Monthly Archives: April 2014

Offline messaging broken

Offline messages in Messenger have always been stored on Hotmail (now Outlook.com), and with the e-mail count and notifications for Outlook.com in Messenger being removed recently, it was no surprise when the reports that offline messaging was no longer working.  I can sadly confirm that to be the case.

However, it’s more complicated than simply being gone.  Your offline messages can be triggered to be sent to you in Messenger… by using Skype.

If you want to try this yourself, link your Messenger Microsoft account to a Skype ID.  Then with Messenger signed in already, log into Skype using your normal Skype username (you could use your Microsoft account as well, but you don’t have to).  As soon as Skype logs in, your offline message will magically appear in Messenger.  Note this requires Messenger 2012, it does not seem to work on 2009.

Additionally, you can also see your offline messages by using Outlook.com’s web messaging feature by signing in with your Microsoft account (note that it does not need to be a Live/Hotmail address to work).

 

 

 

 

E-mail message count and notifications broken (update: probably gone for good)

In the Email Toastlast 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.

I would recommend you use the freeware tool Howard::Outlook.com/Hotmail email notifier as a replacement.  Although the default is every 5 minutes, you can set the check time to every 30 seconds, which is the minimum on any of the protocols without Exchange Activesync (supported on phones, Windows 8 Mail and Outlook 2013).

UPDATE (May 1st, 2014)
In the prior update, I mentioned how you couldn’t receive new e-mails on the Outlook.com site without Skype linked to your Microsoft account.  It seems they have fixed that problem as accounts that aren’t linked to Skype can now see messages arriving once again.  However, the Messenger e-mail notifications are still missing, giving further evidence that they won’t be back.