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.
Attention all Windows 8.1 users
Windows 8.1 breaks both Windows Live Messenger 2011 and 2012 by modifying how a part of Windows works. If you see this problem, you will receive a 80090004 error when you sign in. However, Windows Live Messenger 2009 still works, so please use that instead. If you have 2011 or 2012 installed already, you will need to uninstall Windows Essentials from Programs and Features and then install Live Messenger 2009 from Reviver.
Attempts to correct the error has so far failed. But please note that this error is a problem with Messenger and Windows 8.1 due to Microsoft changes, not Reviver.
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 or Windows 8 (at present Windows 8.1 works on Windows Live Messenger 2009 only)
.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, or contact me directly.
Using Windows 8.1? You need to use Messenger 2009. 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.
|Sept 09 2013||188.8.131.52||
|May 13 2013||184.108.40.206||
|May 07 2013||220.127.116.11||
|May 04 2013||18.104.22.168||
|Apr 25 2013||22.214.171.124||
|Apr 25 2013||126.96.36.199||
|Apr 24 2013||188.8.131.52||
|Apr 23 2013||184.108.40.206||
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.