The Ultimate Guide to the Escargot Chat Service

Do you long for the days when you'd run home from school, fire up your PC and sign straight into MSN or Yahoo! Messenger to chat with your friends? Do you pine for those cute emojis and winks? Do you wish you could just have one more MSN 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!

Escargot is a service that is dedicated to reviving all the instant messaging services you knew and loved back in the day. Escargot offers many different chat clients that have been patched so that they connect to Escargot's constantly active servers rather than the original dead ones. These clients, referred to as "frontends", are available to freely download from the downloads page on the Escargot website

Upsides

  1. Registering through Escargot means you are not tied to using an account associated with a specific chat service. This means you can sign up using any email address, be it Hotmail, Outlook, Gmail or any other email provider.
  2. If, like me, you pine for the simplar days of MSN, many versions of MSN and Windows Live messenger are supported, from Windows Live Messenger 2009 all the way down to the very early MSN 1.0 from 1999.
  3. It is free to sign up and use. 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 Messenger and 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.
  5. All though Windows Live Messenger has an advertisement placeholder (it's the same program, after all), there will never actually be any ads that show up. This is actually an additional upside to Escargot, since they can't show ads for legal reasons anyway. Think about it. Microsoft would wipe Escargot off the face of the earth if they found out that money was being made from their services.

Downsides

  1. Currently, only MSN/Windows Live Messenger and Yahoo! Messenger are offered through Escargot. However, more frontends are planned for the future.
  2. Escargot used to offer pre-patched Yahoo! Messenger 5.0 and 5.5 frontends, but they had to be pulled from the site due to users experiencing too many problems. Now, you must patch these frontends yourself. This is fine if you can see, but accessibility issues with virtually all PE (Portable Executable) explorers and editors, including the tool recommended by Escargot themselves, leave those who use screen reading technologies like myself unable to follow the manual patching instructions. Also facing difficulties are those who are less technically minded than others. These people may therefore not be able to understand the instructions as well as others, resulting in them not being able to successfully follow them.
  3. 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. I don't think this is an issue with Escargot per se, but rather it is an issue with the way the patched MSN and Windows Live 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.
  4. Versions of MSN Messenger prior to version 5 use an insecure password encryption method. The offered Yahoo! Messenger 5.0 and 5.5 clients also use insecure password storage methods. This means they might not be viable options for those who are paranoid about data security.
  5. With the recent release of Escargot's "Big Update", a username system was implemented to better accommodate Yahoo! Messenger. However, as a side effect, accounts created before the Big Update, November 15th 2020, were given an automatically generated username which cannot be changed. You will have to create an entirely new account if you want to have a custom username of your own choosing. Good luck rebuilding that contact list!

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 older MSN versions prior to version 5.0 as well as Yahoo! Messenger support. Just remember that these frontends use an insecure encryption method! It is therefore advised that you use a throwaway account for these frontends.
  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 a frontend of your choice. If you remember what specific version of a frontend you used to use, you can download that one. I used Windows Live Messenger 8.1 from 2007 as a child, so that's the one I'm currently using.
  2. Sign into the frontend 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 your favourite chat clients once more! 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 retro 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 our favourite classic chat clients 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 :)