “Well what I’ve had for the past three years would be nice.” She then told me that was “impossible”, as that plan and offers were too old and there was no room for discounts or flexibility even for a customer of 14 years. After listening to some more typing, she said the best she could do was a $62 plan with half the data I have now including a whole $5 discount.
She then wanted to talk new phones. I indicated to her that the Galaxy S3 seemed like an upgrade that would hopefully last for a good three year term since both the Dream and Magic didn’t cut it, and told me the best she could do would be a “$62 plan compatible with an S3”. Hearing that, I asked if there was other plans that would be compatible with some other phone. She said they were all the same, unless you wanted a blackberry.
At this point she asked me why I wanted the S3. I tried to explain to her the specifics of the problems with my Magic and she interrupted me to tell me that she wasn’t interested in that, she wanted to know what features I wanted. Apparently my current problems and previous choices are not relevant to my decision? I continued to try to explain what I was thinking and again interrupted me to tell me that it wasn’t relevant to the conversation.
Next she went on to talk about the other phone options and with not wanting to dare interject, just listened. She finished by informing me that she could offer me a $67 plan with 6GB of data. I politely declined as I made it clear that I wanted to continue with what I had and with my low usage patterns, it made absolutely no logical sense to start paying for more of what I’ll never use.
At this point I felt dejected and she pushed more on the phone upgrade. I declined and she said she would note my account if I changed my mind. Disheartened, I went for a walk to clear my head and think about what just happened.
I’m turning 30 years old this coming Sunday and in all this time I don’t think I’ve suffered such poor customer service. There was no heated conversation and nothing specifically improper was said but I found it completely unacceptable that I was cut off repeatedly when I was trying to explain my situation and even more improper for her to attempt to up-sell when I made it clear that the purpose of my call was to try to maintain what I had, especially when other options are cheaper.
After a bit of reflection, my conclusion is that Rogers does not value me as a customer. Despite most certainly being a profitable customer (low usage on my plan, one call to customer service in three years) they have taken the position that you either pay more or don’t bother to be a customer.
Apparently what’s been forgotten with this stance is like most Canadian households, this isn’t the only Rogers account. In fact we have Rogers cable television, cable internet and another cell phone (my sister’s account, which I manage for her). These other services cost more and are even easier to switch to better and cheaper alternatives. You can guess what my first action after my birthday will be.
I’m not looking for a free lunch. However I do expect some sort of acknowledgement of long-term loyalty and proper customer service from a corporate company which I’ve been paying for such a long time.
At this point I do wish my 16-year old self would’ve chose Bell.
So what makes the HTC Magic, the last device Rogers gave to me, terrible? If you’re interested, let me share with you some of the issues – all of these are out-of-box with a hardware reset, nothing additional downloaded or installed and a freshly formatted MicroSD card.
The Magic (like the Dream) likes to randomly reboot. Unlike the Dream however, the Magic rarely completes a full reboot on the first attempt. It gets past the Rogers logo, then the HTC logo, then the Android interface begins to load and it reboots again. And again. And again. In fact it will continue this loop until you take the battery out and start all over. Unfortunately sometimes you have to repeat this pull-out battery process several times as it will continue to cycle again.
Although randomly triggered at times, you can guarantee after several minutes of usage of Google Maps (the version out of the box), the device will start to become very very very slow. I define slow as in taking several minutes to respond to any sort of touch or button press. Turning the device off and back on does not help, the only way to get back to normal operating speed is to take the battery out and start all over. Of course the previously mentioned reboot cycle comes into play and it takes several more pull-out battery attempts.
A handoff is when you move from cell to cell in the network. On the Magic, there seems to be an issue with handoffs as calls and data connections regularly get dropped just from walking down the street. Note: this happens everywhere, even driving down the 401 (as a passenger). The reception bars hit zero for a good ten seconds and then jump back as presumably the phone connects to another cell.
Sadly, the only usable decently-performing music application I’ve found is the basic one that came with the phone. Sadly the Magic itself does not come with a headphone jack, so a dongle is required. I have a few of these (including the one that came in the box) and they all suffer from the same problem – when you’re walking, biking or otherwise moving, the dongle creeps out of the MiniUSB socket which instantly stops the music. It’s been a long time I went for a walk with music playing where I didn’t have to reach down into my pocket and hit the Play button at least several times.
Locked but not
If the device is busy (for example, playing Music) and you turn the screen off to lock the device, but then touch the screen afterwards, the screen usually comes back on – unlocked. I suspect this occurs because the operating system is too slow in receiving the button message and hasn’t had an opportunity to lock the device. After continually finding the phone pocket dialing (among other functions) on its own in my pocket, I generally check it each time to make sure it truly is locked before pocketing it.
Unlike my Dream’s marvelous hardware keyboard, the Magic included the software keyboard from Android 2.1. It can work all right, but is quite a frustrating experience. For a period I used Swype, which worked slightly better for input. Unfortunately Swype stopped being supported on the Magic and as a limited-time beta, stopped working. More recently I purchased SwiftKey, mainly because of its intelligence in understanding what I’m trying to type, despite being three or four words behind (due to the poor performance). Corrections can be a real challenge however.
I’m not big on most “apps”, but I would like to make use of the latest Google Maps or have a nice music player. Unfortunately Android 2.1 is no longer generally supported and there’s no hope of an official software upgrade.
I do realize anyone reading this far is probably preparing their “just root the phone” or “install this ROM and it will help negate some of your problems”. Obviously I’ve been avoiding this as I foolishly figured I would keep my Rogers “support”. Additionally, you have to bypass a mandatory E911 update that if not installed, disables your data, making the process more unusual. However, if I’m going to be using another network, that might be a moot point.