Introduction

On Friday, 31st October, 2014, Microsoft's MSN Messenger service, then known as Windows Live Messenger, breathed its final breath. Personally, I was devastated. I bet millions of other people were, too!

Do you long for the days when you'd run home from school, fire up your PC and sign straight into MSN to chat with your friends? Do you pine for those cute emojis and winks? Do you wish you could just have one more water balloon fight? Oh, and what about those sounds? Well, cry no more, my nostalgic friends! I've found the perfect solution! It's known as Escargot Chat!

Escargot provides virtually all the things you loved back in those classic days, only on a different server. On the escargot site, you can download the instant Messaging clients you knew and loved back then, but they have been patched so that they connect to Escargot's constantly active servers rather than the dead servers of their original owners. They're exactly the same clients with all their original features, but they've just been slightly modified to connect to a different server.

Upsides

  1. Registering through Escargot means you are not specifically tied to using an account with the company who originally created the IM client. This means you can sign up using any email address, be it Microsoft, Gmail, AOL (if you're that way inclined), or any other email provider. I mainly use Windows Live Messenger, so I use my Hotmail address for authenticity's sake. Why not? It's Windows Live, after all!
  2. All versions of MSN/Windows Live messenger are supported, from Windows Live Messenger 2009 all the way down to the very early MSN Messenger 1.0 from 1999!
  3. It is free to sign up and use, regardless of what client, or frontend, you decide to go with. And when I say free, I mean Free For Life! No nasty hidden subscription fees or premium features. Just the glorious IM clients you know and love.
  4. All MSN/Windows Live Messenger clients are 100% accessible to the blind or visually impaired. They are very friendly with screen readers and they contain a lot of helpful sounds for things such as new messages, incoming and outgoing winks and nudges (each wink has its own sound) and contacts coming online.

Downsides

  1. Those still using Windows XP might have difficulties signing into MSN versions higher than version 3 through Escargot in the form of an 80048821 error. this is not an issue with Escargot per se, but rather it is an issue with the way the patched MSN Messenger clients authenticate themselves with their servers. Fortunately, I have found a way to defeat this error!. If you're using Windows 7, Windows 8.1 or Windows 10, however, everything should work fine.
  2. Right now, Windows Live Messenger 2011 and 2012 are not available through Escargot. Hopefully, though, support for these clients will come in the very near future.
  3. Yahoo! Messenger 5.0 and 5.5, as well as versions of MSN Messenger prior to 5.0, use an insecure password encryption method. This means they might not be viable options for those who are paranoid about data security.
  4. On 15th November, 2020, Escargot Chat was updated to include support for the aforementioned Yahoo! Messenger, as a result, Accounts created before this date were given a random string of letters and numbers that serve as their username for Yahoo! Messenger. Unfortunately, however, these long, unfriendly usernames can't be changed at this time.
  5. Sadly, video chatting over Windows Live Messenger cannot be done through Escargot yet. I certainly hope this feature is added, though, as it was one of my favourite features of Live Messenger back in the day.
  6. The only versions of Yahoo! Messenger that are available through Escargot right now are 5.0 and 5.5.

How do I sign up?

  1. First, visit this link to go to the Escargot registration page.
  2. Tab to the email address field and type your email address. Remember, it can be any email address!
  3. Tab to the password field and type a password. Make sure that you use a strong password with upper case (capital) letters, lower case letters and numbers. If you just use you're dog's name, you'll know doubt be hacked straight away. This applies to any online account you create, not just Escargot!
  4. During the registration procedure, you can decide to enable support for Yahoo! Messenger and older MSN versions prior to version 5.0. Just remember that these frontends use MD5 hashing, which is an insecure encryption method!
  5. Finally, click the create account button. Your registration is now complete!

Bring it back to life!

Now you've registered your account, it's time to perform the revival procedure!

  1. Visit the Escargot download page to download an IM client in your language. If you remember what client you used to use, you can download that one, or something close to it. I have a Windows XP virtual machine with Windows Live Messenger 8.5 from 2007, and installed on my physical Windows 7 PC is Windows Live Messenger 2009. I never used 2009 as a child, but I like to try and be as era appropriate as I can.
  2. Sign in with the email address and password you used when registering your account. If all your credentials are correct, you should be signed in and have full access to the Escargot Chat network! It's alive! It's alive!

Please note that when installing an MSN/WLM client, I don't recommend checking any other installation boxes, such as the MSN toolbar or the Windows Live Sign-in assistant. Just leave the shortcuts option checked. It just keeps the clutter down and provides faster access to the client.

Useful Links

Here are some good resources to get you fired up.

Outro

The old school instant messenger revival is in full swing and shows no signs of receding. So, cede your soul to nostalgia today and join us in our fight to bring these awesome icons of the past back from the dead!

With that said, I'll see you online! No, I'm busy right now. Oh, I'll be right back. I'm gunna be away for a while. God dammit! So many statuses to choose from :)