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!
Escargot provides all the things you loved back in the MSN days, only on a different server. On the escargot site, you can download the MSN clients you are used to but they have been patched so that they connect to Escargot's constantly active servers rather than Microsoft's dead servers. It's the same client with all the same features (emojis, winks, instant messages, nudges, video chat etc) it just connects to a different server.
Registering through Escargot means you are not specifically tied to using a Microsoft account. This means you can sign up using any email address, be it Hotmail, Outlook, Gmail or any other email provider. I just used my Hotmail address for authenticity's sake because why not? It's MSN, after all!
All versions of MSN messenger are supported, from Windows Live Messenger 8.5 all the way down to the very early MSN 1.0 from 1999.
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 MSN Messenger you know and love.
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.
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.
Those still using Windows XP might have difficulties signing into MSN versions higher than version 3 through Escargot. I don't think this is 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. Windows XP has known SSL certificate issues anyway, so this comes as no surprise. However, if I find a fix or a solution is implemented , I will update this article accordingly. If you're using Windows 7, Windows 8.1 or Windows 10, however, everything should work fine.
Right now, Windows Live Messenger 2009 and 2012 are not available through Escargot. However, Escargot have finally figured out how to support them and they should be coming in the very near future.
Versions of MSN Messenger prior to version 5 use an insecure password encryption method. This means they might not be viable options for those who are paranoid about data security.
Tab to the email address field and type your email address. Remember, it can be any email address!
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 MSN!
During the registration procedure, you can decide to enable support for older MSN versions prior to version 5.0. Just remember that versions prior to 5.0 use MD5 hashing which is an insecure encryption method!
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!
Visit the Escargot download page to download an MSN client in your language. If you remember what version you used to use, you can download that one. I used Windows Live Messenger 8.1 from 2006, so that's the one I'm currently using.
Sign in with the email address and password you used when registering your account. If all your credentials are correct, and you're not using Windows XP, you should be signed in and have full access to MSN/Windows Live again! 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.