Category Archives: Messenger

The New Skype

Exactly two weeks since the last Messenger server twinkled out of existence comes the announcement of “New Skype“.  See Skype’s promotional video below:
At present, this is only an announcement and the software has not yet been released.  However from what is shown in the video, I have a few questions, observations and opinions already.Are there any (MSN or Windows Live) Messenger features?I generally evaluate new messaging clients by comparing them against Messenger’s standard set of features.  Based on what we know so far, I don’t see any sign of New Skype of backgrounds, custom emoticons, custom fonts, nudge, status (presence), or voiceclips.

New Skype Conversation

Background colours with gradients in New Skype

It does appear you can set a background colour (and gradient!) for the text of an individual message reminiscent of the background colour functions in the modern versions of Messenger Plus!.  However, it’s not entirely clear if this feature expands to allowing you to change the colour of the actual text.  In the screenshots, a background colour swapped the font colour from black to white.

 

Winks (called Stickers) do exist in New Skype and are animated, as well as the normal expected GIF support and Skype’s own “Mojis”.New Skype appears to have a Snapchat stories-like Highlights feature for material you want to share with all your contacts for a seven-day period.  Of course, this stories feature is the latest variant of what was once Messenger 2009’s “What’s new?” pane as well as 2011/2012’s social pane.Will all the problems be fixed?

Although I haven’t had a lot of exposure time to the iOS version of Skype, I have had quite a lot of time with the Android version and its whole slew of reliability and performance problems.  From time to time, I’ve resorted to uninstalling Skype on my phone because of weird glitchy behaviour that has made the phone unusable or drained the battery.  I do hope a lot of these issues have been ironed out since they’ve taken steps to drastically change the client.  Additionally, Skype recently ranked as using the most mobile data in comparison to other mobile messaging clients, and hopefully that has also been improved.

Why so much white?

Everyone I have shown the promo video to has had the same immediate reaction I did – there’s just way too much white space.

Old vs New Skype

Old Skype vs New Skype

It reminds me of Office 2013’s attempt at white everywhere in its default theme, which was also unpleasant

 

Particularly on phones, I can’t think of anyone who wants to be blinded by a mobile screen first thing in the morning or replying to a message late at night in the dark.

Although I would prefer a dark background option, I rather like the look of the current mobile Skype.  It retains the classic Skype colour and fits in with whatever native operating system it’s on.

Will it be compatible with current Skype?

I would assume yes, but it’s not explicitly mentioned anywhere.  I find it a bit weird that I would have to consider such a question, but Yahoo! had no qualms in completely eliminating its existing Yahoo! Messenger service/contact lists last year in favour of the “new Yahoo! Messenger”.

What about the desktop version?

As part of the announcement is Windows and Mac versions.  I do wonder if the Windows version will be yet another variant of Skype.  At present, there are two Skype Windows versions – the classic Win32 version you download from the website and the new Universal Windows version (excluding Skype for Business versions as that operates on local servers or Office 365).  At the very least, I would assume New Skype to also be written for the Universal Windows Platform (UWP).

I use the Win32 version of Skype, primarily because it does have a (albeit limited) API that ties in with my headset’s software, notifying the headset base of calls, allowing a button on the headset to answer calls and an LED to let others around me know I’m in a call with someone. On top of that, the Win32 version provides a local message history spanning all the way back to my first main use of Skype, I can log into multiple accounts at once and particularly important, my taskbar icon for Skype lights up when I get a message (a feature not available in Universal Windows applications at present).

I don’t think any of the features in New Skype would be compelling enough to lose such valuable features from the classic version of Skype.

Final thoughts

Overall, this update appears to be an attempt to “keep up” with the other modern messaging services today and less about trying anything particularly new or interesting.  When the New Skype does get released in some form, I’ll do another comparison.

For now though my advice to the Skype team is simple, please, please, please provide a dark theme option.

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Messenger Reviver 2 Discontinued

It is with a heavy heart that I announce that Messenger Reviver 2 has come to an end. reviver2.png

On May 18th, 2017 Microsoft shut down the last Messenger server, preventing Windows Live Messenger from being revived any further.

MSN Messenger first came online July 22, 1999 making public access to the servers available for a total of 17 years, 9 months and 27 days.  In the 2000s, Messenger dominated the instant messaging world, being used for text, voice, video, remote assistance, game invitations, and enjoyed both for business and personal use.  Massive communities and long-lasting relationships were formed around all around the world on Messenger-related websites and tools like mess.be and Messenger Plus!  Even today, despite hundreds of new messaging applications, still no client has yet to match the features and customization options of Windows Live Messenger.

Jonathan and Kurt

Messenger MVPs – Jonathan and Kurt Robaer at Microsoft, 2007

I originally got involved with the Messenger community back in 2001 as part of the Windows XP beta “Associate Experts” program, and quickly became a Microsoft MVP for Messenger, a position I held for over 10 years.  After Messenger officially “shut down”, I released Reviver to continue making Messenger connect to the Microsoft servers, and that has continued for over four years, with 98 versions of changes and fixes.  The original versions of Reviver only required a small adjustment to Messenger itself, but later on DNS servers, proxy servers and even modifications to Windows itself were needed to keep Messenger working.  I also expanded into versions on OS X/MacOS for Messenger:Mac and Adium, as well as aMSN.  It’s been quite a ride!

Previously, I have not taken donations for my work but as this is the end of the Messenger Reviver 2 chapter, I feel comfortable now putting out my PayPal tip jar for any who feels Reviver has been useful to them over the years.paypalme
Back in 2015 when it first appeared that the Messenger servers might not be available for much longer, I recorded a video of myself going through all the available versions of Messenger discussing and comparing the various features as well as telling some stories about the software.  I present it to you below or you can watch it on YouTube:

Although you can no longer use Messenger with the public Microsoft servers, you can continue using the older versions of Messenger on a new private server called Escargot.  You can find contacts to add on this forum topic.

This blog, forum and chat will continue operating, so please stay subscribed for news and discussion on Escargot and other Messenger related topics.

You have a several options to continue to communicate to your contacts on what was formerly known as the .NET Messenger network.  Of course, you can use Skype, but also Miranda-NG, Pidgin with EionRobb’s, SkypeWeb plugin, or SkypeWeb with other libpurple-compatible clients like Bitlbee.  You can also use the web-versions of Skype at https://web.skype.com or on https://outlook.com.

MessengerReviver_2017-05-19_22-41-38A final version of Messenger Reviver 2 is now available that you can download as a memento which retains all the original features you can explore or even just open it up to play around with the Easter eggs.

If you have looked at the Reviver About screen previously, you would have seen many important people who made Reviver possible when it was first released.  For the final release, I’ve also added the people who have been vital over the years I have been supporting and working on Reviver, and I would like to thank them here too: Emil, John, Tasos, Dean, Petri, Jeff, Mariano, Esteban, Peri, Alexis, dx, Jacko, Javier, and Raul, thank you for your friendship, endless discussions about Messenger, many late nights and supporting me and my projects.

Patchou and I

Jonathan and Patchou in 2006

Additionally, I would like to thank Patchou for creating Messenger Plus! Plus! was the cornerstone of the Messenger community for many years, indispensable for adding missing vital Messenger features and responsible for many relationships and careers for so many people.  Furthermore, I’d like to thank wtbw for always being available for reverse engineering assistance and pointers.

Thanks to Valtron for building the new private Messenger server and giving Messenger continued life.

Finally, a special thanks to all of you who have been users of Messenger Reviver 2 for so long.  You have made this journey a great and memorable part of my life and I greatly appreciate all the kind words and support over the years. Please stay in touch!  You can reach me on the new Escargot server by adding the user trekie@jonathankay.com, on Skype by adding trekie, my website, the forum, or here on this blog.

I think it’s appropriate to end with my favourite wink, the UFO, which can be both a hello and a goodbye.

signature
Jonathan Kay

butterfly-and-i-smaller

Hello there, MSN butterfly!

Messenger presently offline

At approximately 15:45 UTC, the Messenger bn2 servers have stopped responding.  Investigations are still underway but you will be unable to connect.

You will receive the following possible error codes: 80072efd, 81000306 and 80072efd 81000301.

If you are still signed in, do not sign out or you will not be able to sign in again at the moment.

EDIT: Scanning through IP ranges hasn’t found a suitable replacement, Butterfly Messenger and the Windows 8.0 client do not appear to be working either.  Skype is still working.

EDIT 2: Also of note, if Messenger cannot be restored, all focus will shift towards the Escargot server and continuing its development. Visit the forum for discussion and contacts to add.

EDIT 3: After more scanning and hoping, there’s no sign of the public Messenger server.  Unfortunately this means, Messenger Reviver 2 support will have to end.  If you haven’t already done so, please read my final Reviver 2 post as I’ve tried my best to pay tribute to a great messaging client and service.

Happy fourth anniversary Messenger Reviver 2!

What a dizzying four years, but Messenger is still (mostly) usable. Unfortunately more features such as groups (with a workaround) have stopped working, and conversion to Office 365 on Hotmail has caused a multitude of contact list issues, even for Skype-based Messenger users.

In case you haven’t been watching the forum, recently the ever awesome valtron has put up a Messenger Protocol server for older versions of Messenger as the Microsoft server stopped accepting older clients back in 2015. Give it a try!

Happy Anniversary! Birthday_cake

Messenger and the Windows Essentials installers removed from Microsoft servers

At what is no surprise to anyone, the Windows Essentials have disappeared from the Microsoft servers.

I did prepare for this situation for Reviver use and the Essentials installer files have been saved.  However, this does mean that installing Messenger for the time being will now be a larger download at 100MB.

Additionally, not all the languages will be available for the next few hours, if there is one you are in need of right now, please let me know in the comments and I’ll move it up in queue. All languages are now available. 

Signing out of the Skype app on Windows 10 Anniversary Update

If you use Windows 10, no doubt you have updated to the Anniversary Update (Version 1607, build 14393) which has a built-in Skype app called Skype Preview.

After using Reviver to revive Messenger on the new version of Windows, you may notice that Messenger will tell you you’re signed into multiple locations with the same device name.

Messenger status menu with two locations

This will happen if you use your Microsoft account to sign into Windows and the Skype app will automatically make use of your Microsoft account to sign you into the .NET Messenger network.

The biggest problem with this is that you’ll remain signed into Messenger, even if you’re signed out of Messenger or your computer is off as the Skype app operates on the Microsoft servers.  Additionally, even if you use Messenger to force the Skype app to sign out, the app will eventually sign you back in again on its own.

Thankfully you can choose to sign out of the Skype app and use the real Messenger client exclusively.  To do so, just head over to the Start menu and click on the Skype Preview tile (or find it on the applications list under S).

Windows 10 Start Menu with Skype Preview tile highlighted

When the Skype app opens, choose the hamburger menu button in the top corner and then choose your name at the bottom.

Skype app menu with options listed

You’ll then find a Sign out link under your name and info, clicking on the link should sign you out and then close the Skype app automatically.

Sign out link in Skype App

Now you’ll only be signed into one location.

Messenger status menu with one location

Signing out of the Skype app has been maintained through the insider builds, so you should hopefully only need to do this once.  You can always start the Skype app and sign in again if you would like to try the app at a later time.

 

Happy third anniversary Messenger Reviver 2!

Happy Anniversary

It was on this day, three years ago, that Messenger sign-ins started being blocked by the official Messenger client and three years ago that Messenger Reviver 2 was released.

Although we’ve lost some features over time, access to versions prior to 2009 and unfortunately most of the third-party clients haven’t kept up with the required changes, you can still use Windows Live Messenger today.

Thank you for your support!

Recent Messenger outages

UPDATE (2016-02-12): After more investigation, it seems the DNS reported in some regions (especially in Europe) will connect you to servers that are no longer operating.  Reviver has been updated to fix this issue.  If you are having this problem, please revive Messenger again using Messenger Reviver 2.4.7.

msnmsgr_2016-02-11_22-24-59

In the last 24-36 hours, a handful of users have been reporting infrequent outages resulting in error code 80072efd (can’t connect to the server).  Waiting a few minutes and just trying again usually will remedy the problem.

Four days ago it was reported on the forum that all the bn1 category servers had disappeared, but the actual connectivity problems with Messenger were not reported until several days later.

So far I have not seen the issue on any of my accounts and therefore have not yet been able to properly investigate the situation. However, at the moment my best guess is that the servers are being reorganized in some way and when you get the error message, you’ve been redirected to a server that is no longer operating. At the end of 2014, the same problem occurred when some of the servers started to phase out direct MSNP and HTTP access.  However, I think this might a bit of a different situation.

Although it may or may not be related, during the same time period I have also seen some disconnections with Skype causing it to sign out completely, which usually mean the server has signed me out automatically.  These sign outs might indicate that Skype’s infrastructure is also being changed too.

Unfortunately the inner-workings of the Messenger servers have never been completely fully known, so we’ll have to continue monitoring to see what happens.

Messenger Reviver 2 temporary download

Update:
Both Google and Microsoft unblocked the original Reviver links from their respective browser detection engines within 12 and 3 hours respectfully.

Although frustrating for the need to continually stay on top of these false positives, I do applaud them both for being quick and relatively painless to resolve the situation.

I have returned all the links, with the exception of this page, to the originals.


 

Here is a temporary link to download Messenger Reviver 2

Download Messenger Reviver 2

It seems someone doesn’t like the idea of Messenger Reviver and has reported all my links as malware.

2015-12-16_16-07-24

I suspect this may be related to McAfee being slow about removing a recent false positive.  Having these false positives removed takes up time in my life every week, but the antivirus vendors have always removed Reviver without question, although naturally they take their time about doing it.

I find the best way to check software (including Messenger Reviver) is to use virustotal.com.  The current analysis reveals that almost every vendor agrees it’s clean.

In the past, I have had infrequent threatening comments directed at me, specifically from those who trust their antivirus software without question and claim that I am harming their computer.  I have had my registrar falsely accuse of me of distributing malware, giving me a 24 hour warning to “remove it” or risk losing my entire account.  In all instances in these situations, after reviewing the real facts, these people stand down.

Ignoring anything else, just thinking logically, why would I, someone who has been assisting people with Messenger problems for for nearly 15 years, run a blog for 10 years, with comments, forum, live chat on a variety Messenger related topics, only to trick a few people into installing malware now.  Why would I ruin my reputation like that?  It just doesn’t make any sense.

Messenger Reviver does not do anything other than what it says it does.  It does not report any statistical data or personal data about yourself or your computer, it does not install anything other than Messenger, it does not contain ads, or contain any income-generating mechanism.  Messenger Reviver loses me time and money and it is simply a work of love.

Which is exactly why the icon for Reviver is Messenger with a heart.
reviver2.png

Thanks everyone for your support.

First look at Microsoft’s new “Messenger” client

UPDATE – Oct 12, 2015: A newer version (1.10.7000.0) is now included in Windows Insider Build 10565 which you can try out yourself by joining the Windows Insider program and being in the Fast ring.  Among possible other fixes, it includes a full emoticon set and the Ctrl key doesn’t seem to be sticking.

A version of Windows 10 leaked out late last week and contained within it was the long-awaited Windows Messaging Universal app.

Supposedly written from scratch, it’s the successor to the Messaging app contained in Windows 8.0 and the Skype WinRT app previously available (since withdrawn).  The executable is still named SkypeApp.exe however.

For these keeping track, this app is labelled as version Windows Messaging 1.9.26001.0:
Windows Messaging 1.9.26001 version windowThe user interface is barren when you begin.  Messaging window blankBut soon fills up when you start conversations:Messaging with conversationsWhen sending messages, Messaging claims they’re being delivered on Skype, which is technically not accurate as I was signed in with a non-linked Skype account and speaking only to .NET Messenger contacts.  I suspect Microsoft is trying its best to blur the difference.

Messaging runs in the background separate from the user interface itself and appears as a second location in Messenger while you’re logged into Windows.  After starting it for the first time, it took a while to start working initially and during usage, regularly disconnected.  There was no indicator in the actual Messaging app when these disconnections occurred and although messages appeared in the window as being sent, they weren’t delivered until later.  UPDATE: I observed later in the Event Log that the background SkypeHost.exe process was constantly crashing.  This is most likely the cause of the disconnections observed in the client.

Emoticons are extremely limited in this version, as well as being static and non-animated.  Space bar and backspace buttons are added presumably for use on touchscreens.  You can bring up Windows’ touch keyboard and use its standard emoji though. You certainly won’t be finding any custom emoticons here.
Messaging emoticonsThe paperclip in the conversation window does not function yet, but I assume will be used for sending files when activated.

There’s an integrated search function but it seems quite limited in its results as shown as individual lines of text.  Typing your search term too quickly seems to not put the search through, although adding a space to the end seems to help:

I also encountered multiple instances where it seems the Ctrl key on the keyboard got “stuck”.  Here’s an example where I’m trying to type Jon and as Ctrl-N starts a new conversation, when I get to the letter n, it starts a new window:

This problem was reproducible on multiple machines, so I don’t believe this to be a hardware problem. At least I was able to successfully put in my name by copy/pasting it to the box.

Toast notifications for Messaging have a textbox to reply back to sending contact and although you can type in them, I’ve found they work inconsistently.
Toast

A significant problem with the notifications is that once they’re gone, there’s no little indication that you received a message. The Messaging taskbar icon does not blink and the only way you’ll know you received a message is by opening up the Action Center or the Messaging app.

I’ll note that the notifications broke on all my machines after some light usage and never seemed to worked again, even after multiple reboots.

Sending messages is a bit painful right now, as upon presssing Enter to send a message, it adds a new line to the textbox instead of just sending the message. You have to press Ctrl-Enter to actually send the message. Hopefully this will changed or be an option in later builds.

Messaging has a select option and is the first of the built-in Windows 10 apps to support select all (a feature still painfully missing in Windows 10’s Mail app).  You can select conversations to mute or delete, as well as Delete, Copy and Forward individual messages.
Messaging forwarding

When you forward the message, Messaging makes a new empty conversation with that same text and if you switch to another conversation, it will make a draft just like an e-mail client.
Draft Messaging_2015-10-08_05-29-21

I’ve connected Cortana and Mail to my Office 365 account and Messaging seems to know about that too:
Messaging Office 365 2015-10-08_05-31-15Searching the Office 365 Directory didn’t seem to work yet however.  If you push the + button in the corner, another window shows all your contacts and offers to search the Skype Directory.  This doesn’t work either as it attempts to load a “skypepage” that doesn’t exist.
Search Skype DirectoryMessaging uses a separate Skype Video app to do voice and video conversations. I wasn’t able to get it to successfully call another computer but it does appear at least try to make a connection:
Skype_Video_2015-10-08_05-42-25Unfortunately you won’t find winks, custom emoticons, display names, animated display pictures, nudging, coloured text, customization, games, voice clips, or any other of the standard Messenger features in this application.  I couldn’t find an Options screen, so there isn’t much in the way of things to tweak.

Even compared to Windows Messenger that came with Windows XP, nevermind modern instant messaging clients like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram or Kik, Messaging still has a long way to go.