We all know that Microsoft wants desperately to get into the game on Social Networking (I suspect that, one day, they will buy FaceBook or LinkedIn – maybe both).  Anyway, they have been doing similar stuff for a long, long time.  I have been using “Messenger” since at least 2000 (“MSN Messenger” came out in 1999, and they renamed it to “Live Messenger” in 2005).

So I had a look at what they had done so far, out of curiousity, to compare to FaceBook and such.

They did have a pretty cool thing called “Spaces”, which I used to use.  Most of it can be replicated in FaceBook, though, and since most of my friends are on FaceBook, I had to leave the spaces page “public”.  Herein lies the problem for Microsoft.  If none of my friends are using it regularly, how do I keep things private between me and my friends?  Answer: I use FaceBook.  I deleted my “Spaces” page a few weeks ago (even though Microsoft’s solution was, in my humble opinion, better laid out than a FaceBook page).

I used to change the messenger “Personal Message” box a few times a day to something that seemed witty and charming (like me).   I discovered that all these old messages were on my live.com public profile – Microsoft was publishing this stuff!  Ack.  Egad.  Zoinks.  I used to put stuff on here that I would never put on FaceBook, and it’s not even public. I spent 20 minutes deleting months of crap.

I also tried to replace my photo, but it didn’t work for some reason.

Finally, I updated my e-mail address to my new one.  This is when all hell broke loose.

First of all, understand that I do business using Messenger.  I have for years.  I closed one of my largest sales ever in an “instant message”.  This is an essential business tool for me.

Live.com warned me that it might take 2 hours for my Messenger contacts to appear online – that was perfectly fine at 10pm.  So, I waited a day and a half.  In the support archive I found, it said it could take up to 48 hours.  So, I waited another 3 days.  Nothing.  I tried adding a new contact in Messenger, no go.  I tried re-adding an old contact.  Nada.  I tried using another program (Pidgin) –  still nothing.  As far as Messenger functionality, my account was dead.  I even tried changing the e-mail address back to what it was.  You guessed it – zilch.  Draw 2-Xs on that account.

I looked for some threads on fixing it – I searched Google (and Live.com for that matter).  Nothing.  Was I the only one having this problem?  Maybe.

Anyway, I wrote a message to Microsoft through the support links, and, after I submitted it, I got the message that they do not respond to this “feedback”.

Finally I have added a new Live.com account, and re-added all my Messenger contacts.  What an ordeal.

After all this, I’m not feeling particularly motivated to try out Live’s social networking tools.

I had a look anyway, and given FaceBook’s corner on the market, I don’t see a compelling reason to use Microsoft.  They have a shot at fame, considering the legacy users of Messenger.  Unfortunately, as one of those legacy users, my experience was a nightmare.  If this is the “standard” experience, they won’t get too far here.  But I’ve been wrong before, and Microsoft has deep pockets.  If they don’t buy FaceBook, they’ll undoubtedly buy some other successful social networking websites.

Lesson of the Day: Do not EVER change your Live.com e-mail if you use Messenger.