What happens when the corporation anybody seems to love to hate, namely Microsoft, release a killer app and of makes it free (as in dollars), but, of course, keeps its source jealously closed? And worse than that, use it to maintain a strong lock-in to the Windows platform?Microsoft’s MSN Messenger is a bulky, overbloated messenging application. Its new beta (version 7) makes things even worse: it now allows you to ‘nudge’ the IM window of your correspondent (it shakes his/her IM window for a period of one or two seconds). Other new features allow users to send and receive annoying-as-Hell full screen Flash sequences, an easy white board integration, background bitmap sharing and of course, a good lot of merchandized artwork (the usual obnoxious emoticon pack plus new contents for every feature I just described). It has even its own blogging and photo sharing system. Young people love it.
Of course, the older MSN 6 features are still there. A big 96×96 pixel display picture (MSN variation of the avatar or buddy icon), very good webcam support (plug & play that really works), attractively themed windows. Other features include magical file transfers (magical in the sense that thanks to uPNP, file transfer actually work, even if you’re heavily firewalled/NAT’ed), a game system (from a basic and free tic tac toe to more evolved, for-money games) that works far from flawlessly and pretty bad audio support, far behind the current leader’s (Skype) abilities.
Young people in European countries just can’t live without MSN. Here, anyone in his teens or twenty-something has its MSN Messenger account (we usually call it MSN for short here, since nobody even knows that MSN is an ISP in the USA). Just give me your MSN and we’ll talk about it tonight’ is a sentence you’ll hear pretty everywhere, from elementary school to universities. Non-‘MSN’-users are being more marginalized everyday. Just as people (like me) who don’t want a cell phone are.
What does it have to do with Free and Open Source Software, you may ask? Well, the idea behind this rant is simple, if not simplistic. You’ll often read in this column, on Slashdot and on various other sites that ‘heavy’ software (more often cited examples are Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop & Illustrator or the Macromedia suite) keep people from using Free operating systems (i.e. any Linux or BSD flavor running KDE or GNOME). That’s true, but that’s far from being the complete story.
Can you connect to the MSN Messenger network using Free operating systems? Sure you can. There is Gaim, there is Kopete. Are they attractive? No, they aren’t. Their interfaces are terrible. Moreover, all you can do with them is write basic IMs. Bye bye overbloated and stupid nudge and Flash sequences. Just the text ma’am. Display picture? Well, it sort of works, but that’s all. File transfers? I can swear that you’re a lucky guy (girl) when it works. Usually it doesn’t, resulting in embarrassing ‘Sorry mate, I’m using Linux, you know and, well, could you mail me this picture instead?’.
And boy are they ugly. Compare a MSN Messenger 7 chat window and a Gaim window. Gaim (or Kopete for that matter) is so austere that the comparison looks unfair even to people who, like me, usually hate themed windows and flashy-for-the- sake-of-being-flashy interfaces.
Will it keep me from using other OSes than Windows? Certainly not. Will it keep young people from using them? You bet. And that’s the point of this long rant. Office and creative applications, are undoubtely important tools for keeping Windows’ (and to a lesser extent, Mac OS X’s) lock-in on the Desktop. But I can’t understand why every Free and Open Source advocate basically snobs IM’s. Gaim and Kopete are just not good enough. I mean that their target public (i.e. young people) just won’t care to use it (I understand that some people, me included, can live with them. We just aren’t the target public).
We have OpenOffice.org, we have FireFox. Both are doing well in their respective domains. Why do we keep thinking that Gaim’s so ‘1999-2000’ tools are good enough? They aren’t and it’s my opinion — and I’d really like it to be false — that it’s a major problem to address in the next few months in order to increase the admission of Free and Open Source software on the desktop. A problem that has to be addressed very, very quickly, before it becomes even worse.
About the author:
Stéphane Rieppi lives in Belgium and is majoring in sociology at the University of Liège. He has a strong passion for Free and Open Source computing and is working on a thesis about Free and Open Source software seen from a
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This article just convinced me to download MSN Messenger. I haven’t tried it in a couple of years, but after reading all the features it has I’m going to download it right now.
they have a windows and linux client (java). http://www.qnext.com
It’s pure opinion. “Stéphane” makes claims that Windows messenger has a nicer looking interface than gaim or kopete and then does NOTHING to back it up! Just as well, because I seriously prefer the windows that gaim pops up to the ridiculous out-of-place MSN windows. Native widgets are where it’s at, and I’m sorry to say that putting other clients down because they use them makes you sound a little like some junior-high whiz kid whose tastes haven’t matured yet.
He claims that file transfers seldom work…I’ve never had one fail. That’s with both me and the recipient behind routers, and with me as part of a large firewalled subnet (wireless network of over 16k users) and the recipient at home. File transfers have been flawless for me so far.
Display pics “kind of” work. How do they not? I’m able to see other people’s display pictures, and I’m able to set my own. Seems to me that “works”.
There’s no nudge, and no full screen flash. This is a good thing :rolleyes:
The only thing I’d like to see added is whiteboard support…that’s kind of handy.
I’ve been using gaim almost exclusively for 4 years now. I have to switch to MSN messenger every now and again to work on windows (and yes, I use the new beta 7) and I find it awkward and painful to use every single time.
Next time you publish an article passing it off as an analysis, please label it as pure speculation; if you use me as a reference, your analysis is completely wrong.
Those of you bashing the article and the replies in favor of it are completely missing the point.
MSN is a KILLER APP. Those teens in Austrailia were all cool with Linux *except* for the fact that it had no MSN.
Joe/Jane Teenybopper and Joe/Jane User don’t want good for you but vile tasting and hard to swallow cod liver oil. They want yummy easy to unwrap, chew and swallow Hersheys chocolate.
You’re never going to convert the masses to cod liver oil. You need to find away to put a nice chocolately exterior over the cod liver oil.
And for those dingleberries spouting the old “why don’t you go out and write your own code” line of crap a doodle doo. I ask why don’t you go out and become certified mechanics for whatever sort of transportation you use? Or, if you walk everywhere, why don’t you go get your journeyman plumbing, electrical, or carpenter certification?
What? Don’t have the time/talent/interest to learn an involved and complex skill?
I don’t think that there is a valid reason for open source IM clients to support some of the trippier interface features, like nudging.
100% agree to this sweet article. Explain a non IT Scientist to use apps with an ugly 1980s’ User Interface. Tell the people “You can’t do this and that, but it’s still better to use the non working free soloution”.
If the typical “my GUI is a shell” or “KDE isn’t overloadedat all” Computerscientists don’t get that usability looks different and feels different – well, be sure to wait another decade to see linux on desktop.
Geez have you guys actually ever tried GAIM? If I had to name one app that has the cleanest interface on earth it’d definitely be GAIM. Also, it is very usable (just like most gnome apps), just fill in 2 (YES TWO, just like in the real Mensenger) text fields (username + password) and you are ready to go. With one or two more mouse clicks you can also auto-login @ startup.
People migrated from MS DOS to Windows without the same applications. Lotus 1-2-3 users switched over to Excel or Quatro-Pro just so they could use the other apps. Same thing happened during the transition from the Apple II to the IBM PC. Most users did not use Visi-Calc after they switched, they used Lotus 1-2-3 on.
I will give the equivalent for Linux. Note that some of them are also available for Windows and MacOSX.
1. Adobe Photoshop: Gimp
2. Macromedia Dreamweaver: Quanta, Bluefish, Nvu
3. Adobe Illustrator: Scribus
4. Adobe InDesign: I never used that product. Anyone is welcome to add the equivalent
5. Microsoft Office: Open Office. VErsion 2 will allow easy transition from MS Office than the current version (1.1.4).
6. Microsoft MSN messenger: Gaim, AMSN(my sister has it on her IBook.
7. Microsoft Windows Media Player : Xine, MPlayer, Kaffeine
I agree it’s true that Microsoft want to lock users into MSN, we can’t blame him for trying that, that’s what he does.
People like bells and whistles more than stability, security, freedom or any of that stuff, at least the great majority.
That’s not a good thing, but that’s how things work.
Besides, it really doesn’t matter how many things YOU say in this kinds of articles/posts, or how YOU think things should be.
What really matters is how things are being done, and as it seems none of you is a developer and will not contribute a single bit to the cause you think is good.
OpenSource software isn’t made up magically out of the blue; we need developers. I can say that I myself am the one that made almost all of the bulk of what the Gaim’s MSN protocol plugin is right now. I made user displays and file transfer work, and I can tell you right I’m alone in implementing all the features people want for MSN on Gaim (except from Voice and Video), not to mention bugfixes.
I find it kind of funny how you talk about in which direction should an army of developers should go, when in fact we are just a few.
So are you going to do something about it or just complain?
Your car and oil analogy doesn’t really work. If you get oil for free it only affects you and no one else cares. Not the same with communication software since, after all, you are using it to communicate with _others_.
Now, according to the article MSN is very popular. The problem is that it works on Windows and only partially on other platforms (I personally have no idea since I don’t use any IM at all).
If everyone else is using MSN and I’d like to get into this IM thing I’d be left out since I don’t use Windows and couldn’t communicate with them. Would it not be better if some open protocol was used instead of a proprietary one?
This should answer your question “worse for whom?”.
the author of the rant is assuming that Linux’s goal is to be user friendly to young people.
That’s the error: Linux’s goal is to be a free version of Unix. It’s best use is specific projects like science apps and more recently thanks to StarOffice/OpenOffice business apps.
Multimedia conversion is an ongoing issue and Linux will probably work best if it makes its apps to work with Linux and not worry about M$ compatibility. M$ obviously isn’t making their products to be compatible with Linux or even mac why should Linux?
I use Gaim. It is not bad and not bad-looking either. It covers all im needs on all protocols I need. (ICQ, MSN and Yahoo). It is not invasive as MSN. It is very stable.
MSN interface is bloated and inefficient and it covers one protocol only. So, really MSN is no match for Gaim in my opinion. Webcam support is much better (uses less resources) in old Netmeeting, which is also retaining some compatibility with open apps like Gnomemeeting.
Not sure about in America, but here in Canada, it would be weird, unless someone still doesn’t have internet, to not have msn. Everyday msn’s addresses are exchanged. I often use amsn for linux, that does an OK job at, but very much so sucks for file transfers.
If I understand. GAIM is creating a better API that people can connect to. This has a lot of useful ramifications.
Some can create a nicer looking client. Maybe one that follows the HIG. Or IM’ing could be placed in just about any program, very nice.
I live in Portugal (europe, for the geographically impaired) and I must say that there is only one person I talk to using ICQ. The rest of my contact list is MSN (or “messenger” as it is called).
Moreover, everybody else I talk to seems to use MSN. At least the people in my faculty and especially the people from my course (Computer Science) and people from the department where I work (Chemistry). This comprises students and teachers.
It may not be representative, but we are talking several different generations and higher-than-average education.
My sister and his colleagues also seem to use MSN-only. This comprises students at the pre-college stage.
This is funny, since some time ago most of them were using ICQ, but have since dropped it like a bad habit..
I personally *hate* Microsoft’s MSN Messenger and use Trillan (3.0) when on Windows. It is rather feature complete, only missing the games (irrelevant for me and everybody I know) and video (available in the pay version). Is has audio, avatars, working file transfers and the sorts, on a clean interface.
When on Linux I use GAIM, which I find just barely “eatable”. The interface is clumsy, works erratically (transfering files) and is missing a shit-load of features that I personally don’t care about, but which are important for everybody else.
To sum things up, the guy is right, MSN Messenger is actually locking more people to Windows than almost any software out there. And until Linux gets a decent multi-protocol IM client, it is dead in the water for the masses.
BTW, MSN Messenger:mac is total crap, it has even less features than GAIM and gets disconnected every once in a while (this time, doesn’t seem server related) without any warning or indication. You just find out hours later when you try to send anybody a message, and it barfs.
And yes, I have said inumerous times “sorry, you can’t send me a file, I’m on Linux” which makes me feel like I’m doing something illegal or that I’m some kind of pervert… This was somewhat mitigated when GAIM got file transfers over MSN, but it doesn’t work half the times (and sometimes it even makes GAIM coredump).
> 3. Adobe Illustrator: Scribus
> 4. Adobe InDesign: I never used that product. Anyone is welcome to add the equivalent
You don’t seem to have dealed with apps like them 🙂
I use AMSN lol lol lol lol … but i always prefer icq, the only contact i have in ICQ is from my girlfriend , but personaly i prefer Icq 4 Xtraz then MSN 5,6,7 …
Well Linux never had pointed Desktop as a goal …
In this days i prefer using Gentoo with gdesklets and translucent, etc then Windows, i never liked windows i don’t know why but i don’t like it.
Yestearday i have installed Solaris 10 in a Desktop machine and the gui java 7 is amazing, some bugs but is amazing, and it’s based on gnome and nautilus, so Linux can be amazing with xorg 6.8, gedesks, gnome, translucent, i use Linux since 99 and comparing with windows since 99, Linux as develop 110%, windows is always the same …
Long time i am asking this tell me 3 good reason to left my GNU/Linux?
The article is great. The regular linux user doesnt seem to care about the nudges or the handwriting, but exactly: REGULAR LINUX USERS. The author asks for improving our IM’s for getting MORE people to linux. This is not like searching for the GAIM/Kopete replacement in the community. Its just for having what it needs to show that in linux people is not gonna lack of their connectivity achieved in the MSN. If you are a linux user is great, now youre one of us. But we have a market waiting to have a better OS, with the apps they learned to love. They’ve grown with those. Lets give them what they need and they will have less doubt to come with us.
AMSn have nuget
lol, take it easy Linux doesn’t have to do cheap propaganda calling communist to others in a country that everyone knows that is bad for image …
Let them speak and reelase longhorns and other stufs… They always will be with bugs and other funny stufs to exploit …
Looks like sociology in Belgium is dying.
The author seems to have forgottten the simple fact: once a user gets fed with bells’n’whistles, he wants two things: stability and usability.
There is an enormous amount of very nice, isable and fetureful IM applications in OSS world. I’m myself *very* happy with Psi, which is a Jabber-client. I still have contacts from ICQ worls, so I just use an ICQ gate. It *JustWorks*.
Who remembers ICQ? It seemed impossible but MSN Messenger came out of nowhere and destroyed ICQ empire as far as brazilian users are concerned. Yes, MSN is bloated. GAIM is not that bad: a couple of more features and it will be just as good as MSN is. All I know is that, ICQ did not inovate. Who can still stand to press ALT+S in order to send a message? In MSN a simple ENTER will do it. MSN is just simpler to use. Go online and have your contacts… you don’t need to capture id’s made out of trillion numbers like ICQ have. Just an email will do your buddy into your list. In Brazil, MSN is the only mainstream IM. 90% of us uses it. ICQ is still the fading choice of those very conservative… and they are being yes, discriminated like the author said. BUT I AIN’T KEEP PRESSING ALT+S TO SEND A MSG. NO WAY.
MSN Messenger is extremely popular in asian or latin american countries
C’mon you gotta be kidding. I’m from Brazil. It’s been a year or so, no one uses MSN Messenger anymore. I have about 30 people in my list. Only one is online right now. Only 3 or 4 appear online once in a while.
MSN Messenger is dead here. Used to be very popular 2 years ago.
very soon linux users will be able to have this:
Beats nudge features (although it’s an interesting idea). I think this would be useful for about any user personally.
“Exactly. Gaim has an EXTREMELY clean interface.”
Gaim like most oss IMs looks sterile, boring and lacks features people use to express themselves and their personality and that is precicely what msn has and gaim doesn’t: personality.
MSN Messenger is dead here. Used to be very popular 2 years ago.
Are you insane? As Whithersporne said, MSN easily holds a huge share of IM users in Brazil. Nearly all kids and twenty-somethings use it exclusively. My ICQ online list keeps getting smaller. I refuse to use MSN, but I happen to be a geek, and a geek who loves the KISS paradigm when it comes to IM. This must be your case, too.
@Whithersporne: If you use Miranda IM, you don’t have to press ALT+S to send your messages. ENTER will do. You can configure it to your tastes. Try it.
Exactly. Gaim has an EXTREMELY clean interface.
Not quite. Gaim has been critized a _lot_ by gnome developers. In fact, gaim 2.0(CVS) has tons of UI improvements in the preferences window – that means it was bad before.
Take any example: to change your nickname in MSN, for example. You have to go to “tools->actions->>account>”. Or try to change your buddy icon in MSN too. You’ve to change it in the account’s properties. Or the window which appears when no account is connected. Just ugly, ugly, ugly (there’re nice places of course). I hope gnome developers merge or fork it, or gaim developers start to take HIG seriously.
It is like saying that if car dealership offers me free oil change for 5 years if I buy their new car, it is worse.
Nope. Completely different. Let’s see…
First: The first thing that is different is that you don’t have with cars a monopoly like you have with pc OS. The fact Windows is a monopoly gives a whole new dimention to this.
Second: the car & oil you use doesn’t affect me at all so i don’t care, use what you want. But that doesn’t happen with chat client: if you use MSN, and i need to talk to you, i need to use MSN too.
Third: the fact Windows is a monopoly, makes MSN quick become a monopoly. And if everybody uses MSN, i’m literally forced to use MSN, which is kinda the point 2 i made before, but now extended to “everybody”.
Fourth: MSN only runs on Windows, so now because i want to talk to people i not only have to use MSN, but i also have to use Windows.
Fith: MSN is free, but Windows is not. So now i’m not only using something i didn’t want, i was forced to use, but now i’m also forced to spend money on this, i have no option.
Sixth: how does communication between people compare with the oil you put on your car. It doesn’t. They’re completery different things.
I havn’t bothered reading through the pages of comments here, but I’m gonna throw in my 2 (euro, since this is on MSN) cents.
I’m in the UK, and MSN is really the *only* messsaging service that gets used, some people use Yahoo! messanger, but not nearly as many as MSN.
As for claiming the IM clients are ugly, I don’t want an IM client to be pretty, and I don’t really want it to play games. I want to be able to *IM* with it.
File transfers work flawlessly here (although admitadly I’m on a routed IP block which helps), as does everything else. I’d rather use GAIM than Microsoft’s client any day.
I’m here to defend amsn, because what is said here is true, I agree with it, but I don’t think that it is so *dramatic*, I mean, alot of people switch to linux, and alot of them take their final decision when they see amsn. Our main goal (I’m an amsn developper) is to provide a simple to install/use msn client that has the same look and feel than microsoft’s messenger, and give them as much customization as possible as well as all features available in the official client. And I think we’re doing a pretty good job, when I talk about amsn to someone, they try it and love it and they show it to everybody, alot of my “how to open notepad” friends will never switch to linux, but they already switched to amsn in windows, which actually means that even if you have the choice between the official oh-so-flashy client, they will still use amsn because of it look-and-feel and because of it’s features (I’m talking about people who actually love those flashy things..).
Amsn is an MSN client (not multiprotocol like gaim) it runs pretty fast even on really slow computers with almost no RAM even if we use tcl/tk (we use tcl/tk because the project was began with it and it’s too late to change and primarly so that new linux newbies won’t have to compile anything, just download and click, user-friendliness and easy-to-use are priority).. anyways, about those features people are talking about that are not available in linux, I didn’t read everything but I’m sorry, amsn has almost everything you’re asking for :
– Nudges are available
– amsn supports video/audio chat pretty well (compilation of a plugin needed)
– File transfers work even if you are behind a firewall and strongly NAT’ed without upnp support, files will get through either you’re sending or receiving (many bugs in this feature but it should be stable for next release)
– Support for display pictures, custom emoticons
– Skins have a great power on customization, we now have an MSN7 skin that gives you the same look and feel as MSN beta (version 7),with display pictures inside the contactlist and everything
– Tk interface is ugly but we’re trying to correct this with our own 3d-like (skinnable) buttons and widgets
– Alot of skins, features, like remote-controlling your amsn, auto away messages, alarms on contacts, add notes for each user, block/unblock whole group, custom nicknames and custom color for a contact, set your friendly name, and hundreds or thousands of other features, everything fully customizable which gives amsn a powerfull advantage over that “little” official client..
the default skin is “normal”, if you want, you can have a flashy interface or a morbid one, depends on the skin you choose, and we’re putting alot of effort to make it even more user friendly..
Another advantage over microsoft is that if you have a problem with amsn (probably the same goes for all OSS) or if you would like a new feature, you just write an email or tell us the problem in one of our forums, and you will usually get an answer/a fix/a patch/or whatever within 1 day (5 minutes if I’m awake), try sending a bug report or feature request to microsoft and tell me how much time you will have to wait before getting an answer IF you ever get one…
anyways, this isn’t advertisment for amsn, please don’t take it that way, but it is only to answer the original post, even in the open-source community, you can find some softwares that really are even better than what microsoft gives you (the proof : thousands of users use amsn over official client even if they only have windows), they might want to do some lock’in with a “great” software, but they are not alone, and we DO have interesting, also great software in the open source community.. and amsn works for linux/windows/mac perfectly, so what’s the problem? you just need to look at the right spot (right spot == http://amsn.sf.net).
Anyways, your point is good and I agree with you, but concerning the MSN alternatives for linux.. I can only say that it’s hard to keep up with them, but I think linux has what it takes to crush microsoft…
The only person I know who really uses MSN
is one of my g/f’s little brothers.
He goes to private school, which may explain
why he’s not using AIM, either that or all the
little kids are using MSN and I just don’t know it.
Other than that, I know of one or two people who used
to have an MSN account a long time ago, as well
as an AIM account, but I can’t vouch for whether
or not they use it, and how many people they know
who use it.
MSN is for Canuk’s, losers here in the US and apparently
Europeans. I swear I would bitch slap anybody I knew
if they used that nudge feature, if I was forced to
Nobody uses ICQ anymore.ICQ used to be the king!
I use Windows 98, mainly because, to the extent of my knowledge, the small city I live in only has Internet Access for Windows. I don’t care for MSN or AIM, really. My favorite IM has to be Yahoo! Messenger… Yahoo! is much more stable, faster loading than the others, cleaner features, less bloated than MSN yet less skimpy than AIM, and frankyly, Yahoo! is just all around great. I like MSN more than I like AIM because AIM is all-around faulty, if nothing else on my computer. I don’t use ICQ at all because nobody else I know does.
Everyone around here seems to use MSN – I used to use Trillian/Kopete to keep track of people in other networks, but now it seems aMSN is working well enough, because the two people left using ICQ sign onto MSN using a multi-protocol client too.
That being said, I don’t think anyone uses them for nudges. Personally I hate the idea; I think the open source clients that will interact adequately with the network are doing fine.
I’m not a fan of gaim at all (it just seems to irritate me when I use it) but it and Kopete are certainly adequate replacements.
aMSN’s not bad either, but I prefer having the other protocols available if I want them.
The author’s claims regarding file transfers are pretty silly. They work fine as long as your firewall is properly configured. If you don’t know how to properly configure your firewall, you are probably not using an operating system that requires GAIM in the first place.
Ironically enough, I can’t send files to my cousin who is using Windows because she hasn’t properly configured her firewall, whereas I can send files to my buddy running Ubuntu just fine.
I think the only real area where Linux could be in trouble with MSN is webcam support. I hope parity is achieved in this space in short order.
Almost always with my friends who I talk to who use windows, I try and prompt them to switch from whatever im they are using to gaim.
Gaim supports almost every popular protocol and is a very nice client.
Once they are using gaim and like it, I slowly prod them into signing up for a jabber account (through gaim, very simple), and then proceed to talk to them purely on jabber.
“I don’t see such innovations in jabber or open source clients”
For a start, people in this thread rather misunderstand Jabber – it’s not really in this market, it’s competing with SIP/SIMPLE as a messaging *framework*. Large corporations are deploying their own IM systems in an attempt to get rid of the use of public clients on internal networks for company business, and Jabber gets a lot of interest in that area (though the competition is pretty fierce). AFAIK, the people who developed Jabber never intended it to be a large network to compete with MSN, AIM, ICQ etc.
And besides, gaim has plenty of features I don’t see in MSN. Tabs, for a start. Aliases (it’s *so* nice to talk to ‘Bob’ and not ‘stupid name bob created today and will change tomorrow so you don’t know who the hell it is oh and it’s ridiculously, hideously long and has leet characters in it’). It tells you whether other people have you on your contact list, which is great. And a simple, efficient, quick plugin system, which allows you to have *far* more elegant notification than I’ve seen in any proprietary client (with MSN it can either be hideously intrusive or nothing – with gaim’s notification plugin, the window title gets an asterisk prepended when there’s a new unread message. Simple, elegant, non-intrusive.) Had enough yet?
Conversion to something that doesn’t support webcam?
My post above should read ‘their contact list’, not ‘your contact list’, sorry. And for the guy on Windows 98 – there’s no such thing as an internet connection only for a certain OS. No matter whether you’re on dial-up, ADSL, ISDN, cable or whatever, you can use Linux and get online. Your ISP may not *support* you running Linux, but it will work, and they’ll be happy to take your money so long as you don’t call them for tech support.
Does anyone know of an open library that supports msn,aim,yahoo etc?
It would be better for the open source community if the developers of gaim or kopete separated the protocol and messaging functions from the gui.
This would enable others who may not be interested in reverse engineering to do their own front ends. Perhaps some of them would make applications that redefine how we think about messaging.
BTW: I have not heard of a single person in Norway that doesn’t use MSN 🙂
I used to use MSN until around a year ago, since i had most of my friends there, and when i saw articles on how Yahoo Messenger was so common in my country (Romania) i didn’t really believe them.
After using the yahoo messenger, i can say i like it far more than the msn one, i like the interface better, the smileys are great, the buzz in the new yahoo 6 is also sweet, and i don’t have an annoying banner add like i do in MSN. And secondly nowadays i only have around 3 friends on msn, mostly from abroad, except them, all of my friends are on yahoo, it really is very popular here.
Oh, and msn 7 beta isn’t much good either, it still fails to match yahoo in my opinion, and the fact that if offers you to BUY smileys and themes for 1.5-3 dollars, i’d say it’s either hillarious, or very, very sad, though all truth be told, there has to be some demand for it, it wouldn’t appear from the blue.
Would everyone quit bitching about how ugly GAIM is and start using AMSN if u dont like it? It looks very good, supports nudges with an add-on, supports buddy pics (receiving and sending), does file transfer pretty good and although it doesn’t yet have audio or video, it is being worked on (as a free as in freedom add-on)
So instead of trying 1 program and sitting there bitching about how the interfaces on all OS programs sucks, why not try some of the others? That would be like trying Acrobat Reader 5 for Linux and then saying that all proprietary applications on Linux suck.
This sound more of the Open Source advocates griping about all things Microsoft. I gotta question for ya, whats so bad about Messenger besides the fact it isnt Open Source? It works well and does what its supposed to do, send IM’s.
Actually audio/video is supported in amsn, however it is currently being overhauled so that it will work much better.
as far as i know, im an asian, YM is the most used messenger here.. not msn not aim..
this thread is getting huge, but just to state my point here it goes another post
the only thing i miss in the floss alternatives to msn, even on the protocol specific ones like amsn, is the ability to use a whiteboard
I dont care about the webcam, the microphone, the file transfering.. for that theres alternatives
What i would rather love to see is a way to co-work with others at the easy of drawing diagrams/concepts with the mouse
or just to flirt that special girl with love signs…
For disclosure, I work for Microsoft. I don’t work on any kind of Messenger-related product, though. Here’s my two cents.
The term “lock-in” is kind of silly, given the number of freely available instant-messaging alternatives. I use MSN, Yahoo, and AIM a fair bit. I’ve also tried stuff like Trillian. There are a lot of things that I like about MSN — and a lot that I don’t like. Let’s start with the things that I don’t like…
* I don’t like the fact that I can’t delete old contacts that may still have a reference to my email address. That’s really a pain.
* I don’t like having a hard-wired minimum app size; that is, the app won’t let me shrink it below a certain size because it’s reserving real estate for buttons, pictures, and other chrome.
* Although it may be useful for some folks who use a single computer, I haven’t associated my Windows login with my Passport because I have multiple Passports (work, home, etc). It doesn’t make sense for me to associate one.
Here’s what I like about MSN Messenger…
* It’s built-in. No need to forage for another client. Convenient when using my Mom’s computer — because I just don’t want to install anything else on it.
* I like having the installable emoticons (although I rarely use them).
* I like the whiteboard. Useful for collaboration.
* I like the integration with Hotmail. Nice to be notified when mail comes in.
Many of the other IM clients offer similar features. I really don’t have a favorite. It’s kind of inconvenient to have to hop around between them, depending on what your friends use. Would be nice to have an uber-IM client that spans all networks.
Look, I know that many of you think that MS is the Evil Empire. But I think you’d be surprised at how receptive teams around MS are to both negative and positive feedback from people just like you. This whole FOSS versus closed-source thing has gotten pretty boring. It’s software, not a cure for cancer. If you haven’t done so, I’d encourage you to consider giving feedback; if not for you, then for your Mom’s sake. 😉
Take care. And happy computing…
about the whiteboard, I have 2 things to tell you, first, noone ever asked about the whiteboard, second, the beauty of OSS is that if you like that feature so much you might be able to help us and add support for it…
anyways, the second thing I wanted to say is that, easier than the whiteboard, there are those ink messages you can send, you can try InfoPenMSN for windows, it’s a plugin to draw ink messages (handwrite) in msn, we are able to send/receive those messages but only when we have a png/gif image sent, but official msn uses ISF (Ink Serialized Format), and it’s their own file format, no specifications everywhere, the only way to do it is to use microsoft’s SDK, which is impossible in linux, I’m currently (that’s what I did all day long today actually) trying to reverse engineer that format, reading windows dll code in assembly and trying to figure it all out.. not easy, and that’s where the original topic comes again, Microsoft released their ISF format giving you acces to it only through their API/SDK which means you can’t use it anywhere… that’s the real lock’in.. it’s not about a “killer app” in windows and a “bad UI” in linux..
I think the main problem with Gaim is that it is not as intergrated into Gnome as MSN. You must have noticed that starting OE6 always opens MSN and when you are logged on to MSN, OE6 automatically shows tbe presence info of all your buddies.
However, works has been done in this regard, with the gevolution plugin (address book intergration), galago (presence handling. freedesktop.org) and the recent work on Gnoem HIG compliance and UI simplification. Hopefully, they will fix most of the bugs.
As for the UI ugliness mentioned, I must remind the author that flashy UI is *NOT* the style for gnome. Gnome is much more similar to MacOSX in this regard: instead of being flashy, the apps are more consistent in terms of UI. Just look at iTunes, it’s not ugly, is it? And note that iTunes completely complies to the Apple HIG. The same goes for Gaim: its UI fits very well under Gnome (along with its subdued color palatte). However, it looks ugly under windows, because it doesn’t fit into the windows environment (and its colorful palatte)
Lastly, despite the GTK+ for win bugs, MSN Filetransfer on gaim actually works. Maybe the author should evaluate gaim on gnome isntead of win32.
if it were for Patchou @ msgplus.net MSN messenger would be Dull an Borring IM Client, if it werent for People Being able to make Skins for MSN messenger it’d be Borring, Nudges, there USELESS, what does Microsoft think we all are?.. Kiddies? an there ya have Winks, again why do we need those resourced Hungry things for? we dont, we aint kiddies, i like Gaim, coz its simple an no BLOAT, File sends an recieving files work for me Perfectly,
Doesn’t realy matter that much when it’s banner/adfree.
I think everyone should use what they would like to use.
It is not ‘our’ (for I don’t feel me as a member of the linux community, even though I have used it for many years) task to give every audience exactly what they want to have. Of course much things that go into usuability are usefull for everyone (dbus and hal anyone?) but I think full screen flash messages or shaking others IM windows really don’t fit linux. And I for one can really live without people who want to know why their window doesn’t shake in gaim (and the many many other questions they’ll ask in the way we all hate).
And as I speak of gaim, I don’t think flashyness would fit it, gnome is simplistic, easy to use (as far as linux desktops go) but anything but flashy. I like gaims interface, I didn’t at first but if you look at it it all makes sense and is -very- easy to use, ‘modern’ interfaces like MSN or newer ICQ are a nightmare if you ask me.
I reckon nudging will abused a lot and then the spammers will start using it too.
I agree with author. M$ did the same (embed in Windows) with Internet Explorer (result: Netscape died), with Windows Media Player (Real and others are dying) and now with Messenger.
And you don’t see the complete and utter suckiness of Netscape (at the time) and Real (pretty much anytime) to be at all related to this ?
I’m from europe and I don’t have a msn account. I even don’t know a single person who has. And of course I got friends and I’m under 30. I even have a job in an IT company. Nobody there has a msn account too. In my university I also don’t know anyone with a msn account.
Maybe in your little world everyone uses msn, but msn is _not_ popular in europe. I know more people using icq, I know more people using jabber, I even know more people using aim (at least I know exactly one person using AIM…)
and by the way… who needs anything else than text-messaging and maybe filetransfer from a IM?
And you don’t see the complete and utter suckiness of Netscape (at the time) and Real (pretty much anytime) to be at all related to this ?
Exactly. Netscape 4.x sucked badly.
“IM market here is dominated by 3 Polish IMs: Gadu Gadu, Tlen and WP Contact.”
Yeah, but Tlen & WP Contat are just a Jabber services. You can connect to WP server with PSI/Gaim. Tlen is closed, but it’s still just modded Jabber. GaduGadu is lames IM protocol ever released.
I’ve done work for several netcafes here in Rotterdam, NL, and I can vouch that about 90% of the clientale who use any form of instant messaging prefer to use MSN.
From young people to old, MSN is widely used. It seems to be a favorite choice here. I begrudgingly use it myself, to communicate with my family back in Canada, although I prefer <a href=”http://www.bebits.com/app/1330“>BeShare.
Blatant advertising plug: For MSN fans who use BeOS/Haiku, check out the upcoming http://bme.sourceforge.net/“>Bme as well.
Back to my main point. From my perspective, I have seen a lot of MSN use in the Netherlands. I don’t know why, but that’s what I’ve seen over the past few years.
Editors: could you remove/edit my double posting of my site, and this post too? Thanx.
MSN has a good GUI. No more no less. Everybody here in the Philippines uses Yahoo! Messenger. Only few people use the MSNM. YIM is simpler and easier to use than MSN. Yahoo also runs faster, with more features and more reliable than MSN. With the 250mb mail box, it’s a sure win. MSN Hotmail already announced their 250mb storage for each account but until now my account is still in 2mb. Why is that upgrading all mailboxs is taking them so long while Yahoo! already upgraded their system twice (100mb and 250mb) and they almost finished upgrading it in less than 2 weeks. Not to mention, almost 100% of all cybercafes here have YIM installed but not MSN (Majority of the OS here is Windows 98).
MSN is the best messenger regardless of your negativism
Regardless of your opinions, the truth is that most of us want to use Windows and we enjoy full feature instant messengers such as MSN Messenger. Just because you are anti-Microsoft does not mean the whole world has to be, while I agree that open source may have some advantages, it also has disadvantages.
Any product could be targeted for security flaws, it just happens that Microsoft is the most popular, when everyone is concentrated on the same platform they will find flaws, but if hackers concentrated their efforts on open source OS and Apps they would more flaws than they’ve found on Microsoft products.
While Nudge and Blinks are not appealing to you, they are to most of us, but it’s like everything else, I may not like all of the features on my car, or my cell phone, but these products have most of the features I want.
I think all of you should just accept that companies like Microsoft are innovating software, and why hasn’t open source gotten there? Lack of innovation, I’m not against open source, but that does not mean I have to pick on the leader and be anti-leader, instead let’s be a leader and accept their credits, when open source is a true innovator, then it will be able to compete against companies like Microsoft.
Just a regular guy
“While Nudge and Blinks are not appealing to you, they are to most of us, but it’s like everything else, I may not like all of the features on my car, or my cell phone, but these products have most of the features I want.”
Leads to a very important question – can you turn nudging _off_ in the new MSN? If so, then fine, I agree (and BTW, I’m sure the nudging will be implemented in gaim via a plugin extremely soon, as it can hardly be a very complicated system – it’ll just be a simple code sent during the conversation most likely, all a gaim plugin has to do is pickup that code and do <whatever> with it). If not, your analogy is flawed; you yourself *choose* whether or not to use all the features on your phone / car, but you DON’T choose whether other people nudge your windows or not.
Actually, thinking about it some more, it’s obvious that a lot of the criticism here is massively wrong-headed. This is how things have gone – a new MSN Messenger comes out with some borderline useful ‘features’, and “open source” clients are bashed for ‘lack of innovation’. Look! Microsoft is making all these new features, and you aren’t!
That’s ridiculous. Think about it for a minute. No open source messenger client owns any protocol. How could gaim implement nudging in MSN? It doesn’t own the protocol. It doesn’t run the servers. No other client is going to take a blind bit of notice, and implementing something in a system that only your own client understands is anathema to open source and open standards so I doubt anyone would support gaim if they decided to do that. The only significant open-source messaging *protocol* – which is the layer at which this sort of ‘innovation’ should take place – is Jabber, and that’s just *stuffed* with interesting and innovative features…yet hardly anyone appears to use it. Open source clients do fine at innovation and design on the CLIENT level, which is after all the level they’re operating on.
Yes, I have the ability to disable Nudges and Winks on MSN Messenger so other MSN users will not be able to Nudge or Wink me.
I am well aware that Microsoft is making all these new features, I’m an end user, I don’t care who makes them, I want results, I want innovation, I want quality, not negativism.
My point is that so long as you’re using MSN, Microsoft is the *only* entity that can do that on the protocol level. It’s hardly fair to criticise groups who have absolutely no control over the protocol for not doing the same. All they can do is implement, or not, the features Microsoft creates.
I know, but do users really care about the server other than it being reliable? Client is all they care about really. Wow It seems more people overseas has MSN than people in the states .. odd..
Your coneception of young people keeping with windows just because of MSN is totally wrong, I have been using Linux since I was 14 and am Currently 17. Sure MSN 7 has some annyoing features, that some love, or love to hate. Yes I dual boot XP Pro and ArchLinux, But I will not boot to windows “just because I want to get a nudge..” or send a file. I havent had a problem yet with sending a file through GAIM, even though I have an hardware Firewall with _NO_ ports open. Not ONE single port is open. I have no trobule sending files.
Actually, Yahoo IM can do Nudges. I’m not sure if anyone else is doing winks, which I really don’t care about.
I’m not criticizing other developers, I’m just voicing my opinions based the criticism started in this forum.
Thats strange Nuno. I thought sapo.pt had the largest userbase branding adsl, among other things. As far as i can see from http://mensageiro2.sapo.pt/ they are using jabber so a large part og IM users in Portugal must be jabber users 🙂 but maybe they dont even know they are.
here, in the UK. MSN messenger is by far the most popular IM protocol. everyone i know, has an MSN account, and no-one uses any other kind of account. I felt i could relate to what the author was saying, I didn’t move to Linux as my primary desktop system, until i had a MSN Msngr client, as whilst I was in linux, i couldn’t see who was online, and therefore, wanting to drop back to Windows to check if there was anyone interesting online.
GAIM isn’t too ugly, as it matches your current user-interface for your normal system, so as long as that’s good, allows for more blending-in than in Windows.
Things aren’t helped by Windows Messenger being _impossible_ to remove from a XP system. Which tries signing you up for a MSN account during installation. Therefore no-one really bothers with any alterniative.
As for useless features, not being able to play games the same way as MSN 7.0 will not work, until Shockwave is ported. Nudges and other parafanalia, I would hope any linux user would rise above anyway. As soon as the novelty of nudge wear’s off, users are going to abuse it, then hate it. and isn’t nudge kind of stacked of Yahoo anyway?
The most annoying thing I’ve found, is GAIM as of yet, doesn’t even give text notification, when a MSN 7.0 feature is trying to be activated, like the sending of a picture, or starting a webcam, which can lead to awful confusion. Not being able to use a feature isn’t a problem, but not being given an error back is.
May be I’m becoming old …
But, my main desktops being Unices (Linux and Solaris), sometime working on Windows, I’m another Gaim user(on all platforms including Windows).
I have accounts on AOL, MSN, ICQ, Yahoo, Jabber, whatever.
Here in France with people of my age (between 25 and 35), I’m mostly using ICQ.
I certainly sometime encounter file transfer problems, but only when beeing behind a firewall (which mean most of the time but have the same problems with Yahoo messanger, ICQ, AOL).
File transfer and video through firewall are certainly killer features that would have to be replicated into free softwares.
But, I’m bored of constant troll about how to seduce regular people.
If they don’t feel like using free software, I do not see any need to “save” them.
When asked for help, if it is again some Windows problems, I point to free alternative, explaining why it is better on long term and sometime on short term (with youngers, usually feeling good about beeing “rebels”, I even try to explain why I feel Ms monopol is dangerous).
Then if they don’t feel inclined to use free software its their choice they are informed and I don’t provide extensive help.
May be, I’m just becoming asocial, but I don’t need or want MSN “funky” features and text messaging is good enough for me (I hate thos pics, sounds and other disturbing thingies).
I hate proselytes and I feel free software only need to keep on being used, improve at its pace with people willing to use it.
If it is good enough people will come, if not it will shrink to a small group among which I will be.
(sorry I wear no beard to match the complete archetype)
What is wrong with GAIM’s interface? It is consistent with the rest of the system regardless of OS thanks to its wonderful theme support. Not to mention it is THE most configurable IM client available. If you want to download and run 6 different im clients eating away at your memory, with flashy useless features, and inconsistent user interfaces then be my guest, but don’t go knocking gaim, kopete, linux, ffs, or oss just because you like the way that a buggy msn messenger beta lets you send flash cartoons and move the other users window around. thats enough to make me want to use gaim over msn right there.
I must agree with alot of the posters on this thread. I don’t want a IM that gives me stupid bells and whistles. For me, IM’ing is the same as SMS. It should be plain text.
Then again, I also believe a cellphone should be just that. A phone. Nothing more. I don’t need a camera, GPS, thermometer, etc, etc. I want to phone people and SMS them.
Hell, I even like links(text based browser).
I can honestly say that kopete’s UI is the best I’ve seen in an IM program. It’s like trillian (the best windows IM client by far), only integrated with KDE. It really is wonderful.
File transfer, however, is definately a problem. It works for one out of the 5 networks I use – sometimes. We really need a blitz on file transfer support, which is a pretty basic feature, rather than adding more exotic plugins or whatever. (Yes I know that some people will only work on one thing, but the Kopete core developers must know the whole application) I’m willing to try and work on it, but the way I have to fit my code into the application is confusing and (of course) underdocumented. Anyone know more about kopete and willing to help try code it?
Take a look at spyshield for MSN encryption, it works fine and is real openpgp – it’s had far more analysis than gaim-encryption has, and will interoperate with Kopete with no trouble, which is nice. And I think not being able to see whether someone has blocked you is a feature
i hate msn messenger with a passion. it isnt fast. it spawns windows like nothing. it has ads. what does it have that others dont? um, wink? give me a break. trillian 3 is one of the best chat clients out there. given a choice between a wiki of everything said in a conversation (allowing me to look far smarter then i actually am 😉 ) and a fullscreen flash animation, i would take the wikis any day.
also, this is by microsoft, they of all people should be making apps that fit in with the system. but it seems like they really dont like windows standards (which is kind of odd). why is it that ms apps look nothing like anything else, including other ms apps? and isnt it supposed to be start->program files->appname->shortcuts? they seem to be leading the crusade to trash that and make program files a real big version of the quicklaunch bar.
last but not least, do us linux users really want people who wont use an os because it doesnt have msn messenger? i mean, honestly, anyone whose primary use for a computer is to instant message people really needs to get a life, and anyone who really loves msn messenger so much shouldnt be talking on tech forums at least until they get out of highschool.
um, how does ms make innovative software? usually they leave innovating up to the other guys. what ms does is mediocre to good (and with office, great) implementations of stuff other people have already done. great example is if you want all the features of longhorn, but dont want to wait till 2k8, pick up a mac. apple is a big idea company. google is a big idea company. microsoft leaves that kinda stuff to them, and then uses their weight of market dominance to come in and provide an integrated alternative to whatever we are talking about, usually killing the existing product.
ms is a great company for many things, but innovation is most definately not one of them.
also, i can’t help noticing how most people complain about not having completely unnecessary features like voice chat and video, but don’t care about essential features like encrypted IMs…
Because for 95% of the population who use instant messenger, voice chat and video are TENFOLD more important than encryption. Reality check, please.
In my environment only women are using msn messenger.. all the other are using icq.. and guess why.. i never had a problem connecting to icq in the past 6 or even more years.. msn sometimes has downtimes and lacks… i have never used a msn messenger before. I ever used an alternative client.. for now i use jabber with an msn transport.. most of my friends accept that i cannot see their avatars and that stuff.. even that i cannot use the crappy file transport is accepted.. so there’s no reason to blame the alternative clients.. u just have to arrange yourself and explain the situation to ur friends..
and I’m not referring to MSN chat, but the responses to the article.
While the source code of their chat program is indeed closed, the protocol is not…
How many of you remember the AIM/Y!/ICQ going nutzo and blocking out third party chat programs from access? AOL got so active in trying to shut out third party clients that in protest people even coded site detection into their sites to block AOL users from access, or at the least put up a “Warning” page about the evils of AOL…
About a year and a half ago MSN upgraded their chat protocol – Before they did so they went out of their way to share details with the makers of programs like Trillian and GAIM to make sure nobody using MSN would be left behind so long as they updated to the latest software. Have AIM, Y! or ICQ ever gone to such lengths? No, they have barely begrudgingly given up their activities to lock out third party clients altogether!
Just recently Trillian released version 3, which does most of the bells and whistles of MSN 7 that matter (audio, video chat)… HOW? Simple, Microsoft shared the protocol info with the coders of trillian just as they did a year and a half ago when they retired the ‘legacy’ protocol.
MSN’s chat department has been better than any other protocol in supporting third party clients, anybody who says otherwise obviously hasn’t been paying attention the past five years.
Since when did M$ contact Gaim team to make sure they wouldn’t be left behind? In fact, their move of upgrading their protocol to MSNP 8 and plus was supposed to block 3rd party clients.
They _allowed_ Trillian to use their protocol because they probably pay full royalties to them.
“Microsoft disclosed version 2 (MSNP2) to developers in 1999 in an Internet Draft, but never released versions 8, 9, 10 or 11 to public” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MSN_Messenger#Protocol
where were YOU during those past five years?
now for your last point: Jabber is an open standard. so this means developers can implement the protocol as needed/wanted and it is currently supported on multiple platforms. they offer the good IM features of MSN plus encryption, plus a very special feature that permits using the server to connect to another IM protocol.