For several years my daughter Zoe has been a avid user of MSN Messenger. She uses to keep in touch with her friends after school and at weekends. A few months ago I upgraded from MSN Messenger to Windows Live Messenger (WLM for short). A week or so ago, WLM stopped working in Zoe's account (It would still work in administrator accounts). The signing-in window would come up but when she typed in her user name the characters would be redrawn very slowly, with gaps of 5 or 10 seconds between them. Password entry was quicker but then this error message would pop up:
Signing in to Windows Live Messenger failed because the service is temporarily unavailable. Error code 800401f3.
(As an aside: this message was actually misleading: for Zoe the service was permanently unavailable. People who write error messages should not make guesses.)
On the web I came across various suggestions for fixing the 800401f3 error: uninstalling and reinstalling WLM, re-registering some DLLs, etc, but none of them worked. I eventually lost patience and just uninstalled it.
Then, today I remembered that Zoe had been chatting quite happily to her friends on Ubuntu using GAIM, so I thought I would see if I could install GAIM on Windows. The first thing I found was that GAIM has been recently renamed Pidgin and has a nice friendly purple pigeon as a logo. The installation process seemed clean and friendly too as I was doing it. And then Zoe tried it out and she independently said she found it to be simple, friendly to use, and quick.
Now I think about it, I am surprised it has taken me so long to switching from MSN Messenger/WLM to GAIM/Pidgin. After all, it is many years since I switched from Internet Explorer to Netscape/Mozilla/Firefox. I think this must be down to the very low opinion I have of instant messaging in general: mindless drivel dressed up with garish emoticons and Liberace fonts .