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Windows Dead Messenger

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.

pidgin.pngThen, 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 .

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