Growing Up

I’ve done so much this last week, but I’ll get around to that later.

This is a special message for all of you who are using Windows Messenger (a.k.a. Microsoft Messenger (a.k.a. MSN Messenger)). It’s just a summary of all the reasons you shouldn’t be, and why you should be using ICQ instead. If you’re an MSN user, please take a moment to read through this post and make up your own mind.

Still got arguments? Scroll down to the bottom…


  1. Number one – top of the list, I feel – Microsoft eventually plan to charge you for using MSN Messenger. This probably isn’t the end of the world, because they won’t charge for all of it, yet – they’ll probably start by charging for video chats or some other superfluous feature. But they’re also trying to become an even more dominant instant messaging client… now ask yourself: why would Microsoft want a monopoly in something that isn’t making them any money?
  2. Secondly, security: did you know that for several months earlier this year, it was possible for any bright 13-year old to get your Passport password, the technology that supposedly prevents unauthorised users from logging on as you to not only Messenger, but also eBay, Microsoft Gaming Zone, your Hotmail account, if you’re stupid enough to have one, etc. Even having a Passport account put you at risk! This security hole has now been fixed, but do you trust Microsoft, with their history of security flaws, not to make another similar blunder?
  3. Thirdly, let’s start to look at some features – Messenger does not support, and probably never will support, offline messages. How many times have you Messenger users logged on to talk to a friend who wasn’t there and had to send an e-mail instead? How about when somebody logs off just as you were about to say something important to them? Both of these have been supported for years by ICQ.
  4. User naming on the contact list in Messenger is a joke – the names of your friends are chosen by your friends, not by you. This doesn’t sound like a big deal until you know two people called, say, ‘Richard’, and you have to hover over each of them in the contact list to identify which is which. There is no facility for you to rename them to something more meaningful. It also allows endless pranks – for example, change your name to ‘Richard (Blocked)’, and all your friends will think that they’ve blocked you from sending messages to them. In most sensible IM clients, including of course ICQ, the name that initially appears on your contact list when you add a new friend is the one that they specified, but the freedom remains with you to change it to whatever name you like – their real name, a nickname, or whatever. Oh, and did I forget to mention that you can ‘send contacts’ to one another with the click of a button?
  5. Messenger will only talk to Messenger. Other clients often talk to one or more other clients, too. The latest version of ICQ, for example, can also talk to users of AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), which also sucks, but hey, at least it helps you keep in touch with your unenlightened friends.
  6. Out of an abject fear of people being allowed to talk to people they don’t know, Messenger users can only ever talk to people who’s Passport-linked e-mail addresses they know. On the other hand, ICQ users are able to search for their friends in an online whitepages, or even for new friends – people with similar interests. And, of course, there is no security risk because your details are only published to the whitepages if you want them to be, and you can disclose as much or as little about yourself as you like.
  7. Platform independence! Messenger runs on Windows and MacOS (although many Mac-users are smart enough to use other systems, anyway). ICQ runs on Windows (all the way back to 3.11 and also on palmtops), MacOS, and PalmOS; and clients exist for Linux, BeOS, etc… and hell, if you’re on some other platform (or in a library or internet cafe or somewhere else you’re not allowed to install software) you can still use ICQ so long as Java is installed by going to ICQ2Go and using it right there from the web! This ensures that you and your enlightened friends can chat even when you’re on the road.
  8. And that’s not even beginning to mention such ICQ features as a spellchecker, contact list groupings, a smaller memory footprint and a faster program, file sharing (not just sending), the ability to build complex privacy rules (e.g. “people on my contact list are allowed to know my telephone number, except for Anne and Bob, and only people I specify can send me contacts”), features to store extra information about people (e.g. their birthday, if they don’t supply it themselves), birthday reminders…

All my friends are on Messenger?
Be the first to switch. They’ll follow you when they see the benefits. In any case, you can happily run ICQ and Messenger alongside one another, or install a third-party program like Trillian to use both at the same time (that said, Microsoft are trying to stop third-party programs from using Messenger, because, as I said above, they’re trying to make a monopoly of the instant messaging market).

ICQ is more complicated that Messenger.
That’s because it has more features. A car is more complex than a bicycle. However, if you want a little help easing into ICQ, try ICQ Lite, a simplified, prettified version. And when you’re ready for the deep water, you can switch to ICQ Pro effortlessly.

More people use Messenger than ICQ.
More people use Windows than any other operating system. Hell, 10,000 lemmings a year can’t be wrong.

I have a good reason to keep on using Messenger that you haven’t talked about.
Then drop me an e-mail already (or an ICQ instant message – to 113207058), or leave a comment here, and I’ll get to it as soon as I can. If I can’t make you see the light now, then the best I can do is hope that you do when Microsoft send you a bill for the service you’re using.

Thanks for listening;


    Reply here

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Reply by email

    I'd love to hear what you think. Send an email to; be sure to let me know if you're happy for your comment to appear on the Web!