Hello Windows Live Messenger.
A few months ago all the members of the MSN Messenger team were shut into a room (lured there by cookies and free frappaccinos) to hear the announcement. "MSN Messenger had a good run. It's time for change. Then next time our users upgrade, it will be to Windows Live Messenger"
A judge would've started banging his gavel, "Order! Order!" because the entire saucer-eyed, slack-jawed team erupted in murmurs and exclamations. I personally clapped my hands and bounced up and down like a two-year-old. "I can't WAIT to blog this!" (yeah, that's right - I have a one-track mind). I didn't know why or how or what it all meant, except that I'd have to get new business cards. Actually - I like my business cards, they're all multicolored with the adorable little flapping butterfl...
"WAIT!" I cried. "The butterfly! What's going to happen to the butterfly!?"
They looked at me the same way my parents did when my childhood dog, Minx, got cancer. So, no more butterfly for Messenger. I'm still excited about the change to Windows Live, but I am gonna miss that little guy. Sniff.
Since the internal announcement, I've learned that this name change actually is a lot bigger than a juicy blog post and the canning of a defenseless Lepidoptera (look it up, I did) on Messenger.
MSN will morph into two brands, Windows Live and MSN.
After a few successful years, the creators of the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer split the cast and concept in half and created a new and almost equally successful show, Angel. Buffy focused on the human experience, while Angel catered to the sci-fi-action-loving crowd. Think of MSN like Buffy and Windows Live like the Angel spin-off: same people and same missions, but divided in the interest of better focus. MSN now means content, like MSN.com and MSNBC. While Windows Live means services like Live.com, Mail, and of course, Instant Messaging.
MSN Messenger 7.5 is the last version of the IM client that will wear the MSN brand. The next one will wear Windows Live.
In some ways this announcement could be misinterpreted as just a Prince-esque or Puff Daddy name change: I mean, look at it from our perspective: one day, halfway through upgrading MSN Messenger 7.5 to MSN Messenger 8.0 we're told to keep doing what we're doing, just be aware it'll be called Windows Live Messenger instead of MSN Messenger 8.0. When it's ready you, as users, will download Windows Live Messenger just like you would've downloaded MSN Messenger 8.0, had there been one. You will sign in with the same ID and see your buddies, and have the ability to IM anyone whether they're running the old MSN Messenger or the new Windows Live Messenger. You will have all the old features you're used to, plus the awesome new ones that we were building for Windows Live Messenger. (ha, that reads like I was trying to hypnotize you, but I know I don't have to, you WILL do all these things ;-). Ok, I will, anyway :-).
But like a "John" who changes his name to "Jane", this is more than just a name change. To see major implication, you have to know that the name change is just a first step. As the services pull away from MSN content to live together under a new brand, we're also pulling closer together under one mission: To unite the online experience If that sounds like a line PR fed us, you're probably right - but I don't mind saying it because I believe the product teams fed it to PR first. We're computer users too, and the idea of being able to access a lot more features from a lot more places, to switch from Messenger to Search to Mail and have everything look and work the same way, excites us. Take the new Unified Contacts in Windows Live Messenger as an example. How much do you hate storing a different and disjoint list of contacts all over the place, in Messenger, in your address book, in your phone, and when information changes in one place, it's outdated in all the others. Imagine how great it will be when we're going to be able to keep all of your contacts in one place so that when you're using different services you can access this list in the same straightforward way. Imagine if someone consolidated life this way! Every time I leave my house, I go through a mental list: Phone? Keys? Wallet? Camera? MP3 Player? Gum? I would love for someone to consolidate these items for me. ("Now you can call your friends, drive your car, pay for lunch and photograph it too! listen to The Offspring, freshen your breath all with one unified device!").