How Windows Live Messenger Works

Microsoft Live Messenger is one of the most popular messenging programs.
Microsoft Live Messenger is one of the most popular messenging programs.
Microsoft product screen shot reprinted with permission from Microsoft Corporation.

When an e-mail response isn't fast enough -- or you just want to hang out online with friends, instant messaging (IM) may be your best option. And Windows Live Messenger is the messaging service of choice for many who chat worldwide.

Windows Live Messenger is just one component of the integrated Windows Live communications suite launched by Microsoft Corp. in 2006. The new suite brought together, rebranded and updated existing products such as MSN Hotmail and MSN Messenger, which is now Windows Live Messenger [source: How Windows Live E-mail Works].

In February 2006, MSN Messenger was the most widely used IM service in the world with 61 percent of users worldwide. That included 57.4 million users, or 70 percent of the European market. In North America, the most competitive IM market, MSN Messenger shared approximately one-third of the market, or about 23 million users, with AOL/AIM and Yahoo Messenger. But by November 2007, Windows Live Messenger had become the world's largest IM service with more than 294 million active users worldwide [source: comScore].

Beyond using free Windows Messenger to meet your basic IMing needs, you can use the service to:

  • Connect with friends and family by voice and video
  • Send text to smartphones or other mobile devices
  • Control how and when your contacts see you online

[source: Microsoft Get Live]

You may be wondering, how do I get started? How do I use these services? And, what's the i'm initiative? Let's start by looking at how easy downloading Windows Live Messenger is.