Author's note: Since this article was last updated, MSN has made advances, and I have stopped using it (moving to Miranda). Thus, this will no longer be updates. Thank you for all the comments you have sent over the years.

 

Due to the impact of M$'s bundling of MSN IM (aka M$N IM) with Windows XP, its shoving it into the faces of Hotmail users and the decreasing discernment of the younger generation, MSN now has a deadly grip upon the psyches of the younger generation.

With time, all shall be assimilated and obliterated before the steamroller that is M$, even with the inferior product that is MSN Messenger.

 

In a vainglorious but ultimately doomed attempt to raise awareness, a listing of M$N's many faults (mostly of the client, but some of the protocol) has now been compiled. It has been noted that using MSN Plus solved many of these problems, but the point is that the basic client sucks.

Technical matters

- New versions (6.0 onwards) have become more and more bloated, approaching or sometimes even surpassing ICQ in memory usage, while offering fewer (useful) features
- Its predecessor, Windows Messenger, came pre-installed with WinXP and pre-SP1 was removable only with adroit registry hacking or other methods beyond the skills of most users
- It forces you to sign up for a Passport account. Who knows how many people's information is gathered within that (easily hackable) repository, in the control of M$. Also, people were coerced/cajoled into using Hotmail (in the days when you needed a Hotmail account for a Passport, and even now they encourage you to sign up for a Hotmail account)
- It refuses to shut down when IE/OE/Outlook is running. The ugly icon there is really hard on the eye and will not go away (partially rectified in recent versions - now it refuses to shut down only when you're checking your Hotmail account: "Other applications are running which require MSN Messenger to be active"
- bollocks!)
- People sometimes appear offline when they are actually online. This is especially bad because MSN has no provision for offline messaging. (Other IM protocols used to have this problem, but no longer)
- Messages get lost in transit sometimes, even between official clients (and message dropping isn't even always reported), an indication of a lousy protocol
- For absolutely no reason, the server keeps a record of all the people you have ever added to your contact list, even after you have deleted them
- Messages are transferred in plain text, so anyone with a simple network sniffer in your network can read all your conversations.
- Message sessions need to be opened before messages can be sent, so messages timing out is a more common occurence than on some other instant messaging protocols
- With growth, the network can't keep up with the load and keeps booting users off
- With each new version its footprint grows steadily larger with useless but glitzy new features, while genuinely useful enhancements are not coded in

Chatting

- Each message is limited to 400 (1450 when sent from an alternate client) characters, during which it is hard often to communicate the totality of what one intends. Thus, people are further encouraged to "rite lyk dis"
- Conversation with different users appear in different windows - good luck to you if you're chatting with 10 friends
- Since messages are marked as read once received, if MSN or the computer crashes before you read the message you'll never know what you missed
- You cannot send offline messages !@#$%^&*()
- If a user is invisible, all conversation windows will be closed and you will be unable to send and receive, thus removing most of the usefulness of offline mode
- Messages are distorted by default. For example (l) is automatically converted to a heart sign, even if that wasn't what you meant
- Pressing the "enter" key sends a message, so messages end up being chopped up and people are encouraged to scatter their messages across several lines. This discourages compact messages, and by extension, compact thoughts (Oddly enough, this is seen by many as an advantage of M$N, since they are lacy to press the enter key)
- There is no system for marking unread messages, so if your computer crashes or you accidentally close the conversation window, or the program, you will miss the unread messages
- When talking to more than one person at a time, you will not be able to see everyone's pictures, and worse, their email addresses. Thus it is hard to add to your list new acquaintances made in multiple user chats
- It is hard at best, and impossible at worst to send multiple messages, both due to the problems of opening 20 windows and messages timing out when too many are sent within a short space of time

Profiles and notes

- You can't scribble notes about people, so it's easy to forget who is who
- It is incredibly difficult to create a profile, and you can't put much information in it anyway, so most people don't bother (it's off putting too, since it'd involve a public Passport profile usable out of the context of MSN Messenger itself)
- You can't view or edit profiles natively (in the program itself), so most people don't bother with them. Thus, you can get confused about who someone is despite, or perhaps because of, mysterious and uninformative (though often long and adorned) nicknames. Useful information like location, timezone, birthday and homepage URL are this not transmitted.
- You can't rename your contacts which is very important considering how everyone changes their nick a million times a session.

File Transfer

- Sending and receiving, and monitoring the transfer of, more than one file at a time is wretchedly awkward and difficult
- File transfers can't be resumed either, which is disastrous when the transfer of a large file is interrupted
- There is no bandwith throttling - neither for file transfer in general nor for specific files
- It is very easy to cancel a file transfer accidentally and there is no confirmation prompt
- Received files are not sorted by user, making things very confusing, especially with files with similar filenames
- It blocks so-called dangerous file types, but even if you want to accept them you cannot: they tell you you can unblock them, but you have to rightclick them and go to properties and select unblock, which is not possible, since the files are removed from view after blocking; there is no whitelist for file transfers
- The speed of the file transfer and the time left to completion are unknown to the user
- Sometimes after the file transfer is completed, the file cannot be found

Miscellaneous

- There used to be a pathetic limit of 150 (300 from late March 2005) contacts per account (This was almost certainly the most evil thing about MSN Instant Messenger!!! - just because Microsoft had no friends did not mean that other people didn't)
- Even people who don't use MSN Messenger can be added to your list, potentially resulting in puzzlement
- Your Instant Messaging is tied to your MSN Passport, so if/when you change your email address, all your contacts have to be re-added and you (they) lose your (their) message history. Either that or you get stuck with a dud email address, so people emailing you get frustrated and you're doomed if you forget your MSN Passport password
- It used to have no history function. Thus, records of your conversations were lost to posterity. Even now, though, the history function leaves much to be desired - you can't save the history as a text file, for example, not all events are logged and worst of all, there is a maximum length for the history file (read: Not all of your history will be stored, at least not as a contiguous whole)! Of course some people do not desire message logs, but they can always turn message histories off.
- By some mysterious process, it makes people change nicknames more often than they change their clothes
- If your history files get corrupted (which happens if the computer or program crashes), good luck to you since there's no database repair utility. Furthermore, it is likely that with a corrupted history, MSN will keep crashing
- It is hard to shut down - since when did pressing the "close" button minimise something to the system tray? Begone, vile program!
- It's very dumbed down, to cater to the vast majority. Power users thus get irked at the lack of power and customisability
- There used not to be custom status messages, so no one knew where you really were when MSN said you were "away"
- You cannot send contacts so helping someone establish his list is very tiring and time consuming
- Big user avatars (pictures) get cropped
- Winks, nudges, smileys and flash smileys, enabled by default, can make life a pain
- You can't search for contacts: important when you have many contacts and people change their nicknames with each blink
- With every new release, more and more glitzy rubbish that mindless people like is added, while most of the critical flaws of the protocol and client are left unfixed

 

In the interests of fairness, here are a few things I like about MSN:

- It is very rare for you to be unable to send files, even when you are behind a firewall. Contrast this to ICQ and the constant inabilities to connect to the other user. Hell, in general MSN works well with firewalls
- Avatars are displayed automatically, though they're limited in size and sometimes improperly cropped
- It feels faster than ICQ
- Messages seem to send faster (OTOH this might be the cause of timeouts, messages dropping and such)
- There's no such thing as a 'visible list', so people can't spend all their time online hiding from most of their contact list, negating the benefits and point of instant messaging and gaining a false sense of security and control over their otherwise wretched and pathetic lives (M$N has 'block user', but the point is, if you don't want people to see you, just put them on ignore. It's really silly to hide in invisible mode all the time)
- Nicknames can be quite long

 

The list is endless, so if I have missed anything out, please send your suggestion along.

Author's note: Since this article was last updated, MSN has made advances, and I have stopped using it (moving to Miranda). Thus, this will no longer be updates. Thank you for all the comments you have sent over the years.