It was with a tang of bittersweet nostalgia that I read the announcement last week that Microsoft will retire its Windows Live Messenger (MSN Messenger) product. http://techcrunch.com/2012/11/06/end-of-an-era-windows-live-messenger-to-be-retired-users-transitioned-to-skype/ Even though it’s been absolutely eons since I last logged into my account, having long ago become a convert to Skype because of the VoIP services. Even long before Microsoft bought Skype.
Having worked with geographically dispersed teams and living abroad, I was an early convert to chat. In the day I had accounts for all the services including MSN, Yahoo and AOL. I had a similar login id that reflected my situation CanuckInDublin.
I used MSN Messenger to communicate with my mom back home. I remember a funny story about when we first got connected Several times afterwards, whenever I would move to a meeting room to launch a conference call, just as I was setting up and dialing in, my mom would pop up in an MSN chat window. I would quickly type… sorry, I’m in a meeting, talk to you later. Those were also the days before wireless LANs were common. My move with my laptop to the meeting room and reconnection to the wireline LAN, meant that I did a fresh log-in to MSN and my mom would get an alert back in Canada that I had just logged on. Hence the consistent strange timing. Once we discovered that Mom just turned the alerts off or ignored them. Now that I’m back in Canada, we simply pick up the phone. Though I miss her online personality and her use of ROTFL and LOL.
Being in the tech industry, and working with teams all over the world, my teams were always early adapter to tools that helped bring us all together. Long before social and mobile had the strong meanings that they have today. The need to connect, communicate and collaborate has always been there, now we just have better tools to do it. We even used chat in conference calls when we were all in the same room. It was a way to give the speaker added information without interrupting and distracting from their credibility, or ways to discuss things heard and formulate the shared response. It’s also my favorite method to get a quick status update from an onsite team member, to find out how things are going or if they need anything from me. Rather than interrupt with a ringing phone. Allowing them an opportunity to chat freely or to just as quickly tell me they are busy, talk to you later.
Now there are plenty of tools to help us with our global collaboration and need to share information across distances. Go-to-Meeting, Sharepoint, YouSendIt, Skype. More and more sophisticated tools should arise as business moves into the Cloud. With added accessibility from many different devices. Still, as I log into my computer these days, my automatic log-in to Skype still occurs. With all these tools with wider more robust features, it’s amazing how much I still use chat.