Many Chinese users of Windows Live Messenger, more commonly referred to as MSN in short in China, have received an email which says the service will close down on October 31st (two months away) in mainland China. To encourage Chinese users to migrate to Skype, the online calling service Microsoft acquired in 2011, each of them will get 2 dollar worth of a coupon for Skype calls. The mainland China was the exception when Microsoft decided to shut down the Messenger in March 2013, for the service was operated locally.

I won’t receive the email as the hotmail account I used for the Messenger login has been long abandoned. But many years ago, the Windows Live Messenger was way more popular among my friends than Tencent’s QQ or other online instant messaging services by Chinese Internet companies such as Netease and Sina.

While back then QQ was popular too, there were several reasons that the Messenger was more welcomed among white collars and college students; for instance, the chances that your QQ accounts would be “stolen” for illicit trade was high, QQ allows random strangers to chat with you (though it’s why QQ was popular with some other demographic groups), some features on QQ such as pop-up windows of news or ads were annoying, and the emoticons and animated letters & symbols on the Messenger were better designed than those on QQ.

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Tracey Xiang

Tracey Xiang is Beijing, China-based tech writer. Reach her at traceyxiang@gmail.com