Windows Live Messenger …
This is a typical example of Microsoft advert-supported rubbish. My general policy is that one shouldn’t have to fight with one’s software, and while it is possible to hide the adverts by setting rad.msn.com to a spoof IP address in the hosts file, in my experience Messenger has frequent problems connecting which I am sure are deliberately linked to my hosts hack; it fights back! It also can’t show conversations in tabs by default and plugins require installation from an exe. For some reason it also takes quite a long time to sign in to the service and the default startup option is to intrude with a ‘Windows Live Today’ popup and after every update I am forced to check that my home page hasn’t been set to msn.com behind my back. It also generally crashes fairly often leaving the user frustrated and in general is a serious case of Microsoft ad-supported eyesore.
… replaced with Pidgin
My proposed alternative is Pidgin, a program I downloaded when Windows Live Messenger appeared to have kicked the bucket once and for all; I’ve never looked back since. It is lightweight and speedy and starts up and (seems to) signs in much faster than the above competitor. It can handle all sorts of IM protocols, including (among many others) MSN messenger, AIM, IRC, Google Talk and even Facebook chat, all of which are integrated seamlessly into a simple no-nonsense interface with tabbed conversations enabled by default. In terms of extra features, I was pleased to see an option to connect through a proxy and a highly customisable macro feature, ‘buddy pounces’.
The real beauty of Pidgin lies in the apparent simplicity and breeziness of its interface that disguise powerful features and chameleonic customisability which enhance usability remarkably for an end-user of virtually any technological background. All I can say is thank God Messenger broke!